Staying afloat during a challenging time is thought for any small business. And when that challenge is a constantly changing global pandemic, it’s even harder. How can you keep moving forward, or even grow your business? You’ll need to take stock of your business strategic plan.
Here’s how you can audit your current business strategic plan and adjust to whatever the “new normal” may be going forward.
By using these six steps, you can start putting short-, mid-, and longer-term plans in place. Use this framework to come through any challenge stronger than ever.
Step 1: Be better prepared
What have you learned from your current challenge that you can apply to similar challenges in the future? As related to COVID, you likely have a plan in place for how to meet any new safety requirements as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees and customers.
Still, it’s important to think further down the line as much as possible. For example, supply chain shortages have been common during the COVID-19 pandemic. How will your business address a potential shortage in the future?
For pandemic-related planning, be sure to stock up on PPE, hand sanitizer, and anything else that makes your place of business both compliant and comfortable.
- Provide sufficient PPE to your employees and be sure to have extra masks and hand sanitizer available for visitors and guests.
- Talk to your customers to find out what concerns are keeping them from visiting your business. If they’re worried about their safety, there are steps you can take to ease their concerns. It may be as simple as adding plexiglass to customer-service areas, requiring masks indoors or mapping out socially distant waiting areas.
Step 2: Focus your operations while exploring new opportunities
One of the best ways to manage cash flow is to streamline your operations and build efficiencies into your business strategic plan. If it’s been a while since you’ve really looked at the return on investment for every item you stock or every ad you take out, now is the time to do that.
Help your employees feel valued and secure by inviting them to brainstorm new opportunities and responsibilities with you. Ask for their ideas and get their feedback on potential opportunities aimed to support their growth. This could include learning new skills that can increase online reach, providing a better customer experience, or identifying new revenue streams.
“As we come out of the health crisis, I’d like to build our partnerships with companies who want to expand their employee pools, but whose reach has been limited by employee-transportation issues. We’re looking at high unemployment right now, and I’d like to help people who don’t have a way to get to their jobs.”
Trent Griffin-Braaf, Owner, Tech Valley Hospitality Shuttle
Step 3: Ensure you always have sufficient funds on hand
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the leading factor that helped ease financial stress was having sufficient cash on-hand. If your business already had working capital in place before the pandemic, then you were likely more prepared for opportunities that arose. In other cases, businesses put plans — such as buying new equipment or expanding — on hold to redirect funds to more immediate needs.
Whatever the case, businesses that had enough cash on-hand were better able to respond to new opportunities.
To ensure that you have enough working capital, start by looking at your financials. If your resources are tapped out or if you’ve struggled all the way through, now’s the time to research available working capital funding options. And even if you don’t currently need a loan or line of credit, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your business is positioned for stability and growth.
“I believe that owners should always look for ways to fund their businesses because we need to grow, create and stay ahead of our competitors. It’s not enough to think about funding just when things are tight. You have to consider the opportunities that you can take advantage of and whether you have the funds to do it.”
Catherine Hover, Owner, Saratoga Paint & Sip
Step 4: Improve your marketing plan and website capacity
When the pandemic shut down many brick-and-mortar locations, businesses had to use e-commerce strategies. Now’s the time to review and strengthen your digital marketing plans, update your website (make sure it’s mobile-friendly) and master online sales and service.
- Consider how you’ve attracted clients in the past and how this may need to change, then develop a marketing plan that includes digital resources.
- While many e-commerce platforms make it easier to develop a website and online shop, consider having a pro run through the site before you launch or expand. This upfront investment can save you considerable time, money, and headaches down the line.
Step 5: Prepare now for your busiest season
As the business climate changes with any major challenge, including the pandemic, consider how it might impact some of your busiest season. For example, if the holiday season is your busiest season and it’s impacted by a challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ll need to get creative. How can you solve client’s problems, lift spirits and build loyalty?
See if you can develop ways to combine the best aspects of your business online. And be sure to order sufficient inventory for top-selling items, if that’s relevant to your business, just in case supply chain disruptions emerge.
Other things to consider to strengthen your business:
- Look for ways that your business can partner with other local businesses and build support for each other. For example, a home-goods store can partner with a local skincare specialty shop on special gift bags that can be delivered.
- Consider whether there are ways to improve your delivery and curbside pickup services to make them convenient and safe for clients while building efficiencies for your business.
“Overnight, we had to rethink our business plans and marketing strategies and quickly hustle to reach new customers. But it worked, for us and for many others, and now we’re busier than ever. It’s hard to keep up with demand!”
Marge Randles, Co-Owner, Argyle Cheese Farmer
Step 6: Review your insurance
Do you know what your insurance policy actually covers? Many business owners were surprised and disappointed to learn that their business insurance didn’t cover losses related to the pandemic.
Take the time now to contact your representative to ensure that you know what is covered and what isn’t – whether for a pandemic, another type of natural disaster or any other event that could force closure and loss of revenue.
Contact Pursuit: We can help with your business strategic plan, now and for the future
If you have questions about how to strengthen your business strategy, contact us today.
For more than 65 years, our team has provided business owners with the right resources to thrive and succeed. When you’re ready to build a strong foundation for your business, check out how our 15 loan programs and a range of additional support services can help.