5 Critical Steps to Keep Your Small Business Afloat Through COVID-19
1. Stay Informed. As a small business owner, you have duty to your community, your customers, and your staff to remain calm, rational, and up to date on the facts. Check reliable sources frequently. Start your day with Mass.gov https://www.mass.gov/resource/information-on-the-outbreak-of-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19 and check back in periodically throughout the day.
2. Communicate the Right Way. Leadership Should Be a Source of Truth. People base their trust on two things: 1) Delivering on Promises, and 2) Doing the right thing. Disinformation and confusion are spreading through our society faster than the virus. Everywhere, people are reacting irrationally. Your employees, customers, and your community expect you to reassure them that they are being protected and that the business is prepared. And, they trust you more than they trust the government or the media. Your messages must be consistent and accurate. Do Not React to Sensationalist Posts on Social Media. If you do post, make sure to include a link to your authoritative source (Instagram is Not an authoritative source.) Don't perpetuate the myths and remember that this is your opportunity to build the reliability of your brand. Manage your Social Media and advertising strategies carefully. If you're small enough, call your customers, and tell them what you're doing to keep them safe (use a script – don't wing it). If you're larger, email your customers about the steps that you are taking to keep them and your employees safe.
3. Take care of your employees. First, be sure your workplace is as safe as possible. Second, make policies to address absence due to sickness or caring for relatives, the protocol for visitors to you site, the procedure for reporting illness, and travel restrictions. Third, prepare for leaves-of-absence and layoffs and start by reading the new DUA procedures https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-guidance-and-directives#businesses-&-employers Be honest with your staff and listen to them.
4. Manage Your Budget. Scenario planning is an essential tool for business, especially now when people are afraid, and COVID-19 could affect every part of your business for months. Test your preparedness now. Is your business equipped to cope? Take a hard look at your budget. Identify your critical sensitivities. If you must close your shop, office, or restaurant talk to your landlord. Talk to your banker – do you need to restructure your loans? Don't wait. Do it now.
5. Increase Demand. Pivot. How can you provide products and services for people who are spending more time at home? Can you offer workouts or yoga classes online? Can you mobilize your staff to deliver essentials to people's homes? Businesses in some sectors could see a significant rise in demand if more of the population is spending more time at home rather than at work — how can you make that happen for your business? Here's an example of some very creative thinking https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2020/03/13/coronavirus-mandarin-oriental-hotel/
Attorney Freya Shoffner and everyone at Shoffner & Associates have over twenty years helping small businesses survive and thrive in tough times and good times. Call us, email us, we're at your service.