“Whether it's looking at your supply chain or communicating clearly with your customers, small businesses need to start taking steps now to manage Covid-19 uncertainty,” says Westpac Head of Commercial & Agribusiness, Mark Steed.
Regardless of which sector your small business falls under, Covid-19 is impacting the whole economy.
“It’s difficult because no one has certainty around the time frame of how long this will last,” Steed says.
REDnews has put together a list of tips to help in times of uncertainty:
- Look at your supply chain: Obviously different parts of the world are at different stages with the effect of the virus, but it is prudent to consider what to do if there is a supply interruption. Are there alternative suppliers located elsewhere that you should contact now to start dialogue? Can you order greater quantities to get through potential shortages? Similarly, what potential threats are there to suppliers of services to you and how can these be mitigated?
- Cash flow: Having solid cash flow projections is good business hygiene regardless of the current pandemic. However, it is worth creating several projections with different levels of impact so that you are clear about actions you may need to take depending upon circumstances. Have conversations with your bank manager now. In a worst-case scenario, everyone will be scrambling and being pre-prepared will be a huge advantage. It will also help you sleep better.
- Expenses: Businesses need to look line by line at their expenses and see what they actually need – maybe advertising is not needed at the moment. You can talk to your landlord for rent relief, because the landlord might be able to help. From a debt point of view – look at relief on loan payments. Talk to your bank early about support and be aware of Government support available.
- Insurance: It is time to pull out the policies and see what is covered in regard to business interruption. Force majeure clauses may be triggered and so some legal advice may be required.
- Customers & clients: Proactive communication is key when uncertainty abounds. Make sure your customers know how much you value them. Losing customers unnecessarily is vital so get on the front foot.
- Sales & marketing: Get on the front foot here too, every lead should be cherished. Who is driving revenue in your business? Get them focused and out there connecting with customers and prospects.
- Your team: Prepare to work remotely where possible. Some, or all, of your team may have to work remotely, are you prepared? Team members may live in an area that gets quarantined or may only be slightly sick, so review your policies and check your IT system security so that people can work away from the office.
- Key personnel: Is there anyone in the team that is the only person that knows how to perform a key function? If so, start an immediate knowledge transfer program to mitigate that risk.
- Communication: Communicate with your team and ensure that they are educated. People get information and news from a huge variety of sources these days and not all of them are reliable. As the leaders in your business, you should communicate what you are doing to keep them safe. This includes increasing the focus on all aspects of keeping the workplace bug free. Remember also that there is a mental component to this in that some people will be worried about other vulnerable friends and family possibly living elsewhere in the world, and so may need some extra support.