How to Adapt Your Small Business During a Pandemic |

How to Adapt Your Small Business During a Pandemic

By Linda Mohamed

Updated February 2, 2021 Updated February 2, 2021

In March, the coronavirus outbreak caused a global stock market drop, something that has since been compared to the 2008 financial crisis.

On March 16 2020, the Dow Jones plummeted 3,000 points – the worst percentage fall since Black Monday in 1987.

Figures show that big companies are suffering, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the pandemic’s impact on other key players in Western economies: small business owners and their staff.

In the US, small businesses account for over 99 percent of all businesses, creating millions of new jobs every year and employing almost half of all US workers, from independent contractors to temporary and full-time employees.

Similar figures apply to the UK. At the start of 2019 there were 5.82m SMEs in the country, accounting for 99.9 percent of the business population and employing 16.6m people.

However, with lockdown measures currently in place for nonessential businesses, entrepreneurs might find it difficult to maintain business continuity in the upcoming months.

If you’re worried about future activity, now is the time to think outside the box and find innovative ways to keep afloat.

Here’s a few tips that might help you preserve and reinvent your business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Apply for government aid

We’re living in extraordinary times and as a result, governments are putting forward extraordinary measures to save local and regional economies, from big players in the stock market to the self-employed and SMEs.

If you’re based in the US, you’re able to access the $2tn economic stimulus package announced last week.

If your businesses employ less than 500 people, you can qualify for two types of loans: a standard SBA Loan or the new, coronavirus-specific SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).

To apply for the former, you’ll need to file your taxes and prepare a personal financial statement as soon as possible. If you’ve had your business for over three years, it’s recommended that you put together three years of business and personal tax returns, as well as your monthly operating expenses from March through September 2019 and forecasts and budgets for 2020.

To apply for an EIDL, aside from the regular SBA procedures, you’ll have to provide a personal guarantee such as a lien on your business and your home. You also need to show you’ve been highly affected by the pandemic – for example, that you haven’t been able to pay wages or regular business expenses.

If you’re based in the UK, you may be eligible for the new governmental financial-relief package, currently set at £350bn.

You can access loans through a new landing facility established with the Bank of England, all available free of interest for the first six months, and a cash grant worth £10,000 to alleviate imminent financial emergencies.

If your business is in the retail, leisure or hospitality sectors, you’ll also be eligible to a year-long exemption from paying business rates.

Moreover, Chancellor Sunak has pledged to create an Employment Support Package to help employers of small businesses retain their staff.

Apply for corporate aid

Governments aren’t the only institutions taking action to support SMEs, with big corporations promising to help entrepreneurs and their staff stay afloat during the pandemic. 

Facebook recently announced the launch of a Small Business Grants Program that will provide US$100m in cash to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries. Even though applications aren’t open yet, you can sign up to their update scheme and be notified before the launch.  

Similarly, the James Beard Foundation is gathering funds to support SMEs in the food and beverage industry.

Yelp has pledged to help entrepreneurs by giving out US$25m worth of free advertising, products and services on the platform.

Move online

In such volatile times, moving online can give you the certainty you need to keep your business going.

If your business provides online-based services, having your employees work from home will help you maintain productivity rates and retain clients. Use chat and video conference apps such as Microsoft Teams, Slack and Zoom to bring your team together and encourage communication. This is key to successfully manage your employees and keep morale up.

If your business sells physical products, transitioning to online retail and delivery can help you tackle the loss of in-store foot traffic and retain your staff.

Make sure to invest in a strong online infrastructure where you can offer safe shipping and pickup solutions. This could take a while, and you might need to hire a software engineer, but in the long run it could help you remain in business.

Nourish social media partnerships

Now more than ever, social media can be a legitimate source of income. This doesn’t mean you need to become an influencer overnight, but investing in digital partnerships might give your business an edge.

Use platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram to look for companies whose products you can incorporate in your services. Firms that rely on e-commerce will appreciate your platform, especially if you can provide consumer analytics to help boost traffic.

Content creation can be a money-making machine and a great way to put your staff to work remotely, so you might also want to incorporate ads and affiliate content into your digital presence.

If you’re not familiar with content creation, it might be worth reaching out to media and marketing brands – you won’t regret it. 

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This article was originally published in March 2020 . It was last updated in February 2021

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