A look at options for small businesses to operate remotely and survive the pandemic.

Just a few months ago, all was right with the world. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the coronavirus reared its ugly head and changed things for the unforeseeable future. Businesses everywhere have been forced to close their doors or rearrange their operations in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. While this impacted businesses within several industries, it would seem that small businesses are taking the brunt of the impact.

From mom and pop restaurants to small retail shops, businesses across the country are finding the coronavirus outbreak a difficult challenge to overcome. With consumers being asked to stay home, sales have declined and in extreme cases, come to a halt. This has caused small business owners to lay off and fire employees and reevaluate their operations. Though the light at the end of the tunnel is yet to be seen, entrepreneurs can make effective changes to try and withstand the storm.

Sell Products and Services Online

Brick and mortar businesses would be wise to transition to the world wide web to try and make up for the decline in sales. Whether you sell bridal shower gifts, trendy fashions for women, men, and children, or offer tax and accounting services, creating an eCommerce site would allow you to market your products and services to your target audience while they remain safe in their homes.

Develop a Remote Workforce

It may be in the best interest of your employees and their families that you send them home to remain safe from the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean your business can’t still operate. There are plenty of online tools and platforms that small businesses can utilize to create a remote workforce. Downloading project management, customer service, and file sharing software allows teams to collaborate on company tasks. Time-tracking, online chat platforms, and digital payroll solutions make it possible for business owners to manage their teams and also ensure they’re paid for their efforts.

Search for Local Vendors

As restrictions on manufacturing and exporting in heavily impacted areas like China continue to be implemented, small businesses have had a difficult time with supply and demand. Many shipments have been delayed for weeks at a time making it challenging to meet the demands of their customers. To try and rectify this matter, small business owners might consider searching for local vendors or vendors that are in areas that are less impacted by the coronavirus. This can decrease wait times for inventory and consumer shipments.

Apply for Aid

Though it took some time for the stimulus relief package to be implemented, the government has secured trillions of dollars to support those most impacted by the coronavirus. This largely includes small businesses. If you’re in need of financial relief, now would be the time to apply for assistance. The sooner you do, the sooner you can pay employees, order inventory, and cover operational costs during this transition.

Sanitize Your Facilities (And Safeguard Your Customers)

For essential businesses like restaurants, convenience stores, and grocery stores, creating a safe and healthy environment for both your employees and customers is of extreme importance. Hire a cleaning service to clean and sanitize your facilities (several times a day if possible). You should also invest in solutions like hand sanitizers, wipes, gloves, and masks for your employees. Clearly post instructions for customers entering your establishment such as how to slow the spread of the virus and social distancing requirements.

Restructure Company Processes

Another suggestion when reevaluating your business during the coronavirus outbreak would be to restructure your company processes to make things safer for everyone. For example, grocery stores could have employees do the shopping for customers and deliver it to their homes or have customers come and pick up their orders to reduce in-store traffic. Mom and pop restaurants should look into food delivery providers to transport food orders to customers instead of having them come out of their homes. Service providers working from home might offer remote assistance to clients using digital solutions to complete tasks.

No one knows for sure how long the coronavirus will impact the world. Nor do they know the true financial impact it will have on the global economy. For small businesses impacted by this pandemic, however, creating an efficient contingency plan can help your company adapt to the transition much smoother.