Updated: Oct 17, 2020
At the start of 2020, who would have predicted the first quarter of the year would be like this...and possibly the second quarter? Phrases like 'social distancing' and 'pandemic' were not in our everyday vocabulary. This is certainly one of the greatest challenges that our generation has faced.
We know very little of what life would be like after COVID-19. What we do know is, our every day lives will be drastically different. Across the world, the most vulnerable are on the front lines; the elderly, the poor, those with pre-existing medical conditions and those without access to healthcare.
This is NOT the time for bravado and ignoring government's advice. This is a time for unity, fellowship and citizenship. Though this pandemic should not be the reason to force interconnectedness, it's a time for caring. These sentiments have been echoed around the world by many government leaders begging that its citizens to take precautionary measures and realize that they are not invincible.
Mathew Wilson, the Chief of Staff at the International Trade Centre- Switzerland said "our lives will be defined as pre-COVID-19 and post COVID-19 just as we did with pre-9/11 and post-9/11. We are in the midst of transitioning." Our typical work shifts (for those still teleworking) are not the usual 8-hour days as if you were at a desk or your worksite. Teleworking has proven to be successful in many job positions that were once frowned upon. Everyone has realized the full potential of technology and social media- that's the good part. However, the harsh reality of some small business owners is that their organizations will be lost post-COVID-19. Many people have already been put on temporary leave, uncertain if they will still have jobs after the lockdown.
Small businesses are the driving force in most economies. For the private sector employees who are employed by small businesses, there is the likelihood of them not having a job to come back to. The Bahamas is still recovering from Hurricane Dorian that completely destroyed two of our largest islands, and biggest contributors to the Bahamian economy. It is not farfetched to think that in addition to this pandemic, we will not see a post-COVID-19 recovery from businesses that once thrived on those islands.
What does this mean for small businesses in The Bahamas and around the world?
Well, here are 5 Tips Got Getting Back to Business:
1. Cut cost wisely
Businesses are already 'cash-crunching' by finding ways to save money for the long term. While reducing costs can be beneficial, it can also be detrimental if small business owners are not saving correctly. Before making cuts, runt he financial projections. Don't wing it. Ultimately, think about growing your business out of a crisis. Every cut made can determine your ability to generate revenue for your company.
2. Revisit your Business Model/ Business Plan
Revisiting a business plan is never what anyone wants to do. I'm sure you can recall how long it took you to successfully complete your business plan and the hard work put into it. It's not the end of the world, but in order to keep your business afloat, those same plans that worked pre-Covid-19 will not work after. The key is to diversify your income; What to sell? Whom to sell it to? How can you deliver it?
The Bahamas imports almost all of its goods and businesses that do not locally make their products, you may be faced with this challenge. Countries are reopening its borders at different rates. There is a high possibility that your suppliers and other manufacturers will not be open all at once. Make a contingency plan to seek other vendors in light of this.
4. Prepare for your Workers
Your employees are important and their safety should be a priority. When work resumes, there should be new policies for your team to be able to operate in a clean space. Do not assume all will feel safe when returning to work. Continue to practice the social distancing orders even at work. Implement or increase sanitizing stations and make sure your employees are wearing the wright equipment to conduct work. Lastly, have strict guidelines with walk-in clients and a delivery option is applicable.
5. Work Schedules
If some employees can practice teleworking, allow them to. Some offices are not properly constructed to practice social distancing post-COVID-19. If your business can be fully functional on a shift basis, consider a schedule for employees to avoid having all of them in the same space at once.
These are challenging times for the world and The Bahamas. Companies that are considering opening fully in the upcoming weeks need to be in survival mode if they want to outlast the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Business owners must focus on keeping their companies afloat in this new environment. Begin to start thinking about how you will be able to start planning for a sporadic opening and how you will be able to reach your customers, vendors and employees.