How Can You Protect Your Business During the COVID-19 Crisis?
2020 is a challenging year for business due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. Not only is it impacting the lives of people around the world, but it is also affecting the global economy, and locally, it will have an impact on small business owners.
With the coronavirus pandemic tightening rules and restrictions around the world, it's natural for entrepreneurs and businesses to see a growing concern rise concerning surviving this market. Indeed, it's safe to say that it will get challenging over the next couple of months until we resolve the issue at hand. During these tough times, it is vital to take some time and understand the financial position of your business and plan for multiple possible scenarios expected. If you are worried about the outcome of this slowdown, there are some financial moves you can make to protect your position.
Of course, not all businesses are in a position to be able to adapt to the many changes, and there are and will be, significant impacts for many. But hopefully, these tips provide some extra pointers for those that can continue operating. The coronavirus is causing financial difficulties for businesses across the U.S. Here is a complete listing of all of our coronavirus resources for small businesses.
COVID-19 has brought the world's economy to a grinding halt. The economic impact and recovery will last for months, and potentially even years. As congress and other government authorities move to save different areas of the economy, it's important to understand what resources you have available to you as a small business owner.
As of early March 2020, the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has infected nearly 100,000 people, claimed over 3,000 lives and spread to more than 70 countries outside of China where the virus originated. As these numbers are sure to continue to climb in the coming weeks, the disruptive impact on the global travel and hospitality industry is sure to be lasting and significant.
Everyone's priority during this pandemic should be to stay safe and healthy — but maintaining your business's health can be equally important. Take advantage of the following resources so you can stay informed and lessen the impact of the crisis.
This toolkit to help businesses and citizens alike understand how to navigate the coronavirus. There are guidelines on how small business owners can ensure they are keeping their customers and employees safe. The toolkit also includes a business preparedness checklist. This checklist can help you figure out what to prioritise and to create a plan of communication for your employees.
Hotels across the APAC region first impacted by COVID-19 were those that relied on large numbers of inbound Chinese tourists, such as Vietnam who suffered from the widespread travel restrictions imposed by China. Indeed, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism estimated its tourism sector would decline in the range of between $5.9 billion and $7.7 billion as a result of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Now, COVID-19 has also spread to major global tourism markets like Italy and regional business centres like Singapore and South Korea. As a result, the hotel industry is at risk of experiencing a business downturn not just from travel restrictions put in place for Chinese tourists, but from lower levels of global and regional travel in general.
Click here to check out Government updates on COVID-19.
Identify ways to cut back
The time for a cleanse is now. Dig into your ongoing expenses, and identify the ones you can eliminate. In this modern age, apps and software help us with our day-to-day tasks. It's a blessing and a luxury. But this is a time to ask yourself: "Do I need this?" Cost-cutting is not built for comfort. You will go through changes within your business, but every little effort will help you improve your financial health. Take it as an exercise to identify necessity, and cut out luxury.
If you're in the e-commerce business and selling physical products, prepare to be overwhelmed with orders, primarily if you sell food or grocery items. Several online stores, including e-commerce giant Amazon, have limited product availability to what they consider essential, with most of them listing medical supplies and household necessities as available.
As brick-and-mortar stores close temporarily, beefing up your online store and ensuring your customer service department can handle the demand and potential issues are essential. Start checking your inventory to determine what you consider necessary and nonessential products. Also remind your customers that, depending on their location, some products may be prohibited at the moment.
Plan for every outcome
There is a best-case scenario, a worst-case scenario, and everything that falls in between. You cannot avoid the result, but you can prepare yourself for it. Run various scenarios through your cash flow projections. Revenue will take a big hit during this time. Payments will be slower than usual. Cash inflows will become a burden. At this moment, we cannot predict when this pandemic will end. As such, if you have devised a protocol for all possible outcomes, you'll be ready to let it take motion when the time comes.
If protecting your website from hackers wasn't a primary concern before, it should be on the top of your list now. The global pandemic has created an opportunity for cyberattacks as more people are forced to work from home. Phishing and scam websites are on the rise, taking advantage of the people's need for information on COVID-19. Coronavirus phishing emails are now being used to lure people into downloading malware, and thousands of coronavirus-related domains have been registered.
A common scam cybercriminals now use is posing as a World Health Organization representative and trying to get email recipients to provide personal and financial information or to open attachments that are usually system exploits. The WHO has warned people of this and set up a page where you can report suspected scams.
Be wary of emails and attachments from unknown and unverified senders, and ask your customers to practice the same caution.
Manage your online presence.
"Business as usual" maybe something entrepreneurs won't be saying or hearing for a while in light of the pandemic. However, there are ways to keep your customers updated via your own website, your data structure and local business profiles.
Keep your customers updated through FAQ pages that address common questions such as your modified business hours, changes in products or services you offer, and how your business is addressing the COVID-19 crisis. You can also create pages dedicated to COVID-19 if your business or those of your customers are significantly impacted.
Your structured data
Depending on the type of business you run, you should use structured data to highlight content and "tell" search engines what your content is saying. If you have a retail business, for example, you can use the "item availability" structured data type to inform customers of your current product availability. If you are an event organiser or your business had events coming up, there are structured data types to help you update your users on event status – whether events are pushing through, cancelled or going virtual. The pandemic has also motivated the creation of a specific type of structured data for special announcements, which you can also use on your website.
Your local business profiles
In times of crisis or uncertainty, most people go to directory listings or use online search engines to check temporary closures, updated store hours and service availability. Make sure to update your Google My Business profile with any changes to keep your customers in the know.
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People are more reluctant to go out now due to the rise of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. And fewer people outdoors means fewer sales for physical stores. So what can you as a business owner do during this time to keep generating revenue for your store?
One clear option is to sell online. This will allow customers to still shop with you, but, from the comforts of their own homes. It also minimises the risk of coronavirus infection in your physical store.
As an example, Master Kong, an instant noodle and beverage producer in China, moved its focus away from offline to online in anticipation of hoarding and stock-outs due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). So set up your online shop with a POS system like StoreHub, which comes with an eCommerce feature that lets you sell both online and offline easily because it automatically syncs all your available products.
This omnichannel way of stock management lets you know exactly how much total stock you have left. And this is especially important during this time because of ongoing shipment and supplier delays. Once it's set up, promote your online shop via social media/SMS/WhatsApp/email, so people know that you're now selling online.
Make the most of current clients
It is a time to support one another and not gain off of the situation. Treat this as an opportunity to build loyalty with your clients. Offer them special rates to get through this. Be by their side, and maintain the relationship. After all, loyalty is the best investment a business can have. It protects future income and influences new ones.
These are the times to protect our financial position. Take every measure possible. At the end of the day, there is no definite way for a business to protect itself from financial difficulties, but it all boils down to making smart decisions early on.
It's common knowledge that listening to your customers will help you get a pulse on what products or services they want or what they want your business to be. Voice of the customer (VoC) data is a research strategy that takes customer feedback and uses it to help you discover how customers perceive your business or brand.
With the raging pandemic, more and more stores are shutting down, but online sales are soaring, and it's expected that more and more brands will move into the world of e-commerce. How does VoC correlate with online shopping and reviews? Revue recently conducted research showing that online reviews had increased by more than 200%, which makes VoC more crucial than ever.
Gathering VoC data is as simple as asking your customers the right questions. These are the most common ways to do this. Online surveys: This is the easiest and most scalable method. Before you conduct a survey, specify the end goal to yourself and your team, clarifying exactly what you want the survey to achieve.
Social listening: This goes beyond Facebook and Twitter; you should also check customer feedback from product review sites, online forums and blog comments. Find both positive feedback and complaints to give you an overview of customer perception of your brand.
Net Promoter Score: This is a useful gauge of who your loyal customers are. NPS simply asks customers how likely they are to recommend your service to friends, family or colleagues on a scale of 1 to 10. Customers are then grouped into promoters (9-10), passives (7-8) and detractors (0-6).
Sales and foot traffic are down for a lot of brick-and-mortar stores in countries with rising coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, especially the stores that don't sell daily life essentials like toilet paper and canned food.
But there is one thing that we've heard in the small business community in Malaysia (and even Thailand), which has helped these physical stores stay afloat.
Their loyal customers. This makes sense because according to our data, loyal customers spend up to 3 times more than new customers.
So getting your customers to keep coming back is an important thing that you need to focus on during this time where we predict to see a drop in retail sales.
Protect your cash flow
Cash is the oxygen to a business. It flows in and out, keeping the company alive. As long as you have it flowing in, you can make it work. You cannot have a business without cash outflows. A well-balanced cash flow maintains an equal and controlled level of cash inflows and outflows. Engage in new payment options to encourage cash flow. Offer early payment cashback if possible. Survival is the key element here. Always protect your cash position in this market.
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A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a plan that outlines processes and systems to help you prevent and recover from potential threats to your business. The plan ensures your employees and assets are protected and will be able to recover quickly in the event of a disaster.
The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that you can never be complacent when it comes to business. A survey of economists shows that 34% of them predict a recession to hit the U.S. again in 2021. You can continue doing what you do, especially if it's working, but it's vital to prepare for a downturn. Having a contingency plan in today's unpredictable landscape isn't paranoia – it's common sense. Nothing stays good forever; make your business flexible so you can easily adapt to change.
Prepare to work from home.
COVID-19 is a game-changer for many industries because it has forced various companies into a remote working arrangement. Working from home is the current trend, and it's best to prepare your business for this contingency – or, if you've already started, to optimise the situation. Here are a few tips for doing so.
Prepare your home office. Identify what you need to get work done, and find a dedicated area of your home that's comfortable and free from distractions. Consider the lighting, the ergonomics and the placement of objects. Have a way to track time and separate the professional from the personal; ensure that one does not bleed into the other, so you know when one begins and the other ends. Create a data security plan. Working from home can put your data at risk if you're not extra careful. While it's good that you're using your internet connection at home, home internet plans do not have as robust security as business networks. A good rule of thumb for working remotely is to keep work data on your work computers only and make sure your computer is set to encrypt all stored data. Avoid using random flash drives or storage devices, and set up a storage system to use only for work if possible. Make work hours flexible. Working from home may mean working at different hours of the day from the norm. Prepare a plan to account for time differences, productive hours, and times that you may need to take a break to address personal concerns.