17 Aug 2020
Nothing changes a business like a pandemic, where potential customers are staying home and spending less. But that doesn't mean it's time to give up on your business; it just means you need to make a few changes to keep your business alive.
Cash flow is the money coming into your business when customers make purchases and the money going out of your business due to expenses. This process must be well-understood and should become your new focus during a global pandemic.
You may have been planning upgrades, expansions, or other improvements to your business that don't have a direct (but have an indirect) effect on your cash flow. These improvements need to be put on hold for the time being. The only thing you can do is keep afloat, which means prioritising income and making cuts where possible.
There might be certain purchases your business needs to make to accommodate customers coming into your shopfront and purchasing your goods or services. For example, maybe you keep a candle burning so that your store smells nice and entices shoppers to come in when they walk by. Or fresh flowers to brighten up your space. Or dishwashing liquid to wash your dishes if you operate a restaurant. None of these items will be of use to you during a global pandemic.
Look for items that you needed when customers were walking into your store or restaurant that you no longer need to pay for now that consumers are staying home. These might seem like small cuts that only offer small savings, but if you look for every cent you could possibly save, those will all add up and could help you stay in the black during a pandemic.
A quick pivot can save a business, and restaurants especially should take the opportunity to pivot services. In a time where customers can't come into a restaurant to sit down and eat and drink, you might feel helpless. But if you can pivot to being able to deliver your food or offer pick-up services, then customers can still enjoy your food safely.
Other businesses that sell products should take the time to grow their online business. In a global pandemic, people are stuck at home and can become bored, which means they turn to online shopping for entertainment. If your business can partner with postal services to deliver your products to your customers' door, that means you can still make sales and profit, even during a pandemic.
There are a lot of ways that processes aren't streamlined in normal day-to-day life because it could mean lower-quality service. However, during a global pandemic, things change and streamlined services could become a lot more appealing on both sides of a transaction.
A great idea if your business is a restaurant is to organise pre-ordered meals that you can then bulk cook ahead of time. Each Sunday, plan a menu for the week (butter chicken curry on Monday, lasagne on Tuesday, veggie stir fry on Wednesday, etc.) that customers can opt into. Once they pre-order which meals they want ahead of time, you can bulk cook these meals that will cost you less than making individual meals would. Customers can still enjoy your delicious food and you can streamline the production process.
For non-restaurant business, there are ways you can streamline your processes as well. We've already mentioned online sales, but they can be vital to a business during a pandemic. If you don't have the infrastructure for online sales yet, take phone call sales. If you don't have delivery set up, customers can still come into the store to finalise a purchase and pick up their items if necessary.
In a global pandemic, everyone is experiencing the pandemic at the same time. Because of that, there are often government-funded packages to help businesses – especially small businesses. These packages could be funds straight towards your business, though that is uncommon. A more common option is a package that helps cover employee wages so that your employees can still work (and make an income themselves) and you can still have workers helping your business function. There might also be tax exemptions you can take advantage of during a global pandemic that will help keep the business thriving.