10 tips to guide your business through the COVID-19 epidemic

By Kevin DUCHEYNE

Surviving in a competitive globalized market while doing business under ‘normal’ circumstances as a start-up, a small- or medium-sized company is already somewhat of a rollercoaster ride.

Plenty of what is going on is out of your hands. However, at this point, it is essential to focus on what you can control. This selective focus is crucial if you want your organization to survive the coronavirus pandemic. What can you do to keep your business afloat during the economic fallout of COVID-19?

Here are ten tips to help you guide your business through the COVID-19 epidemic:

1. Communicate clearly

Nip confusion and disinformation in the bud. Inform the people on whom you rely (e.g., your employees, customers, and suppliers). Updates coming from the horse’s mouth are essential. Educate them about your company’s perspective on the pandemic, the steps you will undertake—such as operational changes—and try to help them stay safe. Your employees, customers, and suppliers are looking for support and empathy in these uncertain times.

2. Be creative with the alternative channels of communication at your disposal. 

The technology is out there (e.g., social media, apps, email, etc.). Your candor and creativity can facilitate a confidence boost and raise awareness in favor of your organization. Adopting omnichannel solutions can help with customer retention during times of crisis.

3. Focus on increasing your business flexibility.

Try to find ways that allow you to stay productive during isolation. Develop new strategies, methods, or processes if need be. Furthermore, you can consider the following: Is there a way to improve your online sales, services, or products rapidly? Is the work activity of your employees suitable for teleworking?

4. Decentralize

There is much to be said about whether an organization should be centralized or decentralized. There’s no reason to get into that now. However, COVID-19 forces many entrepreneurs to restructure their organization. Mainly when they dispersed their operations to several remote locations. Some of the pros of this strategy are that it can relieve your burden of daily business operations, empower your employees (autonomy has that effect on people), and allow your organization to react swiftly to a crisis. Perhaps you can look into some must-have SaaS (Software as a Service) tools to facilitate this transition. Who knows, perhaps this new model turns out to be beneficial for your business in the long run.

5. Change or scale down your operations.

In light of falling demand, implementing temporary measures might be required. When you want to guide your business through the COVID-19 epidemic taking extra steps can be helpful. Actions such as lowering working hours, providing annual leave, freezing new hires, or reducing contractors’ numbers will be cost-saving.

6. Review your budget

Create a new three-month financial plan for your firm. Contact your creditors. Try to find out if they are willing to negotiate to spread your costs for the next couple of months. Subsequently, focus actively on debtor management. Try to collect the invoices that have passed their due date.

7. Offer an early payment discount to clients

This measure can keep your cash flow from drying up too quickly during the economic fallout of COVID-19. Because in these times, your standard payment terms could take your cash flow hostage.

8. Cut business costs

An obvious suggestion, but you can use this COVID-19 epidemic to analyze your business costs. Try to figure out which expenses you can reduce without affecting your overall efficiency.

9. Find out what kind of support your government offers

Some governments provide tax exemptions. Others offer various financial initiatives to keep your operation up and running. Sign up for these initiatives and utilize them.

10. Switch to a sustainable and socially equitable way of doing business

Bear with us on this one. Doing business in a sustainable and socially equitable way might help your business through the economic fallout of COVID-19 that awaits us. Stop focusing on short term economic growth and stop doing business as usual. Align your collective mission and vision with a strategy focused on the long-term survival of your company. The job security of your employees, the well-being of your clients, and offering sustainable services can be the new pillars you focus on. Consequently, your employees’ loyalty and productivity will increase. Also, your company’s brand recognition might improve simultaneously. Think about the following: What is your vision? What is your mission? Which good practices can you develop in the light of this crisis?

“We have to bring this world back to sanity and put the greater good ahead of self-interest.”

Paul Polman, Unilever

For a more extensive guide, you can download: An employer’s guide on managing your workplace during COVID-19 (published by the International Labour Organization). This guide offers more useful and detailed answers for all you entrepreneurs out there. Just remember that a sustainable contingency plan, innovation, and preparation during these turbulent times can strengthen your business and brand recognition. Make the best from the obstacles that you are facing and endure the storm. This too shall pass. Feel free to get in touch with LSBC if you are looking for some extra tips and tricks to guide your business through the COVID-19 epidemic.