As cases of COVID-19 continue rocket around the world, our society has changed drastically. I could hurl all the facts, figures and forecasts at you but I’ll likely be repeating information you’ve already heard. The world and life as we know it has ground to a halt. The social, medical and economic measure governments have introduced are unprecedented. From chatting to friends, family and neighbours all anyone can talk about is these “strange times”. It isn’t often that we’re so acutely aware that we’re living through history; something that future generations might be learning about in school in the dull year 7 history lessons of tomorrow.
We know it’s all too easy to worry about the uncertainties of the future but now is not the time to quote-pop new obsession Joe Exotic: “I am never going to financially recover from this.” This comprehensive guide is here to reassure and help you understand how coronavirus may affect your business and what you can do to help, well, yourself.
The increasing travel restrictions are not just cancelling our summer hols. They’re greatly disrupting supply chains, and causing delays in getting stocks to shelves. Anyone who has tried to pass the time with some lockdown baking will have noticed the barren flour shelves. Disruptions in the supply of paper bags to mills has significantly delayed retailers from selling flour, this demonstrates how small aspects of your supply chain could greatly affect your business. Our recommendation? Even if you are not currently facing disruptions, relax your stock management style slightly; have some extra stock on hand for a rainy day so that if things do slow then your business isn’t immediately thwarted.
Time of a little dash of seriousness. The biggest threat to businesses of all sizes is cash flow: the timing of money going into and out of the business in revenue and costs. It’s the reason 82% of businesses collapse. Now, more than ever cash flow becomes important for non-essential businesses. Non-essential business will be seeing limited or no revenue but there are still lots of bills to pay, this can create a dangerous, imbalanced cash flow. In order to stop this from damaging your business; cut out some costs. Many banks, building societies and landlords are offering mortgage and rent breaks. Even if you think you might not need it, take advantage of this! It won’t harm you and will take some pressure of by temporarily reducing your overheads. Additionally, the UK government has introduced the applauded ‘furlough’ scheme which will cover 80% of employee’s wages while the business remains closed, so your employees can get paid but the business doesn’t suffer.
In order to ride out the effects of coronavirus smoothly and successfully it’s crucial to adapt your business model. If you can quickly and cost-effectively alter your business operations, you are not only likely to survive but also potentially prosper compared to those that cannot. For instance, restaurants have set up or grown take away services. Clothing businesses have expanded their websites and put on huge sales and nightclubs have even introduced ‘virtual e-clubbing’ livestreams. Though you have to admit screaming ‘Wonderwall’ from our living rooms, tinny in hand, with our friends on Zoom is very different to the standard night out.
Indeed, the internet and social media can be a great help right now. More than ever people are connecting with each other and the world beyond their back gardens through social media. Great things have happened such as the claps for NHS and key workers; this shows how the word can spread quickly over the nation. So make sure you are part of this virtual web. That doesn’t mean mastering the renegade dance and becoming TikTok famous. Just reach out, let people know what you’re doing during lockdown.
Be it tweaking new recipes or designs, volunteering, or preparing for a grand reopening: post about it, let people know, make people care. Nano-influencers are a great way of getting word out about your business on social media. Nano-influencers are smaller personal instagram pages of under 5K followers; crucially this number is made up of friends and family who trust and value their opinion. So, when they rave about something online its noted and recognised rather than skipped past like the other ads we see everyday. Want more? 73% of people said they would be interested in a new business if their friends were talking about it rather than 49% if it was a celebrity. This is a big difference not only in the quality of your reach on social media but also in the cost.
The bottom line is: right now social media is the only way of letting people know what your business is up to and it’s the best way of keeping your (potential) customers engaged and aware of your brand. So take advantage of your free time and starting building your business on people’s social pages and therefore in people’s minds. A big question is; how long will this go on for? The answer is crucial in really knowing how COVID-19 will affect your business. The coronavirus pandemic and the government’s national lockdown is pretty much unprecedented. So, as challenging as it is to accept; there is a fair degree of uncertainty. There are many tax breaks and council grants that aim to limit the effects of corona virus on your business so hopefully you won’t suffer in this period. But importantly there are things you can do to better your business. By boosting its profile on social media through strategies such as UniTaskr’s SHOUT marketing your business can come out of the lockdown gates raring to go. As for right now: stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.