‘It’s almost always possible to be honest and positive.’ -Naval Ravikant
Business owners all over are suffering the recourse of the current national shutdown now more than ever.
It is truly a dire situation for many. Especially, the retail and hospitality industries. In a normal economy, I would say it is the 3D’s that owners and CRE property owners would be keeping an eye for—debt, death, and divorce.
Those three things are like the grim reaper for a business. With COVID-19, most small businesses have hardly a month’s worth of cash reserves built up to muscle through this time.
Many small businesses have not received any federal lifelines in the form of low-interest loans that were to be available as part of the relief package created by Congress. It has been a battle royale to see who and what businesses can survive.
If you are hanging on by a thread or if you have exhausted all other options, below is a check list of way you can survive during this time of downturn:
Start exhausting all options. “Being nimble and flexible” or “Adapt or die” are phrases we are hearing a lot of right now. They really do not help whatsoever and they sound too cliche to even really take seriously. So, let’s focus on some real options. If you have not reached out to your personal banker with your bank, give them a call. Yes, the wheels of Uncle Sam may turn slow, but small businesses are starting to receive deposits from EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan) applications. But, what they don’t tell you is, don’t stop there. Just because you do not have a relationship at one bank and were not approved does not mean you cannot call around elsewhere and speak to their bankers about applying for assistance. There are dozens of banks that are accepting all customers, not just existing clients.
Using technology to connect with your customers and your clients. If you are a store owner, this is something that is being seen often now. Retail is not excluded from the technological advances of today. Proactively reach out to your top customers over video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Skype. If your business primarily depends on face-to-face interaction, use the resources you already have available; your talent and materials. They are invaluable.
If you have a physical retail store, offer to do a FaceTime or Facebook live event to let customers look at products. If you do not currently offer any service or product on your website now, or do not even have a website (yes there are some out there) now is the time to consider pivoting to e-commerce. With that being said, Shopify is hands down going to be your best bet on platforms. It is user friendly and built to better equip the stores out there who have a lot of inventory.
Use this time to study your biggest competitors. Learn from their strengths and weaknesses. Be vocal. Talk with your loyal customers and learn what their needs are given the uncertain environment right now and then consider how you can meet them.
Make sure you are not overspending, but also not cutting costs in areas that are of value, and where revenue is being generated still (that goes for my e-commerce owners out there).
Getting a temperature on your business is always a key to success, but more so now than ever. It is often the ‘common sense’ practices like knowing your store’s numbers and KPI’s that are also the easiest to fall behind on and lose track of.
Don’t let your business be a runaway train if you are unable to face the anxiety of looking at the accounting that you have let fall behind, take it piece-by-piece, one step at a time. It is critical to stay on top of these simpler things so that when more complex problems arise you are not wasting energy on the basics.