The pandemic has affected many economies big time, including the United States. A lot of employees are getting laid off, startups are closing down, and businesses that have been operating for a while are losing a substantive amount of their income. It’s true that the spread of COVID-19 is beyond your control. But, this does not mean that you can do nothing. As a small business owner, you need to cope with the challenges that go your way. You need a plan to survive the pandemic and recover at a later time. If you are looking for something to help you fight this battle, here are some of the best tips on how you can overcome the pandemic challenges.
Small Business Challenges and The Ways To Survive Them
Pandemic challenge #1: Small businesses are shutting down with uncertainty.
The fear of the unknown that’s what everyone is feeling right now. With the rising cases of COVID-19 around the world, there are no exceptions. Small businesses are not exempted, in fact, they are the first ones to suffer. The recent Facebook Survey conducted amidst the pandemic showed that 31% of small and medium-sized companies have closed since March. 52% of them are personal businesses, 43% are hotels, restaurants, and cafes, and 41% are wellness, fitness, grooming, and other professional jobs. The data clearly said that those who have personal businesses are mostly affected.
When asked about the reasons why they closed down, the majority of these mall and medium-sized companies disclosed that they needed to follow the orders of the health authorities and governments. 9% of them reported that it was necessary to end the business because of financial challenges while 7% said the demands are going down.
Uncertainty is one of the strongest opponents small businesses have right now. Even if they choose to open and operate, they still need to face other challenges such as the lack of demands and access to capital. In spite of that, there are plenty of ways to continue. If you think closing your physical location is one way you can minimize your cost, then it’s a great decision. But rather than permanently shutting down, try operating online. Sell your products and services on social media. Use the newly designed features of big social media platforms such as the buy-local trend of Instagram.
Pandemic challenge #2: Working capital is getting low.
When there is low demand, you can’t compel your customers to buy your products and services. At this time, supplies are overflowing. You may have inventories stuck in your storage room and since there is no inventory movement, your working capital is getting low. For small businesses, it’s tough to make a move when there is no access to capital. It’s a big pandemic challenge. It’s also one reason why these entrepreneurs chose to close their companies.
Facebook was able to generate a report from its survey where 2/3 of the participants said that they are planning to re-open in the future while the rest told they won’t. Of those who said that they are not planning to re-open in the future, 34% reported that it’s because they can’t pay their rent or bills anymore. About 60% of small businesses are having financial struggles right now.
To partly cope with the financial challenges you are currently facing, you can utilize the grant programs of the government. Since this is a global crisis, most governments offer assistance and subsidies for unstable businesses. Big companies are also stepping up to help small entrepreneurs. In fact, Google, Facebook, and other big business tycoons are providing loans and grants.
Pandemic challenge #3: Internet tools are not for everyone.
The number one coping mechanism small businesses did when COVID-19 cases spiked up was to go online. This has been the biggest trend since the pandemic. Even tech companies are adjusting just to address the demands of businesses going online. For instance, Facebook announced that there will be a new e-commerce feature on the platform where businesses can establish their online stores on both Instagram and Facebook. Based on Facebook’s survey, 23% of entrepreneurs are now utilizing digital ordering tools, 37% use digital payment tools, and 16% avail of service delivery tools.
The challenge here is that all those internet tools are not for everyone. There are still businesses that operate in their physical locations because they can’t just simply go online. If you are in the same situation and you think it’s impossible to make a switch from physical to online, just take your time. Use free tools from Facebook, Google, and other online platforms if you don’t want to avail of paid online services. Eventually, you will be able to learn how to use internet tools properly.
Pandemic challenge #4: Business-life balance is becoming a hurdle.
A lot of businessmen and women took their businesses at home. Truly, it has become more convenient for business owners to manage their businesses in the comfort of their homes. But, one of the biggest challenges they currently face is balancing business and households. Facebook’s survey provides information where 10% of owners and managers who have businesses are also taking care of their children, dependent adults, and the elderly. 47% reported that they are burnt out because they manage their companies and households at the same time. 29% are also concerned that they might bring home the virus.
When questioned whether managing their household responsibilities impact their ability to focus on their businesses, 29%, who are owners and managers, said that it affects them “a lot.” This percentage is higher than the 26% who are employees. 33% of those who answered are women while 25% are men.
There are indeed conflicts between managing professional and personal obligations. One way you can survive this challenge is by promoting the wellness of your mental health. There are a lot of initiatives by online platforms and concerned organizations. You can find weekly videos and web conferences that will help you recover from stress, anxiety, and burn out while you continue to be the boss at work and at home.
Pandemic challenge #5: Employees are being laid off.
The downfall of the business means the downfall of its employees as well. Those that shut down during the pandemic had employees who they needed to let go. One of the biggest pandemic challenges is employees getting laid off and it’s not even a choice, but a need. While some businesses remain open, they need to cut off employees to survive. They are reducing their expenses by allowing only a few employees to go to work or render shortened work hours.
According to Facebook, 44% of the businesses that participated in the survey disclosed that they laid off employees because of the pandemic, 22% let go of over 10 staff, and 3% said that they added more employees.
Employees need to be resourceful at this time. After getting terminated, they can still look for jobs and companies that need more manpower amidst the health crisis. As a business owner, you can also help by recommending your previous employees to your friends who need staff. Connections and networks are essential during this crucial period. Use them to help those who are in need.
Pandemic challenge #6: Optimism and Resilience.
The effects of COVID-19 might put you down but it doesn’t mean that you can’t recover today and in the coming days. You are not fighting the battle alone. There are a lot of people like you who remain strong during the fight. While the Facebook survey focused on the challenges that are negatively affecting business owners today, a silver lining is found–there are business owners who remain optimistic and resilient. Businesses are sharing their own stories online to inspire other companies to continue battling no matter how tough the situation gets.
Facebook reported that 57% of the businesses that joined the survey are still optimistic about the future of their companies despite the crisis. This actually a good number, considering that 31% of small businesses have closed since April already.
If you think optimism and resilience are hard to maintain these days, it’s understandable. Again, you are not alone. There are business owners who are losing their composure because of the pandemic. What you can do to keep the light shining is to look for things that will inspire you to keep going. Read business stories and share yours as well. No one really knows what’s the next thing that’s going to happen. Yes, uncertainty is a strong enemy but you must remain steadfast.
This is a very challenging period for businesses and employees. A lot more challenges will come unless the health crisis is solved. Some of you might be experiencing one or all of the struggles mentioned above, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. You can continue to run your business gradually until you recover from your losses. Keep up what you are doing to survive now. Your business will become proof that hard work indeed pays off!
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