The Business Owner’s Guide to Riding Out COVID-19
by Gloria Martinez
Gloria Martinez loves sharing her business expertise and hopes to inspire other women to start their own businesses. She created Women-Led to make an avenue for her vision to help women advance in the workplace and spotlight achievements.
The last year has been difficult for all of us, but business owners have taken a particularly intense load since the pandemic began. Not only do you have to manage your own personal stress and safety, but you must also figure out how to keep your business moving forward — often in the face of shutdowns, customer and employee fears, and general economic uncertainty. Suffice to say, it’s been a tough time.
However, we are approaching the light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccination is underway, and more and more people are inoculated and ready to re-enter the world. As a result, small businesses are likely to see business pick up and things turn around relatively soon. Here are some tips for how you can make it through the next few months and capitalize on our return to normalcy.
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Evaluate Your Business’s Current Condition
If your business has been hit hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19, now is a great time to assess your current situation. Many business owners put off these kinds of assessments due to fear or stress, but procrastinating won’t make things any better — and, indeed, it might just make them worse. Sit down with a financial advisor and go over your cash flow statements over the last year to identify what your business needs. Together, you can come up with a strong recovery plan.
There are many steps you might take to pick up the pieces and come out of all of this stronger. For example, you might realize that your business structure isn’t working well for you. Many small businesses run as sole proprietorships, simply because it’s an easy (and free) way to start off. However, the tax advantages and legal protections you’d get as a limited liability company might make a structure change worth it.
Another thing to consider is whether you’ll need to hire new employees when business picks up. If you’re looking to take on staff, you’ll need a system for tracking and calculating payroll. For businesses with only a few employees, a 2021 payroll calendar template can work with other payroll tools (e.g., scheduling, time tracking) to organize your payroll process. Organizing your payroll is essential for keeping accurate business records.
Make (and Use) Professional Connections
In a small town, community is everything. We have to help those around us — and ask them for help in return — in order for anyone to thrive. That’s why professional networking is such an invaluable step for small business owners. Start by identifying your support team. This can include friends and family, other business owners, former coworkers, employees, and more. Take some time to think about what each of these groups does for you and how you can support them in kind.
If you don’t have as large or effective a network as you’d like, consider joining your chamber of commerce. Groups like these have a ton to offer as far as resources and information are concerned, and you often get a significant return on your membership investment. If you don’t have the budget to join outright, it’s still worth it to get in touch and express your interest — there may be free or low-cost resources you can access while you save up to join.
Look Toward the Future
Many businesses have just been in survival mode for the last year. If that’s the case for you, that’s fine — but now is the time to start thinking about how you’ll grow and recover in the post-COVID-19 world. Soon, the dust from all this will start to settle and we’ll get a sense of what that world is going to look like. However, there are some safe bets you can make now to prepare.
For example, most experts believe that customers will continue to want remote and delivery options for goods and services. If you’ve incorporated these changes into your business plan, consider making them permanent. Take a look through other predictions for what we can expect after COVID-19 and adapt your business accordingly.
This has been a trying time for small businesses, but we hope this guide helps you come up with a solid game plan for the next few months. Soon this will be behind us — with the right moves now, your business will be ready to enter a prosperous new stage.
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