Though the Covid-19 health crisis is slowly starting to wind down, the economic ramifications of the pandemic are still in full force. The global lockdown, while necessary, has caused a great deal of damage to both the national and global economies and spurred a global recession. This has been a disaster for many small businesses, many of which don’t have the necessary capital and savings to survive difficult economic times like these.
The effects of the pandemic have created a shock to both the supply and demand sides of the economy, which is a rare but potentially devastating economic effect.
However, the doom-and-gloom economic forecast doesn’t tell the full story, and you don’t have to let it decide the fate of your business. There are plenty of small businesses that have managed to weather the pandemic successfully and even thrive despite the climate. The pandemic and ensuing recession have exposed certain cracks in the old ways of doing things, and a savvy business person can use this as an opportunity to get a head start on the future. If you’re not quite sure where to start, here are a few tips you can apply to your small business and use as a foundation for success during and after the pandemic and recession.
Stay Stable, Yet Flexible
This shouldn’t really be surprising to any entrepreneur, but the primary attribute for any successful business in difficult times is going to be flexibility. The economic ramifications of Covid-19 have forced many industries to change up the way they do things, and so the ability to adapt and make quick changes is huge for a small business. In some ways, this is actually easier for a smaller business than a larger one. While a small business doesn’t have the same cushion that a big corporation does, their smaller organizational structures make them potentially much more agile. This is something to use to your advantage as you look to weather the Covid-19 storm.
While it’s important to be flexible and agile in your response to the economic climate, it’s equally important to maintain a certain amount of stability in your business. That means sticking close to the core values and elements that brought you success before the recession. Now is not the time to be entering unfamiliar markets or completely rewriting your business plan. Instead, try to identify where your central strengths and experiences lie and rebuild around them.
Open Yourself to New Partnerships
If the Covid-19 outbreak has proven anything, it’s how interconnected our global society has truly become. Unified cooperation has been our strongest weapon against the virus in a public health context, and that same cooperation has been brought over into the economic side of things as well. Consider making new partners, especially businesses that have stability and structures in areas your business is lacking. This is another situation where it can be helpful to look inward and identify the strengths of your enterprise.
What do you have that nobody else does? Also, what are your biggest holes? Once you’ve identified these factors, try to find partners who fill your weaknesses and require your strengths. This can mean sharing manufacturing capability, allowing other companies to make use of physical space that you have, or even just sharing digital marketplaces. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say, so sometimes it can be a good idea to leave the competition to the side and focus on cooperating to survive.
Place Emphasis on Employee Morale
Your employees are your greatest resource for success, so it’s more important than ever to make sure they’re happy and motivated. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented challenges not only in the business world but for everybody in their own lives as well, so keeping a close eye on the morale of your workers is a good idea. If you’re struggling with morale or motivation, consider bringing in corporate motivational speakers to address your workforce.
Outside speakers can be well worth the money if it means that your employees stay motivated and productive. You should also check in with your managers and make sure they’re not having problems managing a remote team, which comes with its own set of challenges.
Embrace Digitization and Remote Working
Increased digitization is something that successful companies have been identifying for years as a potential need, but it took a global pandemic to force businesses to actually implement digitization. This is yet another instance where the crisis can actually be an opportunity for a savvy entrepreneur. The increasing digitization of your company can keep overhead low and make you a more agile and maneuverable operation, which is essential for surviving a recession. Remote working is another facet of the Covid-19 age that can be a strength if you consider how best to use it. It can free you from the costly overhead of maintaining a large office building, allow you to easily operate in multiple areas across the country or even worldwide, and place emphasis on digital storefronts.
Apply for Emergency Loans as Needed
You can have the most brilliant pandemic survival plan in the world, and it won’t do you any good if you don’t have the capital to survive while you’re implementing it. This is where small businesses are at a significant disadvantage, as larger corporations can afford to just sit tight and weather the recession without worrying about going under. The Federal Reserve’s most recent estimates suggest that about 800,000 small businesses closed their doors during the first year of the pandemic, about 33% more than the average year.
It’s for this exact reason that the US government implemented the PPP, or Paycheck Protection Program. PPP loans are designed to make sure small businesses like yours can continue to pay their employees and stay open throughout the effects of the pandemic. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of programs like the PPP while implementing your survival plans, otherwise, you may find yourself out of money before you can even get going.
However you choose to move on from the pandemic, it’s absolutely vital to make sure you’re being smart and looking towards the future. The effects of Covid-19 have exposed the failings of many a business plan, so a willingness to adapt could be the difference between success and shuttering your enterprise for good.