Small businesses are facing an unprecedented economic disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, it’s essential for small businesses to find ways to evolve and survive, forcing many to adapt to remote work and expand their online presence rapidly. This rapid change can lead small business owners to feel overwhelmed and under-supported.
Here are some of the top challenges your small business might face, and how you can overcome them.
Challenge #1: Access to Capital
One of the main challenges for small businesses right now is gaining access to capital. Capital is what companies need to keep supply lines open and pay their employees. Unfortunately, this pandemic has caused a financial strain for small businesses, making it hard to maintain payroll, inventory, and keep up with market demand.
Fortunately, the Small Business Administration has compiled a list of resources for small businesses to help them explore their capital access options, meaning your business will have what you need when you need it. Additionally, several large tech companies are stepping up to the plate providing grants to entrepreneurs and small businesses who are struggling during the pandemic.
To learn more about these relief resources, visit these pages from SBA:
- Coronavirus Funding Options
- Coronavirus Recovery Information in Languages other than English
- Guidance for Businesses and Employers
- Local Assistance
- Join the SBA’s Relief Efforts
- SBA Products and Resources
- Government Contracting
Challenge #2: Adapting Online
Let’s face it, in a time like this, your small business needs to go online. Unfortunately, with the number of social media platforms and eCommerce solutions on the internet today, it can be extremely overwhelming to decide what’s right for your business.
Don’t let that stop you from making the critical decision to do online business. Instead of trying to be everywhere, focus on the platforms and solutions that make sense for your business. Focusing on being present where your customers are will set you up to expand to other platforms later. So focus on setting that foundation first.
Right now, it’s critical to communicate openly with your customers about your business operations. Find which platforms your customers are using to reach them more effectively. Let your customers know what your business hours are, what protective measure you’re taking with your employees, and how they will be protected when they visit your business.
Challenge #3: Work-Life Balance
Another major challenge is finding a work-life balance and encouraging your employees to do the same. Nearly half of remote workers report feeling burned out trying to take care of business and household at the same time.
More reports are showing that remote workers are having a harder time turning work off at the end of the business day. Overextending yourself leads to burnout, and once you reach that state, you won’t be able to help anyone. Take an opportunity to get up from your computer for a few minutes every hour. This break gives your mind a chance to rest and your body a chance to stretch.
You can also be intentional by setting a block of time in your schedule for self-care—whether that be going for a walk or spending time with your family. The more you’re able to find inner peace, the better able you are to make decisions and lead your business. Encourage your employees to do the same!
It can also be challenging for you and your employees to stop “doom scrolling.” Doom scrolling is when a person scrolls through the news or social media to find the latest information about the pandemic. This may seem harmless, but it can harm your mental health. Continuously exposing yourself to upsetting news will only heighten anxiety. Make it a point to check for updates regularly, but as soon as you start feeling overwhelmed, take a break.
Challenge #4: Your Employees’ Futures
Even if your business remains open, your employees might experience financial hardships, including reduced hours and cut in pay. To avoid hurting your employees’ financial future, take the time to examine your policies for sick leave, vacation, telework, and employee pay.
Here are some tips from the CDC:
- Leave policies should be flexible and non-punitive. They should also account for employees who need to stay home with their children if there is a school or childcare closure, or to care for sick family members.
- When possible, use flexible worksites (e.g., telework) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts) to help establish policies and practices for social distancing.
- Share information on steps your employees can take to protect themselves at work and home.
- Explore ways you can continue business operations if there are disruptions.
- Prepare business continuity plans.
- Establish an emergency communications plan.
- Share your response plans with employees and communicate expectations.
The key here is to advise employees to stay home if they are sick, maintain social distancing guidelines when at work, encourage proper sanitation, and ensure that they understand your expectations of these procedures. The steps you take to protect your employees also impact your customers, so it’s critical to ensure they have everything they need to fulfill their duties while protected.
Challenge #5: Remaining Optimistic in the Face of Adversity
We’re all experiencing a lot of intense emotions during this pandemic, and small business owners are no exception. To make matters worse, there’s an additional level of stress as they try to do best by their employees and customers.
Despite this, businesses are hopeful for the future. 57% of small businesses report that they’re optimistic about the future of their business despite COVID-19!
This positive outlook is incredible, but small businesses could still use your support. So, what can you do to help other small businesses?
- Buy gift cards
- Take virtual classes
- Shop online