In year two of Covid, the coronavirus and its disruptions to everyday life seem almost normal now. However, life is anything but normal for most people and most businesses. It may help to approach the crisis much the way that a person would approach a health crisis.
The first thing you need is a diagnosis. You know your business is in trouble, but you want to know exactly why. Understanding what forces are at play may help you surmount the biggest and worst obstacles. Here are some factors that are affecting businesses that owners and managers need to be aware of.
1. Slow Downs
Beyond the actual quarantines, slowdowns have become a fact of life in the era of COVID. What happens is that there is a quarantine somewhere else. Then that slow down has a ripple effect down the line. When it hits your business, you are stuck in the slow lane while others may be rolling right along. This can be especially frustrating when you are trying to get your business up and running.
2. Speed Ups
Just as shutdowns and quarantines have been sudden, the reopening of society can be faster than a business can handle. It may put you in the position of trying to hire key staff quickly. You may not have the supplies you need to begin working again. Your competition may seem miles ahead of you. In the face of this, you’ve got to reassure yourself that you can catch up. Hopefully, it is just a bump as the world struggles to come back to normal again.
Whether it is tourists canceling their reservations, a bride canceling the wedding venue, or a corporation taking away the promised contract, cancelations have become a fact of business life. There’s less protection against these losses with the economy trying to recover. That makes each cancelation, whether it’s a lost purchase, lost client or lost contract, seem like the end of the line.
4. Tight Cash Flow
All of these slowdowns, speed-ups, and cancelations take a toll on the business cash flow. Few companies have the reserves to stay afloat. This is especially hard when faced with the large corporations who seem to float by on nothing but fumes.
5. Government Bailouts (Or Lack of)
Government assistance can go a long way toward keeping a business afloat. Without it, the situation can be dire. Furthermore, government assistance in one part of the world can leave the playing field uneven for those who work in international business. The application of government aid can be unfair inside of a country, leaving some prosperous and others angry.
6. New Competitors
Despite all of these ups and downs, new businesses are still forming. They don’t owe a year’s rent or need to pay an established workforce. They can come rolling into town with few debts and perhaps a bankroll from investors that isn’t available to a struggling business. Another new competitor may be a large national company or multinational corporation that decides to try its luck in your business arena.
7. Broken Supply Chains
Adding to the frustration, many businesses are affected by broken supply chains. This may be due to a lack of parts, computer chips, or raw materials. This can have a domino effect as one industry’s trouble affects their suppliers and their suppliers’ suppliers. Temporary factory closings can shut down the area businesses that rely on them.
How to Cope With the Stress and Come Out Ahead
Coping with this stress is the next step after you have named it. Business owners and managers have got to figure out how to live with so much uncertainty and still stay afloat.
There are some keys to this that can keep your business going despite all of the economic uncertainty.
Track Your Money
There’s never been a better time than this to understand where your money is and where your debts are. It’s easy to close your eyes and look away, but it’s smart to use this time to understand how the coronavirus and its issues are affecting your cash flow. You definitely need to stay ahead of business taxes that are sure to pile up despite the ups and downs of our current business climate. There’s no shame in asking for a business tax extension, as we explained here. It will probably spare you excessive fees, and that’s reason enough to do it.
Knowledge is Power
If you have more downtime due to business problems, you should spend it reading everything you can about the factors that affect your business. You may be able to see ahead to figure out when the tidal waves are coming, and you can duck for cover long enough to survive.
Community is Key
Your business is part of a community. If you haven’t already, you need to seek other business owners who are in the same area or the same business as you are. Actually, why not both? Each group you can find will become informal advisors to one another. This will expand your knowledge as they alert you to things they see and vice versa.
Social Media is Free
Social media makes it easy to find others who are in your community. It’s a way of developing relationships that may bring business to you. It’s also more demanding than many of us have time for in our normal lives. However, that’s pre-covid thinking. Now we have to utilize every free avenue we have to strengthen our business.
Check-in With Yourself
If you are under tremendous stress, it may turn into situational depression. When this happens, it’s hard to get things done. So, make sure to check in on yourself as you are probably doing with your employees. Accept that you aren’t perfect and move toward doing the best you can under the circumstances. Remember that moving forward one day at a time is a success when faced with so many challenges.
These are unusual times, and the only thing that business owners and managers can expect is to see more ups and downs before the crisis is over. If you stay mindful of what’s happening, band together with others in the business community, utilize social media and accept that you can’t fix everything, you will, no doubt, fix what you can.
That’s enough progress to keep you afloat.