Aggressively pursue loans, grants and investments.
Work with your bank and investors, but don’t forget other sources. Hedge funds, private equity firms and big investors have hundreds of billions of dollars sitting in reserve. However, anticipate that the cost of capital and availability of private loans may pose more challenges as a result of this global shift.
Take health precautions seriously.
Be obsessive about hygiene, health, and safety.
Ensure social distancing at the office, especially for those who are at the greatest risk for contracting the virus.
Have masks, gloves, hand sanitizers, and antibacterial wipes in your common area and near employee desks.
Follow the health and safety tips from the CDC.
Appoint a member of your team to help communicate these guidelines and ensure all individuals are following them.
Proactively communicate your health and safety measures to the general public (on your website, via email, and on social media). Consider doing ‘more than the minimum required’ as many customers and consumers will be weary, even if they don’t communicate it.
Allow sick employees to stay home.
Previously – especially in the United States – there has been a ‘hero’ mentality about working while sick. This will likely change post-coronavirus, especially since many employees have found success working remotely.
Employers should clearly communicate that anyone with symptoms should work from home (no questions asked and no doctor’s note required). According to the CDC, employees should stay home until they are free of any symptoms or fever for at least 24 hours. If working from home is not an option for your business (i.e. food service), be sure to implement appropriate cleaning procedures at your business location. Be clear with employees regarding your coronavirus policies and safety protocol.
Even if your employees are healthy, ask them to inform you if one of their family members is sick. You can refer to the CDC’s guidelines for appropriate risk assessment.
Enable remote work capabilities.
Until we are far past this pandemic, offer employees the option to continue working from home if they wish to (and require it for those who are not feeling well, as mentioned above). This pandemic may have a long-term impact for many people, so be mindful of different circumstances and understand employees may need more flexibility than in the past. Whether your entire team is still working remotely or just a few of them, here are recommendations on how to optimize their remote work environment:
Allow employees to expense materials/items that will enable efficiency and productivity (office supplies, a second monitor, etc)
Implement a policy that outlines when you expect your team to be online and available when working remotely, and standardize the preferred method of communication (email, Slack, Zoom, etc.). Be sure to still allow flexibility, depending on individual needs and circumstances.
Ensure that all weekly/regular in-person meetings remain on the calendar as video meetings if your team is not in the office. This will be necessary to ensure deadlines are still met.
Instruct employees to redirect calls to their office line to their cell phones.
Schedule a weekly team gathering via Zoom to boost morale.
Give employees more flexibility in general.
When offices, schools, daycares, businesses, and other commercial settings reopen, it won’t all happen at once. Employees may have unique circumstances (care for family members, nontraditional family needs, etc), which will require flexibility with their time and how they operate. Try to be as understanding as possible when something comes up and have a contingency plan in case you suddenly become short-staffed.
Reduce meetings and travel.
Minimize opportunities for exposure to the virus. Postpone team meetings or hold them virtually. Skip non-essential conferences or other business travel. If your workers get sick because of business travel or meetings, you could have a liability issue on your hands, in addition to managing low morale and increased sick leave requests.
Do realistic accounting.
Most businesses are suffering and need to make hard decisions. Try to form realistic estimates of your cash flow both during and after the pandemic. Compare this with your fixed expenses and determine what you can cut. Sometimes, it makes sense to cut the more flexible expenses early while you continue paying the more vital expenses.
Additionally, identify expenses that you can delay, such as rent (if eviction has been frozen), leverage public assistance and other ways of bridging the gap, and consider cutting office space if you can.
Stay informed on updates in your area.
We don’t yet know the full impact of the coronavirus in the United States, but the CDC has said that your risk varies based on your location. Therefore, each state, or even metro-area/county, will continue making decisions based on unique circumstances. Stay in frequent contact with state and local officials for updated guidance and policy recommendations affecting your community.
Communicate with your employees.
Even when your business resumes full operations and employees return to the office, it’s likely that employees will continue to have concerns about their health, their family’s health, and their job security. Listen to their concerns. Keep them informed on the state of your business and update them on any policy changes (in-person if you’re in the office, via email, your Intranet if you have one, or even a recorded video message to add a personal touch). Honest, frequent communication will help mitigate fear, prevent the spread of misinformation, and boost morale (your employees may also be able to help identify gaps in your coronavirus plan and make improvements). Importantly, always communicate with empathy.
Be smarter about your marketing.
Now is not the time to cancel your marketing, whether you’re a big company or a small company (or somewhere in between). Customer interactions with your brand and business transactions will continue to occur virtually. Therefore, without digital marketing, you’ll lose the most important part of your business: the customer relationship. Pivot your marketing strategy from overt lead generation tactics to providing value to prospects and customers during this difficult time and fostering community.
Communicate with your customers. If all or part of your business closed down due to the coronavirus, ensure your customers know when you’ve opened back up, and make them aware of the precautions you’re taking to protect them and your workers. Be more proactive about communicating your health and safety policies online and in-person.
Ensure your website is easy to use. Stay responsive via chatbots, email, and phone numbers. For B2B especially, enable interactivity, information-gathering, and invoice capabilities on your website. For B2C, make purchases, returns, and access to customer service as easy as possible for customers.
Continue to create content for your audience that brings them value and resonates with their pain points during this difficult time (i.e. blogs, white papers, infographics, etc). House this content in one place on your website.
Use email marketing to keep customers up-to-date on your business, distribute content, and maintain connections with current and prospective customers. Consider these dos and don’ts when communicating with them.
Optimize your website for SEO, because organic search rankings will be even more important as consumers rely heavily on the Internet to find what they need. More on how to analyze your SEO: “Keep Calm & Market On: 3 Marketing Tactics to Do During a Crisis.”
Adjust your selling strategy to accommodate remote work and social distancing.
Prioritize virtual contact with current and potential customers, and make sure they’re aware that even if your store is closed, you’re still available to service them. For B2B companies, consider account-based marketing, where you build relationships with multiple individuals at specific organizations.
Maximize the use of LinkedIn as a relationship building and selling tool. With over 260 million monthly active users, it has become the platform for value-added thought leadership. Sales teams that previously relied on in-person interactions will need to be retrained on virtual relationship-building.