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COVID-19: How Small Businesses Can Handle the Coronavirus Outbreak

The coronavirus has been listed as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, bringing shockwaves to the global economy. As the coronavirus creeps into the Australian economy, small businesses have been thrown off the yoke. This period is inevitably going to be hard but there are still some steps a business owner can take to minimize losses and keep the shutters from going down.

small business corona
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#1 Conserve Cash

Make sure that you get yourself adequate lines of credit. Talk to your bank and see if you can get yourself a short-term lending facility or a short-term overdraft something to tide you over the next 90 days. Managing your cash flow should be the first item on the agenda for small businesses. Prepare a cash flow forecast which will warn you of potential cash flow problems. Here are some ways you can increase your cash flow during this time:

  • Seek out other investors to see if they can inject cash into the business
  • Cut spending you believe unnecessary in a crisis, such as hiring
  • Negotiate installment plans with the tax authorities
  • Bill as soon as your product or service is delivered
  • Sell or lease out assets you don’t need.

#2 Change Aspects of Your Business If You Can:

If you can find other services to offer that is more essential, do it. Think of this period like a natural experiment where you can test new lines of business and see what sticks. Also, make a contingency plan for the next 90 days. Are there other possibilities for your small business to stay operational? Can you find alternative suppliers? Can you change your business model to continue to serve your clients (i.e. delivery of food instead of having sit-in customers.) You can also increase the effort spend on customer support online via phone and email support, Skype or Zoom.

If you can do so, shift your business online. For instance, in Wuhan, the cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan closed 40% of its stores — but the brand’s 100+ beauty advisors took to digital platforms like WeChat to engage customers virtually and increase online sales.

#3 Control What You Can Control:

Rather than panicking about lost business, focus on how you can utilize this time on strategizing for the future. There are also systems or processes that need improvement and you can use this time to do so. For example, you can work on your business blog, improve your landing page or learn new skills.

#4 Open & Honest Communication

We would strongly suggest you get ahead of the curve and talk to your external stakeholders including your customers, leads, social media followers and your suppliers You can issue a press statement on your website with details of

  • how your business is doing and what delays can be expected
  • how are you responding to the virus
  • the steps you are taking to protect your customer’s health

As far as internal communication is concerned, your HR departments should pull together a guide that including

  • impact of the crisis on your business
  • the management team who people can contact in emergencies
  • changes in policies affecting customers and employees
  • tools to be used for communication

#5 Do Not Cease Marketing Entirely:

People are spending time alone more frequently than usual during the current lockdown. Now, selling your products/services may not be the best move but you can shift your strategy to brand awareness instead. You can post lighthearted and positive content on social media to take people’s minds off the panic while still showing up on their feed.

For all the latest Government information on COVID-19 and the measures the Government please visit resources from the Department of Health or the Australian Government.