Tips to Help Businesses Navigate Through the Response to COVID-19
8 Apr 2020
Businesses everywhere are struggling financially as the response to COVID-19 has led to many business closures, a reduction in consumer spending, less foot traffic and even contract and payment delays. Eventually life and business will get back to normal, but what should you do in the meantime to stay afloat? Many businesses do not have resources readily available to combat these hardships. These tips could help during these challenging times.
#1 Seek financial assistance
Start seeking financial assistance in the form of loans and grants immediately. You may currently be unsure how much loss you will face and how much capital you will need, but applying for it proactively regardless is always wise. If an emergency financial situation already exists, do not hesitate to apply immediately.
The SBA Disaster Relief loan is an excellent financial assistance resource we recommend. This lending program is designed for businesses who may not qualify for a traditional bank loan, so businesses must apply with a local lender and be denied first. After this process, you can apply for the Disaster Relief loan. If approved, rates are low and the loan can be repaid over thirty years. The money can be used to pay bills, payroll, other loan payments and working capital needs. All important financial responsibilities that must be addressed. At the local and state level, grants may also be available. Contact us for the latest information as things are constantly changing during this time. You can also visit our website to see more resources on local financial assistance.
#2 Support employees
It is more important than ever before to continue to support employees. Some employees may be eligible for unemployment assistance. This assistance is often offered to employees who are temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus. Help employees get the financial support they need by directing them to these resources. The more you help them now, the more ready they will be to come back to work once the virus is contained.
Employers who do not need to lay off workers, but must allow them to work from home, should be prepared to support them with virtual meeting and project management tools. Implementing a work policy for operating remotely may help with this task. Employees will be more productive if they know when they are expected to be available and the best ways to communicate with the team.
The coronavirus is bound to affect everyone on some level. Businesses should negotiate with suppliers, investors, partners and even landlords on financial matters and timelines. Some parties may be willing to establish a different payment schedule or delay payments. In the case of a landlord, ask if they can add the rent to the end of the lease or work out a separate repayment plan for when you can’t pay due to business disruptions caused by the virus. Working together on a solution that benefits everyone is best. Don't wait until you are in a bad spot financially.
#4 Be creative
Be creative and continue to serve customers if possible. Can you provide services virtually using email, video calls or website orders? Can deliveries be made without contact or can curbside pick up be established? Identify everything that you currently do for customers and determine what can be moved to a virtual or non-contact delivery system in order to keep as much of your business running as possible. If you are still serving customers from your business location, it is important to incorporate social distancing by setting appointments, only allowing a certain number of customers in the store at a time, limiting store entrance to essential needs only or using more areas of the building to provide enough space between customers. Find ways to keep employees earning by allowing them to sell on social media or permitting them to contact customers via phone or email.
#5 Work with your insurance company
Insurance companies are willing to answer questions and lend a hand. Some insurance policies include provisions for emergency situations such as this. Business interruption coverage can cover the loss of income that may occur when a business suffers after a disaster or pandemic. Give your agent a call to discuss your benefits and use what’s available.
#6 Stay in communication
Customers, employees, banks and vendors depend on you to stay afloat! Keep communication open and inform everyone of how your business is being impacted. Ask for help when needed. Stay as active as possible in all social media outlets to remind consumers you are there. This is not a time to limit virtual contact. Be transparent with customers and partners about what your business is going through. Our community is coming together and it is important to communicate and support each other.
Communicating with local officials and checking local resources daily to learn how things are developing and how you can implement safeguards may be beneficial as well. It is possible to stay above the red during the hardships of COVID-19 with the right strategy.
Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance Is Here to Help
We are ready and available to provide support virtually. We have the latest information on ways to assist businesses in our community. Reach out and let us know what your business is experiencing so that we can connect you with the right resources. View our website for links to helpful resources for small businesses.
We will make it through this - together!