The global chaos that the coronavirus seems to be generating, not only affects public health but also small businesses. The situation in the USA is still fluid (and confusing) but when businesses contemplate the worst-case scenario, they fear disruption and losses. It’s up to them to find measures to reduce the risks. A reduction in customer activity, employee dropout, and a rise in personal and company-wide healthcare costs hold the potential to cause losses.
This is already hitting close to home for small businesses. Consider stories like children’s store Rock-a-Bye Baby on Virginia Beach. This VA store is suffering from late shipments and slipping inventory issues. Supply chains are disrupted and even the products in-store are suffering a perceptible drop in sales because of a, perhaps unreasonable, fear due to their being made in China. Even small business owners, who don’t rely on Chinese supplies, are facing the impact of COVID-19, because of a general fear among the public of being in crowded places.
Under such circumstances, both large-scale enterprises and small businesses are developing concrete plans of action to mitigate the risks.
In this post, we’re hoping to help you fight the threat of the coronavirus. First, let’s look at some precautionary measures for your business to manage the crisis.
Educate yourself and your employees
Even if you manage your store alone with one or two helping hands, it’s advisable to stay updated with the latest information on coronavirus and the preventive measures. Keep a track on WHO’s official website, where they give out details of precautionary measures. Wash your hands frequently, use sanitizer, and use appropriate masks and gloves to avoid direct contact with the public. Opinion is divided about the utility of masks, but at least they will help your customers feel safer! Also, make it a point to disinfect your stores twice a day.
What about the employees staying at home?
If your business allows it, you can offer them the ability to work from home. This may not be possible to do for all your staff but it’s worth considering for the employees that really matter to you. There’s no easy option here. Without taking care of such employees, you risk losing them and that could hurt your ability to function when the crisis blows over. And taking care of them hits you in the pocketbook where it hurts. The good news is that federal and state governments are working on financial packages that will help businesses that have to bear such additional costs. Check how you can qualify for such assistance.
Now, in case any of your employees are diagnosed with COVID – 19, you should seek professional advice regarding sick pay or other amenities you can provide them.
Know your insurance claim
Claiming insurance at such times is also, unfortunately, not easy. These are unusual situations and not always the easiest to think through. However, you must know about the right kind of claim to make at what time.
For instance, it’s the business interruption and contingent business interruption policies that may be best suited to cover the indirect losses incurred by the SMEs. While business interruption coverage is applicable when the policyholder’s business is directly affected by a disaster, the contingent business interruption policy, unless specially endorsed might leave you with an uncovered claim. You could also explore policies that cover situations that address temporary closures of business premises, loss of income, and similar policies but need to be mindful of the triggers that activate coverage.
Commercial general liability insurance aims to protect the claims of third party policyholders for physical injuries and damage to their properties from actions by your business and your employees. Could that kick in if a customer gets infected and chooses to sue you? It’s worth checking.
While these tips are directed to protect your business from the crisis, here are some tips to help you combat the virus:
Get informed about your supply chain
If you’re unaware of your supply chain details, this may be the time to acquire as much information as possible regarding the same. Find out if your products are completely dependent on the Chinese market and take necessary measures to derisk, if possible. You can try online inventories or USA-based suppliers until the global threat subsides.
Discuss the situation with your stakeholders
Keep your customers, suppliers, debtors, and creditors in the loop while brainstorming ideas to take the business out of this crisis. Inform your customers about any delay in the shipment and apologize for the same. Make sure you also inform your debtors and creditors and even your landlord about the shortage of resources and request them to give you some more time to manage the risks and bring the things back to normal. Being transparent with your stakeholders could help you buy more time.
Reduce unnecessary expenditure
If you have been planning to upgrade your business, postpone the idea until the crisis gets over. Save each penny and create a contingency budget to fight the current situation. Once the clouds clear, you can move forward again.
Fighting through may seem difficult at the moment, but with a great plan, your business will sail through. Don’t lose hope and don’t give up. Soon, you’ll reach win through, bearing only memories of the crisis you overcame.