Gone are the hopes that the pandemic would be over by the end of 2020. What has already been a rough year for small businesses now seems to be concluding with a holiday season tainted by the coronavirus. To stay afloat, businesses need to develop a COVID coping strategy. Here’s everything you need to know going into the 2020 holiday season and getting ready for 2021.
- COVID continues to spread, which means that small businesses should maintain or improve their protective measures.
- Business owners must develop low risk, flexible strategies to boost their company’s resilience.
- Going virtual or offering online shopping is an excellent way to serve customers this holiday season.
Implement Or Strengthen Sanitation Protocols
Many metropolitan areas are showing signs of a second wave. With the impending flu season, public health officials are concerned about the impact on communities. Some states are already considering a new lock down. Even if your area doesn’t currently require masks or hygiene protocols, you can help protect your business and reduce the spread by implementing CDC recommended practices. These include:
- regular wipe downs of frequently touched surfaces
- hand sanitizer stations
- required face coverings
- Plexiglas shields
- advanced cleaning protocols
- maximum capacity for smaller venues
- improved air filtration and/or outdoor seating
- socially distanced seating and checkout queues
Expand Online Operations
Online shopping has been on the rise for years, and all signs point to unprecedented levels of virtual commerce this holiday season. Many people will be sheltering in place or limiting their in person errands.
If your business hasn’t yet implemented an eCommerce store, online portal, video consultations, or other ways to serve customers virtually, now is the perfect time to do so. Over the past few years, consumers have shown a bigger demand for such conveniences anyway. Improving your online operations is a wise investment in your business.
If you were able to avoid laying off your staff or received relief from the CARES Act, your goal is now to maintain your momentum during the second wave. If you had to lay off employees, you might be short staffed for the holidays or struggling to hire new people. One of the best things you can do is look for ways to reduce your fixed costs.
Many small businesses use phone, internet, or utility services that drastically contribute to their overhead. Try switching to VoIP and implementing energy saving measures to save money. You can also look for recurring expenses that you can cut, such as downgrading your project management system, limiting your printing, or finding a different vendor for your business supplies.
Boost Your Team’s Morale
The holidays are already a stressful time, and most people are feeling immense fatigue from 2020. With no end to the pandemic in sight, your employees may be feeling weary and disconnected, especially if many of them are remote. Promote a strong company culture by hosting regular check ins, virtual happy hours, and a general sense of community support.
Consider offering flexible hours and sick leave if you are able so that people feel like they can tend to their families during this difficult time. When you lead with compassionate communication, you’re more likely to retain your employees and improve their productivity.
Prepare For A Tumultuous 2021
Even if things get better in 2021, there’s no reason you shouldn’t prepare for some ups and downs. You now know how resilient your business is to economic fluctuations. Act accordingly: build your 2021 budget and strategy to accommodate potential lock downs, supply chain disruptions, and drops in revenue. Outsource tasks when possible so that your core team can help you sustain the business.
You should also speak to your insurance advisor about potential disaster protection. Focus on building up a cash cushion, and avoid making large capital investments that don’t have an immediate payoff. You might also consider spending your marketing budget on brand building and retargeting, rather than low ROI tactics such as PPC and cold outreach.
It’s clear that the “new normal” is here for the foreseeable future. As a business owner, you can protect your business by playing it safe. Being proactive and preventative is crucial to ward off potential infections and keeping you in business.
Even if the pandemic doesn’t directly affect you, remember that your supply chain and customer demand may be impacted. Stay flexible, efficient, and communicative to weather the storm. With careful preparation, you can tackle the 2020 holiday season and new year with greater confidence.