With all the information we read and passed on to us online especially on social media regarding the new Coronavirus (aka COVID-19), it is easy to get spooked. We hear about cities shutting down, flights cancelled, communities on lock down, etc. And as business owners, this definitely is not good news especially to those who are involved in travel, tourism, hospitality, events, and healthcare industries.
This is affecting thousands of people worldwide. Governments are doing everything they can to help their public get through the crisis. We all need to do everything we can to reduce exposure to the disease.
While the pandemic is far from over, it will eventually end. We have to keep our hopes up, head high, and find new ways to adapt to our temporary living conditions. Sooner or later, experts will find a way to fight and defeat COVID-19. Our lives will go back to normal and we’re equipped with a valuable lesson we’ve been taught a long time ago: wash your hands. Be hygienic, be mindful of others when you are sick, and live a healthier lifestyle.
But until then, we just need to use every resource we have to help each other. The beautiful thing though is that now, we have the internet. It enables us to connect with anyone around the world by merely swiping on our phone.
The best way for business owners to make use of this down time is to make sure your customers don’t feel forgotten. Much like here at Public, we take care of our clients like how we care for our team and their families. We have comprehensive plans in place to ensure we remain up and running to help you do business.
We’ve compiled a list of options and resources to help you continue doing business.
Plan A, B, C…
Work from home setup is the first thing that comes to mind during a crisis like this. However, it’s not possible for all roles and businesses. If you don’t have a contingency plan in place, carefully assess which aspects of your operation are crucial to keep the business running.
Conduct your business online as much as possible. Lay out a plan on how you can cater to these key areas and how you can delegate/share tasks to your employees as they work remotely.
If you’re in the manufacturing industry, prepare a statement that would effectively communicate any possible delays to deliverables as you implement social distancing in your workplace or if your community is quarantined.
Put a Learning Plan in place if your operations are completely affected. Take the time to sharpen your team’s skills. Conduct online training sessions with your team or do research on how you can improve your products and services, as well as customer service.
It’s also best to create a back-to-work plan that would allow your workforce to smoothly go back to operations once this crisis is over. You don’t want your team to dive right in. You need a battle plan to ease up the stress in dealing with the amount of work left undone.
Communication is the key to any business. Be proactive in communicating with your clients on what is possible and what isn’t at this time. Let your clients know that you are finding ways to keep it going.
Empathize with irritated customers. Show them that you understand their frustrations and acknowledge their emotions and concerns. This helps deescalate the situation before having a reasonable conversation about what can and what cannot be delivered at the moment.
Set up a meeting through video conferencing. There are a lot of great video chat apps available for free you can use to connect with your clients instead of sending them a cold email.
Here are some chat apps that support video messaging:
Communication is necessary for your team as well. Schedule meetings, create group chats, and collaboration tools to keep everyone in sync.
Here are some file sharing apps you can use with your team:
File Sharing Tools
Consider Financing and Loans
Small businesses are the most vulnerable in these economic disruptions caused by the Coronavirus. Small businesses are vital economic engines in every community and state. Unfortunately, most of these businesses are forced to shut down temporarily in compliance with their community ordinance.
On the bright side, banks and other financing institutions are extending their help to SMEs to get back on their feet. In fact, the US Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced plans to provide disaster assistance loans for affected businesses up to $2 million. These loans can be helpful for small business owners to overcome temporary loss of revenue due to the virus outbreak.
Chuck Blakeman of Crankset Group also advised SMEs to consider drawing down their entire credit line and pay interest on it for a month or so to see how the crisis pans out. “If the banks choose to repeat the process, they will take away any unused portion of your credit line, and if the pattern holds, they will do it with no notice to you. I will be glad to pay a month or two in interest to ensure the cash flow of our business.”
Here are additional references from CEOs and business experts to help you with crisis management:
Stay Healthy, Calm, and Patient
The outbreak is not the only health risk we’re dealing with. This crisis has brought panic, fear, and stress and anxiety to the public. We all react differently to stressful situations. By effectively managing stress, it will make you, your family and people you care about, and your community stronger.
Here are some tips to help you deal with stress during a lockdown:
Exercise. If you can’t go to the gym, ask your coach for workout routines you can do at home. You can find a lot of fitness experts sharing quick home workouts that you can do without equipment on YouTube and Instagram. Channel that negative energy into movement.
Tip: try this Online Yoga Class from Michigan State University
Netflix with the Fam. Now’s a good time to catch up on your favorite series or movies you’ve missed on the big screen. Take this time to bond with the family and share some laughs or tears. In case you haven’t heard, Frozen 2 is streaming early.
Take a Virtual Tour. Travel plans cancelled? Check out virtual tours! These will help familiarize yourself with the destinations you’re planning to visit. If you’re missing the beach, this video will definitely give you a dose of that much needed Vitamin Sea.
Take Your Kids on a Virtual Field Trip. Join your kids on a virtual field trip and learn together. Here are quick lists of virtual field trips you can enjoy with your children:
Cincinnati Zoo — Home Safari Facebook Live each weekday at 3pm EDT includes an activity you can do from home
Keep a Positive Attitude
As the cliche goes, there’s a rainbow always after the rain. This crisis will eventually die down and we’ll all get back on our feet. Let’s take the time to strengthen relationships with the family, employees, colleagues and clients. Learn to manage your priorities without neglecting your health. Practice good hygiene and eat clean.
We’ll continue to update this list of resources as we go through this battle against COVID-19.
In the meantime, check out what other companies are doing to help their employees and community during this challenging time. https://publicadagency.com/businesses-doing-good-in-the-face-of-adversity/