3 ways to jump-start your small business during COVID

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Amy Sloane

Whether or not you’ve been able to keep your doors open, the COVID-19 pandemic has done a number on a lot of small businesses. Assessing where you are and what you need to move forward is critical now. Additionally, you’ll need to determine what aspects can continue, what you need to shed, and where you need to expand.

Increase funding options

Rebuilding your business may mean getting some more funding in place. This process can be time-consuming, but if you need to get your doors open, you’ll need raw stock, inventory and staff to move ahead.

There are many sources of funding for your business, including:

-SBA loans

-SBA microfinancing

-Business credit cards

-Equity in your building and equipment

If you’re hoping to get government dollars, apply early, and make contingency plans. Federal funding is extremely limited at this point, so having a backup will serve you as you maneuver your way into a post-COVID business world.

In the event that you simply don’t have start-up cash at this point, strive to increase your business cash by personal means. For married small business owners, it may be possible to rely on a spouse’s income with the caveat that you have emergency coverage in the event the spouse becomes unemployed or is too sick to work because one round of quarantining can be a serious hit to the bottom line of any employee.

Finally, take a hard look at your business budget. Should you choose to go without pay to keep your business going, make sure you have the extra dollars in the bank to give your business some elbow room so you can boost advertising, start a new product line, or create another income stream.

Expand your digital options

If you’re investing, look for ways to increase your online presence. Seek out a contracted social media manager to keep an eye on your business online. Hire a texting service confirming appointments, as appropriate, and promoting your products, services, and sales.

If you don’t have a website, get one rolling. Consider getting a basic site that offers information on your services and offerings, particularly if your business offerings change on a regular basis. For those who sell finished food goods, getting a daily notification out there about the special of the day can help you keep the doors open.

For those who own a brick and mortar business, COVID-19 has been a hard lesson. Your business can go from humming along to full stop in weeks, so do your best to have plans in place to pivot before the next shutdown crisis.

Generate pivot points before the next crisis

Focusing on your business while creating new product lines outside your current scope can be a serious challenge. For a small manufacturer that focuses on metals, a move into another raw product, such as additive manufacturing, may require new staff, new tooling, and training for your current engineering staff.

As a leader in your business, do your best to share information with your employees on any new products or offerings you plan to make. One of the big challenges for employers and employees alike is that COVID-19 has created a huge change in our professional and personal lives. Worse, that change has a horizon of uncertainty that is almost impossible to see past.

Change isn’t easy. It can be downright scary, and many of the employees currently dealing with COVID-19 in their personal lives may be struggling to find child care, manage elder care, or facing foreclosure or eviction. A change in their work expectations may be enough to throw them into an emotional loop.

Layout the data about production changes logically. Let your current employees know that existing products will continue, though the output may change, and that new production lines are about building a broader base to protect all of you against the next economic shock.

COVID-19 has taught the business world some hard lessons, and one of the biggest ones is that we need some extra liquidity to manage big bumps. While personal financial experts encourage individuals to have six months of savings in the bank, obviously even that protection would be ineffective as we move toward 2021. Get your financing in order, make sure you’re reaching clients in every way possible, and build pivots to help you quickly move in a new direction.

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Amy Sloane is an alum of Oregon State University where she studied marketing and business. She spends her free time writing and is a knitting enthusiast. Amy loves reading, cooking, and spending time with her dog, Molly. Follow her on Twitter to read her latest blogs @AmySloane2.

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