Many businesses are laying off employees or shutting doors, at least temporarily during the coronavirus pandemic. Only you can make the decision about what’s right for your business—and you should do so in consultation with business experts such as CPA advisers or business coaches. You’ll also want to make sure that you are following the guidelines established by your local government.
But if you’re looking for ways to weather the storm, consider these five tips for keeping your business afloat during COVID-19.
1. Offer Delivery
For many businesses, a lack of foot traffic is crushing cash flow. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have products that others want and need. During this time when many people are unable or afraid to leave their homes, you can continue to meet consumer demand by offering delivery.
Many restaurants are already waiving delivery fees or making deliveries when they didn’t previously. This technique could be especially lucrative if you offer products, such as books, games, movies or crafts, that can make quarantine life easier for others.
If delivery isn’t an option, consider contactless curbside service. Let people buy items online or reserve them over the phone or via chat service and pick them up without getting out of their cars.
2. Create a Subscription Box
Even before COVID-19, the market was enamored with subscription boxes. In fact, 54% of online shoppers had at least one subscription in October 2019, and many shoppers had more than one. Businesses that can put together a weekly, monthly or quarterly box for patrons can create stable cash flow throughout the COVID-19 stay-at-home period—and beyond.
Think about what you offer, what people might need or want on a regular basis and how you can put it together in themed boxes. Consider meal, beverage, home salon, self-care, craft, entertainment and education kits. Such subscriptions can help build customer loyalty and maintain cash flow.
3. Scale Down
In some states, nonessential businesses have been required to close their doors. In others, businesses can remain open as long as they can maintain social distancing or allow no more than 10 people on the premises at a time. Consider whether you can scale your business down to accommodate smaller crowds.
One way any type of store can help ensure smaller numbers and social distancing is offering shop-by-appointment options. Invest in an appointment tracking software that lets people make appointments on your website and then arrive at the store during their allotted time period.
Creative tips for keeping your business afloat during COVID-19 like this can actually have two benefits. First, they allow you to generate some revenue. Second, they let you get to know more customers better, which can be a boost for future sales.
4. Review Support Options
Make sure you’re leveraging all potential funding and relief sources. If your company qualifies as a small business, you may be able to seek a small business stimulus loan. Some of these loans are being offered through the Small Business Administration and its partners and others are being offered by traditional banks.
If you have an existing relationship with an SBA Express Lender, you may be able to get an Express Bridge Loan. The SBA is also offering some debt relief for businesses with current microloans or 7(a) or 504 loans.
The Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was created to provide small businesses with the funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs. The fund—$349 billion—ran out in just thirteen days. The Senate has approved additional funding of $310 billion, which includes $30 billion specifically for community lenders and credit unions. The money must be used to pay employees, rent, utilities or mortgage interest. Approved businesses that use the money as instructed and keep all employees on payroll for eight weeks don’t have to pay back the loan, as it’s designed to provide an incentive for businesses to keep workers on their payroll.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance
Qualifying small businessowners can get an advance up to $10,000 that doesn’t have to be repaid. You do have to apply for the loan and meet the eligibility requirements, which include financial distress and loss of revenue related to COVID-19. The SBA is not currently accepting new applications, but keep an eye on potential future funding.
5. Take Out a Small Business or Personal Loan
Not everyone qualifies for the stimulus loans, and in some cases, that relief may not keep your business afloat during COVID-19 on its own. You might consider leveraging your business or personal credit history for a loan, especially if you have good credit.
Find out if you qualify for a short-term personal or business loan. Because these types of loans are rarely secured, you can use the funds for anything—including paying your employees, covering bills and invoices or purchasing inventory and supplies.
If you’re planning to put one of the tips above into action, you might need the temporary cash flow to fund the pivot in your business model that helps you stay afloat during the pandemic.