Prepare Your Small Business for the Lasting Effects of COVID-19

Is your small business fully prepared to combat the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic? Ensure you remain on the road to recovery and success by following these suggestions.

It’s the goal of us here at the Elmore County Economic Development Authority to aid our county’s local businesses in navigating the ongoing and ever-evolving impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. We understand that small business owners in our local towns and communities have had to drastically steer various (and unforeseen) disruptions in their businesses this year. Not only have businesses had to close or navigate solely to online commerce, business owners have also had to prepare and cater to their customers’ and employees’ health and safety.

Though we know that things WILL get better – and businesses, various industries, and the economy WILL recover from this pandemic – we also understand that we will all be dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic at least for the near foreseeable future. Small businesses throughout Elmore County and beyond must prepare for these lasting effects in order to keep their businesses running and succeeding.

As we move forward in the weeks ahead, ECEDA and our partners will continue to assist our local small businesses in interpreting the provisions of the coronavirus pandemic any new orders and ordinances released, so that Elmore County businesses can operate in a compliant manner. Following, we explore how you can best prepare your business for long-term success by preparing for the lasting effects of COVID-19.

Stay Informed on the Current State of Your Community

Circumstances are changing by the day. The virus has infected citizens in all 50 states, and new cases continue to emerge and fluctuate every day. However, the severity of COVID-19’s impact is rather dependent on where you’re located.

Stay in frequent contact with state and local officials who will be issuing updated guidance for your community. Keep up to date with the latest resources and guidance published by us at ECEDA that will inform you of everything you need to know regarding your business’ location and any new policy recommendations affecting your area.

Develop a Contingency Plan

Prepare a business continuity plan that reviews cases of significant absenteeism, supply chain disruptions or changes in the way business might need to be conducted. We recommend that this plan include an emergency communications plan that identifies key contacts, a direct chain of communication (including suppliers and customers), and processes for tracking and communicating business and employee statuses.

Be sure to share your plans with employees and clearly communicate (and then re-communicate) expectations. It is important to let employees know plans and expectations, especially during a time when multiple geographic regions are experiencing another round of spikes in new virus cases.

Implement a Long-Term Teleworking Policy

The pandemic has opened many businesses up to the idea that work CAN be successfully carried out on a remote basis. With virtually all U.S. states practicing social distancing, many have been able to implement successful teleworking policies if and when possible that allow their business to continue operating without having to have all employees and stakeholders physically present in the same space, office or storefront.

Determine an ongoing teleworking policy that works for your business, whether that means rotating on-site staff or designating the duties that can be carried out remotely. It’s also a good idea to cancel all work-related events and meetings or to transition them to a virtual platform like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangout. All non-essential travel should continue to be halted and monitored as well.

If working remotely isn’t an option for your business, we want to reiterate that you should try staggering shifts at your workplace. This will help minimize contact among your employees.

Protect Everyone’s Health

The CDC has issued an entire guide on protecting your small business and its employees throughout COVID-19. Healthy Employees are crucial to the survival of your business. Following are the CDC’s top tips for protecting the health and wellbeing of your employees and, in turn, your business.

  • Encourage sick employees to stay home. Develop policies that encourage sick employees to stay at home without fear of reprisal or resignation, and ensure that such policies are communicated to all parties.
  • Promote etiquette for coughing, sneezing and handwashing. Provide tissues, masks, gloves, no-touch trash cans, soap and water and hand sanitizer throughout the open spaces of your business.
  • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces, such as workstations, countertops, handrails and doorknobs.
  • Provide education and training materials for best business practices to all employees.
  • Have conversations with employees about their concerns and work to accommodate everyone in a fair and justifiable way.
  • implement practices to minimize face-to-face contact between employees that abide by the recommended social distancing practices.

Advocate for Secure Liquidity

One of the key challenges for small businesses is maintaining access to cash during such a time. Running any business is a risky endeavor; however, small businesses are particularly vulnerable in this day and age. Overhead costs like rent, payroll, and utilities leave very little liquid cash to owners. Add to that the lack of revenue from slowing services and newly required benefits stemming from the pandemic, and the outlook isn’t necessarily optimistic.

In order to combat such a challenge, small business owners should continue to advocate for efforts to provide immediate liquidity and keep businesses solvent.

Engage with Policymakers

Our voices are crucial in this moment of crisis, and the small businesses of Elmore County and beyond cannot leave big business to speak for them when it comes to emergency stimulus or any economic policy that impacts us.

This can be done at the individual level or in partnership with other businesses in the community; the mediums for engagement are endless. Social media, letters, email, phone calls are all effective ways to engage and advocate for the survival of small businesses with policymakers. The method is less important than the message, and the message is this: small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and economy; we need relief in the midst of this crisis.

Here For You

As we mentioned before, is the goal of the ECEDA and our partners to help Elmore County businesses reopen successfully. We want to encourage our businesses to consider what they may need to do in order to safely reopen their business to protect their employees and customers for the lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

We hope these insights have provided you some surety. For more information, you can access many more insights, suggestions and local resources on the ECEDA website.