If you’d said to most small business owners back in March 2020 that they’d have to put up with a severely restricted economy for the best part of a year, and possibly even longer, then you might have gotten reactions ranging from incredulity to despair.
The pandemic’s effects on the economy have been profound, and potentially long-lasting, and it’s small businesses which have born the largest brunt of the damage. Since we’re not quite out of the woods yet, with the first doses of the vaccine having only just been administered to a minority of vulnerable categories of people, small businesses still have a good few months of restrictions to get through.
So, what strategies can we deploy to help us through what will hopefully be the last leg of a particularly gruelling marathon?
Keep Staff Vigilant
When the initial restrictions were first announced, Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty warned of the danger of complacency setting in after we’d been in lockdown for long enough. And now that we’ve been through three lockdowns, you staff could be forgiven for the occasional lapse in vigilance.
The way to get around this is through procedure. Make the health of your staff and customers a priority by issuing frequent reminders, and delegating managers to ensure that social distancing measures are still being complied with.
This goes even for people who’ve had their first dose of the vaccine – people who, according to the experts, are still vulnerable.
Keeping the Business Afloat
It’s time to double down on all of the measures you’ve put into place to make your business fit for a locked-down economy. That means investing more into digital services, home delivery, and online marketing. Maintain your visibility on social media, such that your customers will still recognise your brand when the restrictions are entirely lifted.
Without adequate cash flow, the gears of your business are going to grind to a halt. Businesses should take advantage of every support scheme offered by government, including statutory sick pay relief and the job retention scheme, as well as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. CBILS loans will help you to keep the lights on, and to pay your invoices, even when times are lean.
Plan for disaster
The pandemic should have demonstrated to everyone the importance of disaster preparedness. It’s almost a given that, whatever plans you lay at, they’ll be upset by the course of real-world events. Therefore, it’s worth preparing for a range of contingencies, to limit your risk of being blindsided.
Drive Morale Upwards
It’s been a bit of a grueling year for everyone, but among the benefits is that the value of mental health is now more widely recognized. Provide your staff with the support they need, including online gaming sessions, informal Zoom chats, and the occasional one-to-one check-in session. By displaying concern for your employees, you’ll improve feelings of goodwill toward the business. Which, when you need all hands on deck, is certain to be invaluable!