In Canada, there are many business owners stuck at home having been forced to shut down their business or wind down operations while the COVID-19 outbreak is being managed. Some may be worrying about how they will be able to pay rent when the first of the month comes. Other business owners may be worrying about the effect of their crisis on their suppliers and whether their supply chain will remain intact after it’s all said and done. The range of worrisome thoughts is endless during tough times and the significant negativity around the economy does not help lift spirits.
However, as a business owner you are responsible for calling the shots. When things go well, or when things go wrong, it is the business owner that must act. Some of us may choose to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass, and others may choose to find new revenue streams and pivot their business. One thing is for certain, we all need a plan for when things start returning to normal.
Creating a recovery plan for your business is the most vital thing you should be doing right now after obtaining government funding to keep your business afloat for the time being.
Understanding where the opportunities are, where the risks are, and what it all means for you and your team will be the difference maker when the foot traffic in the city goes back to normal.
It all begs the question, what should business owners be thinking about for when things begin to return to “normal”?
If you haven’t already, it is very likely that you will have to renegotiate contracts with suppliers and contractors that your business regularly relies on. The rules of the game have changed and the demand for your business may not be the same as pre-COVID levels. Some businesses may experience a sharp drop in demand when they start opening back up, while others may even experience a sharp uptick in demand. However one thing we can say for certain is that things will not be the same.
Whether the demand for your product or service goes up or down, you will likely have to take another look at the contracts you had laid out in the past in order to account for the severe change in economic climate that we are all experiencing.
When the crisis hit, and through the weeks and months that followed, your business may have had to layoff or furlough employees. Business owners have to make tough decisions during economic downturns which may include deciding which employees to keep and which employees to let go.
It may be that your business had to layoff a considerable portion of the team because the crisis forced the business to go into survival mode and that meant cutting out any expense that’s not immediately necessary.
However when things start to look up and the markets begin returning to normal, your business will likely need the extra set of hands on deck that it had before COVID and that means a flurry of re-hiring. The important thing to note is that you will not be the only business re-hiring. The competition in the job market may be tougher than usual and some of your previous employees may have gone on to find other jobs at different companies.This is why it is important to have a sense of how you will begin your rehiring efforts when the storm passes.
There’s no right or wrong way to go about it but what will help is staying in touch with your previous employees that were let go and to be ready to spring into action once the economy returns to normal.
Planning for the Upswing
Perhaps the most important part of your recovery plan is realizing that things will at some point return to normal. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow but some time in the future when people aren’t forced to quarantine themselves, consumers will start returning to their normal patterns. That being said, things will certainly be different depending on your industry.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar store without an online shop you may start lagging behind. Consumers right now are shopping online more than ever. When the crisis subsides, consumers will be generally more susceptible to online eCommerce stores and less accustomed to brick-and-mortar stores. This means that online stores will be siphoning more traffic away from physical location shops than prior to the COVID crisis. If you’re planning for the upswing, you should take a look at your online strategy and how it can position you to be the leading store in your category.
If you’re an accounting firm, you may have noticed that the firms that focus on cloud accounting have had an easier time than the traditional legacy based firms. Perhaps this also has something to do with cloud accounting firms attracting more tech-savvy clients who have been less impacted which would result in a compounding effect. If you’re planning for the upswing, you should strategize around the technology you use in your firm and how it can position your brand to be at the top.
To sum it all up, take a look at your industry and notice which companies have fared the worst and which companies have fared the best. It is likely that those companies that have been less impacted were more future-proof all along, and it simply took a crisis of this magnitude to speed up their success relative to others who are suffering.
Think about how your company might become future-proof as well and how to capitalize on the new normal that is being established for consumers.
Above all, as a business owner during a severe economic downturn you must be proactive. The primary factor that will decide how well you do relative to the current environment is you and your team.
If you find a community like the Canadian Small Business Slack Group, join it and stay informed.
If you hear of a new Government program that is relevant to you, apply for it as soon as possible.
If you have some free time in your day, use it to brainstorm how you can recover when the upswing starts.
The name of the game is be proactive, stay focused and don’t give up. As business owners, we knew the journey would be tough and this is certainly a heavy obstacle in everyone’s way. However, thinking positive and taking action is more than a bandaid, it is the solution to getting back on our feet as a country and as small business owners.