Evaluate and prepare for the future
It’s no secret that the rapid spread of the coronavirus has created significant challenges for businesses both large and small. Almost every business entity has been impacted on some level. Whether due to federal and local mandates, or even a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 within the organization. These changes are a taking significant toll on small business success.
Small businesses are particularly affected by this crisis, largely because of the shift in payments and incoming business. Uncertainty about the future of business is creating fear around the financial wellbeing of small businesses and thus the success of their owners, employees, and families.
Although nobody knows what will happen next, there are steps every small business owner may consider now to prepare for the future. Evaluate the following three steps to develop a strategy that positions your small business for success in the future.
1: Communicate, communicate, communicate
Your primary responsibility as a leader is communication. Communication is critical during this period of uncertainty. Make sure you’re implementing consistent and transparent dialog within all critical aspects of your organization. Your employees, customers, and financial partners are particularly interested in the health of your business.
- Employee communication: Transparency with your staff is key. Employees are bound to feel uncertain or scared about their jobs and incomes. If you don’t communicate consistently and honestly, they could imagine the worst and grow distrustful. In this case, no news is NOT good news for your staff. Set up a weekly video conference to catch your team up on new developments. Be honest and let them know what impact COVID-19 is having on the business. What have the financial impacts been so far, and what steps will you all need to take in order to survive? Reassure them as much as you can while staying truthful. Beyond that, check in with your staff on a personal level. Ask how they’re doing and see if there’s anything you can do to make their situations easier.
- Customer communication: Aside from your staff, your customers will also want to know what’s going on with your small business success. Be proactive in customer communication. Let them know the steps you’re taking to address their needs, your employees, and your own products and services. If you’ve altered your delivery model or hours, update them on the changes so they can continue to support you as much as possible. Also, let them know how they can help you. Your clients are invested in your success and if there is something they can do to support your business let them know.
- Financial communication: Communication with your landlord, vendors, bank, and lenders is crucial. Be transparent and open with your situation and the impact on your business with partners to ensure you’re getting all the help you can. Ask questions and communicate your needs—you’d be surprised at how willing these organizations might be to help. Is your landlord willing to defer your rent? Will the bank let you defer a loan payment or two? Can your equipment supplier find a financial situation that works for you both? Being proactive about these requests can give you the financial tools you need.
2: Spend Wisely
While cutting costs is important, understanding what expenses make the most impact is critical to your small business success. Financial control is paramount during this time of economic uncertainty. Find ways to maximize or preserve your cash flow and reduce operating expenses so your business can meet obligations that you can’t defer even if receivables are down.
Take a look at where every penny from your business is going. Are there any cash leaks? Try to identify every expense to determine which costs are needed and which are not supporting the health of your business. Can you do virtual client meetings instead of in-person appointments over lunch? Is there a way to minimize supply expenses? Every penny counts right now, so avoid spending on unnecessary extras.
3: Revise your 2020 Plans
You probably prepared for 2020 with a strategic plan, budget, and sales forecasts based on the past year’s experience. Nobody could have predicted closures to of this magnitude, so consider adjusting your goals to reflect new opportunities and challenges.
- Review your Strategy and Vision: Now is a good time to review the strategy and vision of your company. Do your values align with your company? Are you meeting the needs of your clients? Where are the blind spots you need to focus on for future success?
- Reevaluate new forecasts: Take this time to look at what your sales forecasts were and how COVID-19 might have changed. Set a conservative plan through the rest of 2020 to see how that impacts your business financials overall.
- Brainstorm sales-boosting techniques: Now is also a great time to implement changes that meet the unique needs of the health crisis. Bring your team together to brainstorm ideas for target markets, products to offer, and new sales tactics for during and after the pandemic.
- Reset your operating budget: A revised sales forecast, updated financials, and a new marketing plan can change your budget for the year. Take a look at the numbers and alter your 2020 budget to make sure your business can weather the storm.
Remember, communication, spending wisely and resetting your plans will help you conduct business effectively. These skills will help you come out on the other side of this pandemic with a successful small business.
About AlphaGraphics Kansas City
Located in the creative Crossroads Arts District, AlphaGraphics Kansas City is a certified Women-Owned business that specializes in helping Kansas City businesses solve marketing problems. The printing company’s production specialties include custom digital color and large format printing.
For further information about AlphaGraphics Kansas City and their capabilities, contact the AGKC team at 816-842-4200 or visit their website, AlphaGraphics KC.