Few business owners have escaped the financial effects of stay-at-home orders, new safety protocols, and consumer fears related to the pandemic. Even if you took advantage of temporary federal, state, or local relief funds to help you stay afloat during the worst months, you could be expecting significantly lower sales and profits for 2020 overall.
The short- and mid-term outlook for small businesses is still uncertain and varies by region and industry. In fact, challenging economic conditions could persist locally and/or nationally for a while. As the situation changes, you may need to think on your feet and approach some aspects of your operation in new ways.
It may help to visualize what a recovery might look like for your business as the economy inches toward normalcy. Here are four steps to get you started.
1. Take a hard look at your losses. Update your financial statements regularly and compare the numbers to last year's performance. It's possible the damage may not be as bad as you feared. However, you might need to adjust your revenue goals for upcoming quarters if they are no longer realistic.
2. Think and act like a start-up. There has never been a better time to update your business strategy or experiment with a new business model altogether, especially if it involves technology that might help you reach new customers, cut costs, or improve efficiency.
Start by questioning all pre-crisis business processes and spending priorities. Research nationwide industry trends, your local market, and how your competitors are responding. Finally, consider whether there is emerging or rising demand for a product or service that your business is positioned to fulfill.
3. Have cash or credit ready to go. If you are short on working capital, you might secure financing that could be used to fill short-term revenue gaps or pursue new opportunities. Open or expand a business line of credit or, alternatively, a home-equity line of credit, even if you aren't sure you will need the money. Other potential funding sources include Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs; term loans from banks, credit unions, or online lenders; vendor tradelines; and accounts receivable financing.
4. Don't go it alone. SCORE has partnered with the SBA to offer access to remote mentoring services, free webinars, and digital guides designed to help small businesses recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The National Federation of Independent Business and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are providing similar resources on their websites.