This Is How COVID-19 Can Help a Small Business

I know you’re struggling to keep the lights on, pay your employees and just keep your head above water in these insane times.

And I wish you all the very best of luck and that each and everyone of you come out at the end of this deadly tunnel safe and still able to provide the services that we all need in our communities.

So what can you do now that the pause button has been pushed? How can you make the very best of a bad situation and prepare yourself when times get better (and they will)?

Unlike most of a small business leader’s life, you just may have some time available to work ON your business instead of constantly working IN your business 24X7.

You rarely have had the opportunity to look forward to make sure you’re on a path that will increase the likelihood of success because day-in and day-out you’re focusing on what you need to do TODAY to make ends meet.

Here are 5 things you might want to do with your new found bandwidth.

1. Work on the game plan for your business

Whenever I’ve asked a small business owner to work on their business strategy, I get “I don’t have time for that stuff. I’m too busy.” Well guess what? Now you have the time even though you might not think your business future is great.

Issues to consider in your strategic game plan review:

-Reset your growth goals. COVID has destroyed every small business revenue plan so it’s time to reset it. Develop a new 36-month revenue plan with a startup mentality. Think about your challenge as starting over again, because that’s what you’re doing.

-Question whether your customer base is still appropriate. After COVID, people will have changed — your previous customers included — and their buying habits have probably changed as well. You may decide to try and attract different customers than the ones you had prior to the pandemic.

-Reassess your competitive approach. Post-COVID, if you choose different customers to attract, you will probably have new competitors to contend with so you’ll probably need a new strategy to beat them.

2. Learn more about new technologies

COVID rules to respect social distancing requires enabling technology, and there are many that have have risen in popularity, some old and some new.

FaceTime, Skype have seen a resurgence in use and newer portals such as Houseparty and ZOOM have risen in popularity. Take the COVID break to learn about communications technology and how it can be used to engage with your customers, suppliers and partners.

The application of technology has the potential to build your competitive strength so use this time to learn as much as you can about the options available.

3. Research new potential suppliers

Again, when you consider going after different customers, you might have to consider modifying your products and services which, in turn, might require new sourcing.

Or even if you decide to stay with your current portfolio of customers and service offerings, you should probably brake the time to see if new suppliers might give you a better deal than your present ones.

Better margins should always be in your crosshairs so now you have a window to explore your options.

Take it.

4. Scout out some potential new employees

My view has always been that leaders need to be constantly on the lookout for new talent, and for small business it’s always a challenge to find the right people.

So take the “gift” COVID has given you and get out there and hunt. Hunt for great service people who will carry you reincarnated business to new levels and hunt for others who according to your revitalized game plan are critical to your success.

Get proactive and don’t wait for people to come to you. And poach them from other businesses if you have to.

5. Talk to your customers

Many news video clips these days show customers walking up to a small business establishment, trying to open the door and looking inside with yearning looks on their faces.

Why not take some of your time available and stand outside your closed door and (at the correct social distance away from them of course) talk to people who just might ask you something about your business?

It’s a hell of a way to not only establish a personal connection with people who are already leaning in to you, but it’s also an incredible opportunity to learn something from them that might be of value when you open back up.

Oh, and don’t forget they are very likely to tell their friends and family how AMAZED they were to see you there in these times.

Every business needs referrals; this is a natural and powerful way to get them.

COVID-forced downtime wasn’t in your plan and it’s creating havoc for you, your employees and your customers.

But there might be some benefits if you look for them.

Related: Why Do Great Leaders Come out in a Crisis?