Ways to Adapt Your Small Business During COVID-19
Apr 30, 2020
The outbreak of COVID-19 and the necessity to practice physical distancing has created a completely new and uncertain landscape for small and medium business owners - as many have had to temporarily close their doors. Across Canada, business owners have been forced to find creative, new ways to continue making a profit and adapt to the situation at hand. Thankfully, with the help of technology and the Internet, there are still many ways to continue safely selling goods or providing a service during COVID-19. Here are some ways to adapt your small business during COVID-19 if you are considered non-essential; these tips can also be useful for essential businesses that haven't fully transitioned to this new normal:
First and foremost, be sure your employees are well prepared and safe. If working from home is not an option:
- Let employees know what safety procedures are being introduced to keep them safe. Put these procedures in writing; if possible, clearly display them throughout the workplace. You can even check out more safety tips for your business during COVID-19.
- Be sure to keep an open dialogue on suggestions or concerns your employees may have. Check in on their comfort levels for the tasks involved in doing their job. Are they comfortable with coming into work? Are they comfortable with possibly making deliveries? And so on.
- Find ways to be adaptable and flexible with your employees' needs and their situations. Even if they are healthy, they may go home to others who are vulnerable to COVID-19.
If you're a non-essential business, you may be able to adapt and transition your operations to remain open - and even help out your community at the same time! Be sure to reach out to your insurance broker, so they can continue your insurance coverage seamlessly and to ensure that you don't run into issues if a claim does arise.
-You may be able to manufacture protective or medical equipment which are severely needed by the health and medical workers helping us fight COVID-19 on the front-lines. For example, some micro-distilleries and breweries have transitioned to producing hand sanitizer.
-You could also consider expanding the products you offer. For example, some breweries have added bread, wine and other foods to their delivery menu. You can even consider selling your supplies to customers as some restaurants have done by offering fresh produce, meats and other unprepared food along with their regular delivery/take-out menu.
-You could transition from retail to e-commerce.
Making that digital transition may sound like a daunting task but there are many resources, services and tools available to help even the most technologically-challenged. Companies like Shopify and Squarespace have simplified the process of creating an online store from scratch or adding a an e-commerce system to your current website. Along with providing an easy to use interface for setting this up, they also have a library of tutorial videos available.
You can even consider something as simple as a subscription box in your local area - allowing you to keep costs low and handle the deliveries yourself - for flexibility on the products included and recurring revenue due to the subscription model.
You can also take advantage of Google, Amazon and Social Media to advertise your business across multiple platforms to drive traffic to your products. You could even list your products as a third party seller with Amazon, Walmart, e-Bay and others to go where the shoppers are already at.
If you currently offer in-person classes, go digital. Live-streaming is easier than ever; you can offer tutorials for arts-and-crafts, cooking, pottery, yoga, personal training, etc. online for a fee. This can be done by using private links to share with your customers or with services like Patreon.
-Transition to curb side/to-go pickup orders & deliveries
If your business can be open, you may have to find ways to serve your customers without them congregating in your store. Obviously, your website is the first place customers will go, but what if you're part of a franchise and have limitations to your web offering? Or what if you have no web presence and don't have time to build one?
You can take advantage of your cellphone! It may be wise to sign up for a social media service, if you don't have a website, so you can easily post photos of your menu or catalog. This way customers can easily plan ahead before calling in. If social media isn't your thing, something as simple as a Google Document will you allow to post your menu online so your customers can see it.
Most insurance companies are allowing for deliveries at the moment. You should check with your broker to see if you may be able to use your vehicle to include this value-add. This way you don't have to worry about losing a big chunk of revenue to a delivery service or paying another driver.
During this outbreak of COVID-19, it is wise to stay up to date on government relief funds and benefits. You can also contact your bank and discuss a Canada Emergency Business Account.
We hope that these ways to adapt your small business during COVID-19 has provided some useful tips or even sparked some inspiration to keep your business afloat during this difficult time. If you have other safety tips or ways to adapt as a business, feel free to share them in the comments. If you're a small business, we're happy to share our social platform with you and promote your local business too.
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