Coronavirus: The impact on small businesses and what YOU can do to prepare!
As small business owners, we are all likely to be affected by the coronavirus in one way or another. So, I felt I should weigh in on how we may consider a response as business owners.
While there is obviously fear of the unknown at the moment, we need to all be as prepared as we possibly can, so we can manage our businesses effectively through this period and come out the other side relatively unscathed, if not stronger.
There is a lot of panic out there at the moment, with people uncertain with what the outcome might be in the future. And although the future remains uncertain, there are some definite actions you should take to be prepared.
The World Health Organisation has officially declared a pandemic. This inevitably means that everyone will be feeling the effects one way or another, whether it be through ill-health, or some secondary effect such as sales, supply-chain issues or staffing levels.
So as a small business owner, you need to be aware of everything that is within your control and prepare as well as you possibly can.
Those who will be hit hardest are those who are already under financial pressure and have low levels of liquidity.
Just like when a cyclone is coming, we need to batten down the hatches and prepare our property as best we can. In a time like this, our focus should remain on what we can control instead of what we can’t!
While there are obviously many things outside your control, there will always be an opportunity or two in amongst the threats. The strongest businesses are those who focus on what will drive them business rather than let circumstance defeat them!
Remember that companies like Gillette, IBM, Microsoft, FedEx were all formed during the depths of economic hardship. Although they are big industry leaders today, they started small during the toughest economic times.
For example: Are you in the hospitality industry? Do you currently have either a take-away or delivery service? Can you create one?
Whilst foot traffic is decreasing at dine-in establishments, delivery and take-away percentages have increased since the virus began.
My point being – Can you tweak something in your business that will drive sales right now?
How will this impact small businesses?
As people become more cautious about attending events, eating in restaurants and going anywhere large groups gather - such as schools, gyms, shopping centres and movie theatres – small businesses will continue to be affected through reduced sales and revenue.
Obviously, this can put enormous strain on businesses.
That is before we begin to mention how our staff might be affected. With employees being asked to stay home if they feel ill, or needing to stay home with their children, the knock-on effects are sure to be felt by everybody.
Our supply chains are also affected, which obviously has flow-on effects to all areas of our businesses.
With international shipping facing delays at ports, it is vital that you account for extra stock, or new suppliers if needed.
Whilst each of these factors can potentially have a massive impact on your cashflow, it is not the time to panic. It IS the time to take control of everything you can affect, and prepare your business as well as possible.
This is the time to surround yourself with people who will provide perspective and relevance to the issues at hand.
What you can do to navigate through this next period…
So, what is within your control, and what can you do to prepare?
- Continue to meet and exceed your quote register target – there is still business to be created in your ideal target market
- Continue to be in control of your team alignment on delivering all orders/work on time and on budget and a little more than you promised
- Continue to work each day like its day one
- Continue to surround yourself with people who understand this will come and go and you and your business will be stronger on the other side
- If you’re in a people-facing business think about how technology can work to your advantage
- Ensure everyone is truthful and transparent about their state of health
- Request that everyone on the team is thoughtful about their chosen public activities
- Have a contingency plan or two as it relates to:
- Increased hygiene protocols in the office
- ‘Work from home’ protocols for staff
- Minimise travel for staff and team where possible – Be aware there may be a 14-day Quarantine on return from overseas that may be extended in the future.
The final word
The elevated anxiety will continue until such time there is a consistent message that the virus is under control.
The experts are suggesting a 3-5-month time period as the most likely scenario.
Between now and then, be thoughtful with your focus, discipline and the things you can control.
This is a cyclone for the financial markets and many businesses sales and revenue are likely to stall for a while but, the cyclone will come and go.
The key is to survive it.
Those that don’t will be the ones with too much debt, too little cash and their eye off their plan and the necessary work.
The above is my perception (and the perception of most people that have experienced ups and downs in business)
I am not scared… but I am aware of the focus, grit and resilience that may be required.
Be thoughtful in your decision making and flexible with the way you do business.
This is not a business as usual event.
CEO, Business Benchmark Group
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Stefan Kazakis on 5 May 2018
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