Here’s how to ensure your business survives the COVID-19 pandemic

Are you beginning to fire back the engines of your business after being down for the count? Right now, businesses are desperately trying to keep the economy afloat and avoid another recession. 

The UK is pouring billions into the economy in the hope of avoiding the worst outcome of the health pandemic. You might think that the greatest struggles of the pandemic are far behind us but experts are anxiously warning this may not be the case. 

The threat of a second wave is constantly looming and the US economy is predicted to shrink as much as 6.5% this year. The government already has steps in place to avoid disaster including plans to keep interest rates at close to zero for the rest of 2020. But will it be enough?

Trethowans
Trethowans

Ultimately businesses that want to stay afloat will need to take their own measures. They will need to adapt and evolve their model to ensure that they are in the right position to perform. So, what steps should you be exploring here? 

Increase flexibility 

The world is changing quickly these days and businesses must be ready to respond to new challenges. 

There was little to no warning when countries went into lockdown. Instead, in a matter of weeks after the outbreak began, companies were forced to shut their doors for an unspecified period. Some businesses, such as Primark, fared far worse than others. 

Primark is a brand largely based in the UK and focused on providing budget-friendly, stylish clothing. The head of the company famously reported that the business made zero sales throughout the lockdown. Why was this? The company has absolutely no online platform for selling their products!. With highstreets shut down, they had no hope of making any money. 

Other companies were far more flexible. Many quickly adapted to a home run model. To do this, companies began to rely more on technology. In the UAE demand for video communications like Zoom increased 900%.

Companies are clearly focusing on keeping connected to employees who are working remotely or from home. Despite the end of the lockdown, some companies are maintaining their work from home model.

Twitter has already announced that its employees will be able to keep working from home indefinitely. This was in response to workers being terrified about contracting the virus in a major office. Indeed, the head of Barclays has already suggested that we will see the end of major offices. 

So, how can you make your business more flexible? Consider if your company is suited for a home company model. If your company mainly operates online, it could be perfect for this type of set up. You will need to invest in the right resources. 

A shared platform will guarantee that you can share projects in real-time. You can keep everyone on the same page and update your clients as well. It’s one of the smoothest ways to manage your home business. You will also need the right set up so that users can interact and connect on multiple levels. 

Cutting costs 

Ultimately, regardless of the action that governments take, the coronavirus likely will cause a global economic shift. This could be worse than the 2008 Wall Street crash. 

One of the best ways to prepare for a crash like this is to cut the costs in company models. You need to make sure that there is limited to no wastage in your business model. 

There are numerous options here. For instance, you can explore your data set up. If you migrate to AWS or take a similar step, you can benefit from a scalable solution and invest in data consolidation. This is always going to ensure that your data system runs at a more efficient level. 

You might also want to consider your workforce. Wage slips are likely one of the greatest costs in your business. Now is not the time to have workers on team that you don’t need or who are not providing the right benefits for your business. 

We’ve already spoken about automation on this site before. Automation, allows you to remove human processes in your company and replace them with software or equipment. Ultimately, it means that businesses can run effectively with a reduced workforce.

One example of this would be invoice management. Rather than hiring an accountant, invoices can now be filled in and sent out automatically with a simple and affordable piece of software. 

Or, you could consider using freelancers in your business. Freelance workers are beneficial because they do not have permanent contracts. This means that you can take them on and let them go whenever you need them.

It’s highly cost-effective because you have limited to no responsibilities for these employees. The gig economy is growing at a rapid pace for this reason. Businesses are shifting towards hiring teams that are not a permanent part of the company model. 

Know your responsibilities 

As a business owner, you always have a clear responsibility to keep your company safe for both team members as well as your customers. For instance, if you are running a brick and mortar company, you might appoint a health and safety officer. They will check for potential hazards and ensure that issues are corrected if or when they develop. 

If you are running an office, you may need to consider the threat of RSI. Repetitive Strain Injury is the most common type of injury complaint that occurs in American offices today. It is caused by typing for long periods without breaks and with the wrong posture. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that workers are getting the breaks they need. You should also consider investing in ergonomic furniture. This will reduce the potential or RSI developing overtime. 

In terms of the coronavirus, there are fresh considerations about how to keep a business environment safe.

Social distancing will be key here. It is important to ensure that your office is not crowded and contact is greatly reduced. This will likely be necessary until a vaccine is readily available.

Be prepared for regulations and standards to change rapidly in the wake of this pandemic. For instance, there has already been a reduction in required social distancing from one metre to two metres in some countries.

Hiring a legal advisor can help ensure that you don’t run into challenges here. The last thing you want is for your business to be hit with a massive fine. 

Reposition your brand 

Some businesses are going to be hit harder than others over the next few months. Businesses selling luxury products are likely to see a massive drop in demand and this is just one example.

Customers almost immediately stop buying luxuries when they feel the economic strain. That’s why you need to think about rebranding your business and approaching the market in a different way. You need to make sure that you are positioning your products or services as a want rather than a need. 

It might be worth exploring the psychology of why people buy to do this and how the pandemic has impacted the way people think. For instance, demand for wellness products is expected to surge in popularity through 2021.

If the opportunity is there, it could be worth exploring how your business can become a part of the wellness industry. 

It’s clear then that businesses are going to face a lot of challenges in the months and years ahead. Some of the hurdles are unprecedented and will require both innovative thinking as well as careful planning. Is your business up to the task? 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio