If you’re like many small business owners you’re probably astounded by how the world has changed in a very short time. While we can all hope that the pandemic is a once-in-a-lifetime scenario, the truth is there is a lot in life and in business that is uncertain, and there is a great deal we can learn from the response to COVID-19 to help plan for the future.
Yes, your business might have changed drastically in recent months. There is good news in that, too. It means your business is adaptable and that you can find ways to survive.
Here are some lessons learned from resilient businesses and business owners during COVID-19.
- Resilient Businesses are Adaptable
There are ways to adapt many small businesses to ensure they can continue operating during a crisis. The question is whether you’re willing to make the adaptation or are fighting to keep your business exactly the same as it was before.
You might miss the old ways of running your business. Missing the old way of doing things, however, doesn’t mean you have to hold firm to them. Operating a store online, allowing your restaurant to focus on take-out, offering classes online, adapting your goods or services, and letting employees work remotely are all changes that can ensure your business stays open after COVID-19 is over, and even save you money in the long run.
- Resilient Business Owners Plan Ahead
While almost nobody saw a pandemic coming, some experts warned about the possibility of a recession and how to prepare for it. Unfortunately, many small business owners limit their planning to a crisis that lasts only a few weeks, which is where they get into financial trouble.
Disaster can strike at any time, and it doesn’t have to be a global pandemic. Having a healthy cash flow, a savings account with enough built up to cover costs for at least a few months, and a plan for addressing recession scenarios will help your business survive tough times, whatever brings them about.
You don’t want to be reactive to an emergency situation, because that’s when terrible decisions get made. Instead, plan ahead so you’re prepared and don’t have to make tough decisions based largely on emotion. Prepare for an emergency that lasts months, not just weeks.
- Resilient Business Owners Pay Attention to What Others are Doing
In situations like COVID-19, business owners can learn from and help each other. Take a look at what others in your industry are doing, and even look outside your industry for inspiration. Seeing someone move their services online might give you an idea for how you can provide yours remotely. Noticing how businesses similar to yours adapt can influence you to make beneficial changes to your business.
Reach out and talk to other business owners, and to your customers, to find out how you can help them. At times like these, you aren’t alone in trying to keep your business operational. Everyone is looking for solutions and there’s a good chance you can help each other.
- Work With Experts:
In crisis like a global pandemic, Governments usually provide subsidies and grant loans to small businesses. You need to have active relations with lawyers and accountants to assist you in applying for and obtaining loans, dealing with vendor and rent payments, customers not paying up their dues, etc. During such calamitous times, you need to maximize liquidity, and experts will provide you with professional advice on how to maximize cash in your business.
- Improves Supply Chain Communication:
The pandemic proved that during catastrophic times, the buyer-seller relationship in a supply chain is very much interdependent. There is no point in switching since majority of suppliers, too, are impacted by COVID-19. Hence, businesses should be able to trust each other and communicate about their financial struggles. Enterprises should plan and work thoroughly on risk management, and be able to provide assistance to struggling suppliers so that both parties can benefit at the end.
- Digitalize It All:
COVID-19 is an airborne disease and the only way to prevent the spread of the virus is social distancing. Businesses had to be operated remotely. Entrepreneurs had to act fast and spend thousands of dollars on devices and equipment for employees to work on from home. Technology like videoconferencing and cloud computing were heavily relied on to enable working remotely. Hence, businesses should devise and employ digital strategies for any future circumstantial disasters and/or opportunities to be efficient.
Global pandemics can devastate a small business and have lasting impacts on an industry. There are many lessons that small business owners can take away from COVID-19 to help them survive the next economic emergency. Being adaptable, planning ahead and paying attention to others can all help your business through any economic disaster.