It looks like more and more restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic are being relaxed.
For those of us in small business, this is great news.
Some of us may still be wary and worried about contracting the disease as these restrictions are lifted, but even so, we’ll be relieved we can try to get back to business as usual.
But you probably know as I do, that this will take time.
So, it’s important to take some steps now so that we are as prepared as possible for the time when all restrictions are removed.
I have five things for you to think about.
Firstly, remember that your business is nothing without you.
So, the first thing to consider is keeping yourself healthy.
Don’t be complacent. To protect you, your team and your loved ones, keep up the personal hygiene, and where appropriate, the physical distancing of 1.5 metres. Make this the new normal, at least for a while.
Next, it’s time to review and gather your resources.
Take stock of your assets and liabilities, as well as your strengths and weaknesses. This will allow you to identify what’s missing in your armoury.
For example, if your cash reserves have run low, how are you going to build up the capital when you start trading in earnest? If some employees have left or were stood down and won’t come back, how do you plug any gaps?
It’s important to consider what you are equipped to do as you move out of shut down, and what you are not.
Then, you can make realistic plans about how you can move into full trading.
These plans might include rehiring or outsourcing. They may include changing suppliers or different ways of service delivery. It’s time to cut the cloth to fit your circumstances.
The third thing to do right now as you look to full trading is to keep reaching out to customers and employees.
If you have stood people down or let go your casual team, you should have continued to nurture those relationships (see my last two week’s blog posts). Now is the time to contact them with plans about when to come back and what they can do.
You should have been staying in contact with customers. Equally, now is the time to reach out fully and start inviting them back.
The fourth item to consider is whether “full trading” today will be like it was. In most cases, you will have lost some productivity or market share.
This means that you need to recognise this lower level of activity and plan accordingly. Maybe you can’t bring everyone back to work at once. How do you stage it?
Maybe you need to mothball some equipment for a few months. How do you do that?
Finally, the fifth issue for consideration is any change to core business that you might want to continue.
During shut down, you may have pivoted your business. How much of that change – to core business, to processes, to methods and procedures, do you want to keep? Some of them, borne of necessity, may have actually been for the best!
So, as you look ahead more optimistically, don’t be caught unprepared:-
- Stay healthy;
- Gather the resources you need around you;
- Keep reaching out to employees and customers;
- Plan for decreased productivity; and
- Decide what changes you want to keep.