By: Tatyana Parham
Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of small businesses have experienced tremendous effects that have negatively impacted the health of their business. While the economy slowly begins to reopen, it's important to strategize how your small business can adapt and rebuild while we work to establish a "new normal". An SBDC free business advisor can provide substantial assistance to any small business owner dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, offering resources and guidance at no cost, in areas such as Marketing, Operations, Finances, Management, and more. This guide can help you plan how a free business advisor can assist you with getting your business back on track after a crisis.
Help to Assess Financial Damages
The first step towards full business recovery is to identify the areas in which your business has been financially impacted by the pandemic. After over a year of mandatory shutdowns, changes in consumer spending habits, and an overall shift to remote work and virtual operations, determining your business's overall financial standing is fundamental to business continuity. A free business advisor can help you take inventory of the scope of your business's financial performance over the past year, and how it compares to previous years' figures. This includes updating your financial statements - specifically profit and loss and cash flow - to fully assess how your finances have been directly affected. Further, it's important to consider other ways your company has been financially impacted, aside from your cash flow. For example, reducing your advertising budget to stay afloat, or having to lay off a percentage of your team, should all be accounted for while assessing your business's financial needs.
Refresh Your Business Plan
Next, your business advisor can help you revamp your business plan to realign your business goals and objectives for success. You may need assistance developing an entirely new business model for a seamless adjustment to a new normal. How are you reaching new customers and consistently communicating with loyal clients to retain a strong consumer base? Do you need to modify your current operations strategy and expand to virtual services, in order to accommodate more remote clients? Or maybe your projected sales goals for the year aren't realistic anymore, and you need help optimizing your targets to reflect the current state of your industry. Additionally, a free business advisor can help you analyze your competitors and industry as a whole, identifying trends and opportunities that can help your business flourish and appeal to target consumers in a time of general uncertainty.
Help to Secure Funding
It's likely that your small business now needs additional working capital for management and operations, as a result of the detrimental impacts of the pandemic. There are several economic aid options available to small businesses affected by COVID-19, and a free business advisor can help guide you through the entire process to secure potential funding. The SBA currently provides two main sources of COVID-related funding: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is designed to provide financial relief for small businesses struggling with payroll costs; and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which support businesses suffering from substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other funding options may include small business term loans from banks, credit unions, and online lenders; business credit cards or lines of credit; inventory and equipment financing; and minority small business grants, to name a few. In addition to scheduling an appointment with an advisor, you can learn about these resources in our free daily live webinars.
Develop Your Strategy to Rebuild
Overall, a free business advisor can help you take a step back and see a bird's-eye-view of your complete business strategy, and help you restructure your business goals to move forward. Instead of wasting time in areas that aren't lucrative for your business's growth, you can use a business advisor to help you identify your business's most pressing objectives and create a custom game plan and timeline that is tailored for your business's specific needs. In addition to securing funding, you and your advisor may prioritize rehiring employees, shopping for more cost-effective suppliers, restocking inventory, refreshing your website design, enhancing marketing campaigns and branding, or revamping your social media strategy, for example. These areas may seem overwhelming to tackle alone, but a business advisor can provide clarity, expertise, and additional resources to help your business recover from some of the lasting effects of the pandemic.
Create a Disaster Preparedness Plan
As COVID-19 and other natural disasters have caused unpredictable hardship for so many small businesses, a business advisor can help you assess what you've learned throughout the pandemic to prepare for future crises. For instance, if you didn't have much liquid cash savings to insulate your business from major damages during the pandemic, you may need to focus on an updated budget and savings plan to have extra funds available for the next crisis. You may have also learned how to keep your business model fluid, so you are able to quickly and efficiently adapt in time of an emergency (i.e. a sudden switch to a remote or hybrid workforce, or expanding your business model to include food delivery options). It is best to be as prepared as possible for multiple worst-case scenarios, to give your business a better chance at surviving anything the future may bring.
In conclusion, if you need assistance with business recovery after dealing with impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are not alone! Th UH SBDC Network is here to provide small business owners with the resources and guidance you need to start getting your business back on track.
To schedule a free virtual appointment with an SBDC business advisor today, click here.