Small business owners are dealing with challenges of all kinds, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, it means that business has slowed down or halted completely.
If this is your reality, you may find this “business hibernation” period very challenging: financially, emotionally, and strategically. Real cats might sleep over half of their existence, but Business Kitties don’t do that – we take action!
In normal business mode, you rarely get the time to rest or be strategic. The silver lining on all of these challenges might very well be the fact that you can pick up a new skill you’ve needed for a long time, do some housekeeping with your bookkeeping or website, or any number of activities that will help you greatly longer term.
Whatever the case may be, let’s look at 7 ways you can use a pandemic slowdown to your hbusiness’ advantage. And when this hibernation period comes to end, your company can emerge stronger than ever, even if it ends up being a new venture or some other outcome. You Can Do This.
1. Take care of yourself
This Business Kitty has always taken advantage of a down cycle to rest and regroup. This is the time for you to do you, no matter what that looks like, and without guilt. Some of us might cope with stress by doubling down on our efforts, but it is perfectly acceptable (and common among the most successful people) to catch up on sleep and personally fulfilling activities, and come back later when the market makes it easier for you to shine.
2. Get financial help
There have been government programs all year, and though many of them are past, there are still options available like SBA loans, EIDL, or PPP. So long as you have decent credit, you can also explore refinancing or conventional loans. Requirements may be stringent but interest rates remain low and presumably will continue to remain low for the rest of the year. Again, assuming your credit isn’t bad, the major banks continue to be friendly with 0% or balance transfer offers for credit cards that might offer cash back or other attractive features.
Bottom line? If you need help covering your bills or paying your employees, now is the time to take advantage of these programs. Take a day to explore, research, and potentially apply for a disaster loan to cover your expenses. The effort is worth it. Atlas Bookkeeping CAN help you if you feel overwhelmed. After all, these lending initiatives are in place specifically to help small businesses weather the COVID-19 storm.
If you need support with your SBA application, Bench is here to help. They have a team of experts ready to answer your questions about the SBA loan eligibility and forgiveness.
3. Get your books in order
Shameless plug for Atlas Bookkeeping! And if you are not ready to hire us, then you are welcome to ask for some free advice and templates to help get your chaos in order. If business is slow, this is the PERFECT time to get your “back of the house” operations properly organized.
Here are some of the top financial clean-up tasks to consider:
- Audit your books to check for errors and improvements
- Follow up on past due invoices
- Re-evaluate your product and/or service pricing strategy
- Research software platforms to see if you can save on fees
- Review your business tools and subscriptions to try to lower costs
- Negotiate better terms with your vendors
When it comes to the long-term health of your business, staying on top of your finances is essential. Yes, Atlas can help you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
4. Get your taxes done and PLANNED for next year
Once your books are in better shape, you’ll be in better shape to figure out your taxes. If you don’t have a tax accountant, or you need a better one, then please ask Atlas for referrals or shop around. Taxes are complex in a normal year, and perhaps even more so in a pandemic year. No matter how tight you are on finances, it is worth paying a proper tax accountant because they will pay for themselves in time, advice, accuracy, and tax savings.
5. Build or refine your online presence
Technology is constantly changing, so even a website that’s two years old is a bit outdated. How are you with social media? Content marketing can have a huge impact on your business, so now is the time to research what your competitors do, and do something similar/better.
- Website: Is your website is functional and current? Does it really reflect your brand both visually and verbally? Do all the links work? Do you understand SEO and how impactful your rankings can be?
- Social media: Connect more deeply with your customers by responding to comments more frequently, post new content (such as video), and participate in other social media platforms you might not have gotten around to. Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
- Online portfolio: Show your best work! if you haven’t updated your portfolio or recommendations/reviews in awhile, this is the perfect time.
- eCommerce shop: If you’re in this line of business, then it’s a perfect time to update photos and copy, refine your offerings, delete any “dogs” and no that’s not a Business Kitty joke but it could be! meow
5. Master a new skill
This could be something you always wanted to learn simply for self-fulfillment – for example, this Business Kitty took up violin as an adult! It’s very joyful and one of the most challenging skills I’ve ever attempted (and I’ve launched multiple businesses). Or you might need a certain skill to become a better business leader or worker bee, It’s an intense world out there. Now is the best time to learn and grow, feel better about yourself and set yourself up for a better future. The internet is full of free content to help you acquire whatever skills you seek. You might also hire a trainer, teacher, or coach.
6. Communicate with your clients and be a Real Human Being
Everyone is feeling the stress of the pandemic and other factors this year. EVERYONE. Even the ones who are rapidly growing in business because of those dynamics. Even the person you’ve known for years who constantly tells you they’re doing great. So if you feel the need to cocoon and communicate with nobody… that’s OK. But if you can muster the energy, it’s that much more important to nurture your relationships, find ways to genuinely connect with each other, and offer free help if you can afford to do so, emotionally or financially. These are the actions that will keep you in business and boost your success when times are better. The kind of loyalty you can gain in a time like this is pricess.
Make the most of your COVID-19 challenges
Slowing down is tough. Working twice as hard is also tough. Whether you want to take this time to be productive or simply take care of your mental and physical well-being, both will help you come out stronger than ever on the other side.