The coronavirus pandemic had a negative impact on many businesses. Although some industries (including leisure and hospitality, travel, and construction) were hit the hardest, the vast majority of small businesses in the United States took a significant hit. But 2021 is here, and with the flip of the calendar, a new hope for the future. As vaccine rollouts continue across the country, we have hope that things will return to normal. Until that happens, it’s up to you to keep your business afloat so that you can continue to support yourself and your community. Here are some tips on how.
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Hire the right talent.
Right now, you have unprecedented access to amazing talent. Many businesses have yet to recall furloughed workers, so the pool of potential is vast. It’s time to take advantage. A great place to start is by hiring remote talent. Remote workers are more common than ever, and you can find an expert in just about every role that’s ready to help you take your business through the year and beyond.
Recruiting new talent, however, takes more than just reading resumes and contacting former employers. Finding the best people requires a bit of legwork. First, you’ll want to look for new hires that you can groom for the long-term success of your company. This means skipping over industry “rock stars” and potentially hiring someone right out of college that still has the entrepreneurial mindset and enthusiasm that helped you get your business to where it is today. You’ll also want to ensure that you hire a diverse range of individuals because they will be the ones that support you in areas where you may lack expertise.
Assess health and safety concerns.
After peaking in early January, coronavirus numbers continue to fall in the United States. This does not mean that we can get lax about health and safety now. Spend some time evaluating your business if you intend to continue operating in a brick-and-mortar setting. Implement social distancing guidelines, and make sure that you can follow along with local protocols. For example, if your town has a mask mandate, make these available to customers at the entrance where signage should also clearly outline your expectations for facial coverings.
For your employees, cancel non-essential travel. Additionally, you will also want to re-evaluate your sick leave policies, which have been mandated at the federal level since the passing of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. If you do require employees to be on-site, even if only periodically, make sure they have an open workspace that is at least six feet away from each other.
Handle administrative tasks in your downtime.
Administrative tasks are often the last to get taken care of, but they can be the most important. Things like making sure you have a trademark in place and reviewing your accounting procedures are crucial to your business a success. And if you have put off forming a business structure, there is never a better time than now to establish your LLC. This simple process starts with naming your business and requires that you appoint an agent, file the right paperwork, create an operating agreement, and establish an EIN. A formation service like Zen Business can help with the process, but read Zen Business reviews to see if they’re the best option.
Now is also the prime time to devote some effort into writing a standard operating procedure (SOP) manual for your business. SOPs are step-by-step guides that any employee can use to successfully complete a task. Lucidchart explains these can be used to ensure you remain compliant, boost productivity, and prevent unfortunate failures in your operations.
Adapt to your customers’ needs.
Your customers’ needs have no doubt changed, and if your offerings haven’t followed suit, you’re going to have a difficult climb back to the top. Many of the biggest companies — including Papa John’s, Walmart, and Burger King — have adapted beautifully, offering shorter delivery times and more touchless options. These and other businesses have even found a way to expand during the recession.
Think about ways that the pandemic has affected your customer base. If you live in an area of high unemployment, you might offer layaway instead of requiring purchases to be handled in a single transaction. Similarly, if you cater to seniors or medically-fragile people, you’ll need to enhance cleaning and safety protocols above and beyond the norm. Whatever you can reasonably do to make you a more attractive option than the competition is exactly what needs to be done.
Stay on top of your reputation.
Your online reputation was important before the pandemic, but perhaps even more so now that people are staying home and buying and researching online more than ever. Your online reputation consists of the information found about you on social media, websites, and review platforms. Something as seemingly simple as a low star rating can now mean the difference between success and failure.
To manage your online persona, start by taking control of accounts linked to your business. Google, Facebook, and other online portals auto-generate listings, which you can claim. You also want to create accounts with social media sites and make sure that you respond and interact with customers on them. Since content is largely what pushes your website to the top of the search results, make sure that you release engaging articles, blog posts, videos, and other media often, and that each of these is search engine optimized.
Keeping your business afloat in uncertain times is no doubt a daunting task. But when your entrepreneurial heart won’t let you fail, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. From hiring the right talent to taking care of basic administrative tasks to keeping your reputation intact, everything you do now will determine your success or failure as we move forward and out of a pandemic economy.
Written by Patrick Young – ableusa.info