Things for A Small Business To Remember in Times of Crisis
Small businesses are essential to every community. They help to provide unique variety and can offer exciting alternatives that a large corporation cannot provide. Small businesses also create a community. A small business’s priorities are often different, they cannot always offer the cheapest product, but they pride themselves in quality and customer service. Sometimes the most affordable product is not the best one. The generosity and kindness that much small ‘businesses pour into the people they serve are quite admirable.
Although we must remember they are still a business too, they have a product to sell and projections to reach, and they need their consumers’ help, especially during times of crisis. In times of crisis, it is hard to understand what is allowed and what is not. You want to make sure you are coming to the best resolution, but how can you be sure you are doing the right thing. Here are some tips that will help you navigate your small business through such an unsure course of action.
Ask for help
During COVID-19, there were many loans created in states to offer funds to small businesses struggling during a very unprecedented time. Many small towns called out to their consumers and offered special discounts to their market to keep afloat. Some business owners gave their employees a weekly stipend to spend on nearby small businesses to show their support. In a world of growing corporations, small businesses know how to help others and value the community before anything else.
Look after your team.
Communication in a work environment is essential to smooth and successful work experience. During a crisis, communication is even more critical. During COVID-19, people either continued to come to work under varying circumstances, were sent home to work remotely, or were furloughed from their jobs for a prolonged period. Checking in with your team allows them to know you as their employer is considering their lives. Employees depend on their company for their livelihood, and to keep people involved and in good spirits, you must check in with them.
Now, checking in with your team does not mean you have to have a master plan in place. COVID-19 put mass pressure on employers to have all the answers, and nearly every employer did not. We, as a community, relied on political officials to guide us to a successful solution. So, checking in with your team means a call or chat with them to see how they are doing and to hear their needs. Even if you cannot fulfill all their requirements, just listening to them allows more people to feel safe because they are being thought about as the company is adapting to the ongoing crisis.
Never underestimate the power of customer relationships.
For small businesses, this has never been truer. Small business, more often than corporations has a unique opportunity to form close relationships with their consumers. Very often, people are creatures of habit. This habit can come from the family circle. If your parents used the same soap brand to clean everything, you, as an adolescent, grew to know this brand and would almost unknowingly recognize it in stores when shopping for household items for your first apartment. Thus, carrying on this trend for your life into your children’s lives and so on. This can be the same as the restaurants you eat at or the clothes you buy. When asked why people will respond with “Oh, I don’t know, it is just what my parents used to buy.”
Even during times of crisis, people will continue to support those brands and businesses at any cost because of the sentimental feeling it gives them. Many restaurants saw the same people ordering take out or continuing to dine in even during these unprecedented times even with limited seating and other changes. These customers are the most understanding and continue to return because that is a place of comfort and joy for them. Small businesses are great at forming these tight-knit relationships for their customers, and we must commend them for it.
Keep an eye on your metrics.
While taking care of your company internally is great for company morale, you, as an employer, must make sure this is feasible for your business. Your employees will be far better off if you can stay open longer than continuing to employ them for just a short time until you cannot sustain it any longer. For many small businesses, it is not if you can be open or not legally; it is about being sustainable under opening restrictions.
Depending on your fixed costs, it may not be possible for you to turn the lights on at a lower building/room capacity. A restaurant may not be able to pay the bills with only a 50% dine in capacity. If you are a business that has reopened but is still under restrictions, these metrics need to be monitored daily. These metrics tell you how long you can sustain yourself, the people you employ, and the customers you bring joy to. It is heart-wrenching to see so many small ‘businesses that were staples in the community fade away because they cannot feasibly stay open longer.
This is all the more reason to plan for a crisis. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that anything can happen. It is better to be over-prepared than under. Put some money away for when your business needs it most. The same goes for people and families.