University of Houston Small Business Development Center
By Michelle Loredo
The ongoing pandemic and its impact on small businesses continue to evolve nationwide. In Texas, the business health and in-person capacity guidelines continue to be revised and updated as the COVID-19 situation keeps developing.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau Small Business Pulse survey, from April 2020, the general trend is that businesses have either seen a moderate to a considerable negative effect.
To help you adapt and be nimble in your small business strategy, we have put together everything you need to know about how to survive COVID-19 as a small business.
Adapting Your Business Model
The ongoing pandemic has changed the way that we operate and interact in the business world. It has impacted work-life, safety precautions, limited one-on-one and customer interactions with businesses.
A way to adapt to the current situation is to concentrate on areas of your business that you know will bring you profit. For example, if you are a coffee shop owner and some of the more extravagant flavors do not sell, this can be the moment to retire the flavors. This strategy puts your profitable items at the forefront of your business and removes what negatively affects your cash flow.
You can also diversify what your business offers to the public. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you can add different items that people find essential at this time. For example,
Another possible change you can make to your business model that can give you a sense of stability in the ever-changing economy is to move from monthly accounting reports to day-to-day expenditure tracking. It can give you a better outlook of how the economy is doing by keeping up day-to-day on the effects COVID-19 has on the economy. The daily financial strategy can provide insight into what your business has to adjust to keep afloat in this environment.
Creating and Updating Business Health Plan
The health of your employees and customers should be of utmost importance. There are different guidelines you can follow to keep your business safe.
Locally, the Harris County Public Health Office has a website with different tools to help you with your health plan. It includes free testing locations, Harris County business health and safety policy, virus updates and local phone line information resources. In Harris County, businesses that fail to create and implement health and safety policies can be fined $1,000 for each infraction.
At the state level, there also other guidelines that can help you outline the recommended health protocols. The website offers health and business-specific guidelines. It also includes information about state-wide openings and business capacity.
Your health plan has to be up-to-date with the health guidelines outlined by local and state governments. You can avoid fines by having a living-and-breathing health plan that can make your customers feel safer doing business with you.
Your plan can include working remotely, providing PPE to employees and customers, temperature checks for all, employee self-reporting surveys, and business initiatives to provide COVID-19 testing for staff.
Cultivate Internal and External Communication
Transparent communication is fundamental in your strategy to adapt as changes happen in the ongoing pandemic. They can provide fruitful information that can help you thrive in the new normal.
Externally, your customers can help you get insight into your market. From customer feedback surveys, you can create a strategy to market your loyal customers and other marketing campaigns that will bring in income. With their surveys, you can get a sense of how your customers are feeling and what you can adjust, so they feel more at ease. The data can also help you see what marketing strategies worked and what wasn't profitable.
Internally, communicating with your employees and letting them know of the updated health and safety training guidelines and the internal struggles caused by the pandemic. Their feedback can help you develop better business strategies. They can help with different product ideas, different ways to reach the public, business opportunities and creative ways to advertise your business.
Creating and Maintaining Online Presence
Your online presence as a business, more now than ever, needs to be active to let your customers know of your business updates and your upcoming marketing strategies. Take advantage of the online tools that are available to you. For example,
Through these tools, you can reach both existing and potential customers.
Another way to main your online presence is to create an online store or online order service on your website. There are many different options e-commerce website options that are user-friendly and at a low-cost.
If you already have an existing website, you can talk to your provider or website manager to see what you can do.
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