Economic hardships have been the new norm these past few weeks, not just in America, but in other countries worldwide. Many businesses have been asked to close their doors for the time being until this COVID-19 pandemic passes over.
Weeks ago, the world was as normal as it could get. Businesses were thriving, prospering, and some were just starting up, with nothing but a bright future in mind. 2020, to many, was going to be a year of filled with endless opportunities.
Then.....It hit. YES, IT HIT! I'm not talking light, I'm talking HARD! Businesses came face-to-face with one of their worst fears: FINANCIAL INSTABILITY . This is something that they had a firm grip on before. Being prepared for a crisis involving a deathly virus like this one was only a nightmare in minds of many.
Let's face it......It's not just a nightmare anymore......it has become a REALITY. I am here to assure you that it will not always be like this. America's businesses, I believe, will be much stronger after this trying era is over.
"Perspective is Key"
I believe that after crisis, we have the ability to learn A LOT and have the potential to grow from it, if we allow ourselves to. Example: Businesses will know what needs to be done if something like this were to ever happen to our economy again.
"Preparation is Key"
Employees have been faced with unemployment and many are having to file for government help because they have been forced to stay at home for safety precautions, not only for themselves, but for others as well. What should small business owners do?
Congress and The Trump Administration are currently working on passing billions of dollars in economic relief for those small businesses which are being affected by the novel COVID-19.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued reviewed guidelines to start handing out economic injury loans to small businesses in the states being impacted by the virus.
This memorandum is made to provide an overview of already existing assistance opportunities, along with a conclusion of provisions being negotiated by Congress and the Trump Administration.
Loans will have to be determined by the actual injury occurred and could possibly be worth up to US$2 million. Interest rates for small businesses are 3.75% and 2.75% for nonprofits.
These loans are longterm, up to 30 years. The SBA is doing all that they can to work with state governors through its network of 68 District Offices to help in managing their disaster loan programs.
TAKE NOTE: The SBA will be determining if the business is for sure creditworthy; loans that go over US$ 25,000 will need to be secured by collateral to the extent possible and, if the business so happens to have no collateral at all to pledge, the business owner's assets may need to take its place as collateral.
Funds that may be used include:
- Pay Fixed Debts
- Accounts Payable
- Employee Sick Leave
Some other bills that cannot be paid due to the disaster's impact funds may not be used to:
- Refinance Debts that happened before the disaster event.
- Make payments on other loans owned by or federal agencies or the SBA
- Pay tax penalties or non-tax criminal/civil fines
- Repair physical damage, or
- Pay dividends or other disbursements to partners or owners other than those related to their performance of services for the business.
On the 17th of March, SBA set forth these following guidelines in order to increase the efficiency of EIDL.
Under this revised criteria, once states have officially become a declared-disaster area, small businesses, private nonprofits, renters and homeowners will be able to apply online for an SBA disaster assistance loan.
Businesses will be able to use the online portal to see if they are in fact eligible on a case-by-case basis since EIDL eligibility depends on small businesses access to other capital forms.
If you think this would benefit you as a small business owner, then it wouldn't hurt to take a look at what might be possible during these trying times. Rest assured.....it will get better in due time!
I just want to tell you DON'T FREAK OUT! This will only make things so much worse. For some, remaining calm during crisis is extremely difficult because this is all new to them. The brain cannot seem to wrap its mind around what is going on.
What is happening in the world right now is definitely NOT NORMAL.
When people are faced with uncertainty, many turn towards feelings like fear, panic, and worry. Why? I believe it is, in fact, the "Fear of the Unknown."
What happens to our mind & body during crisis? Under intense pressure and possible information overload, we often miss the nuances of health and safety messages by simply doing the following:
- Not fully being able to consume information because of the inability to juggle multiple facts when faced with a crisis situation.
- Not being able to remember as much of the information as we normally could.
- Misinterpreting complicated action messages.
To cope, people tend to not use a logical and reasoned approach when it comes to decision making. Instead, many might follow bad examples displayed by others.
Mhmm........can you say "TOILET PAPER SHORTAGE CRISIS".
Hopefully this made you giggle a little. Because let's be honest, America will not be running out of toilet paper anytime soon. Do you know how many manufacturers we currently have in the United States? I dare you to Google Search it.
Trust me......WE WILL NOT RUN OUT OF TOILET PAPER!
This is a great example of what can happen if people let themselves fall into the feelings associated with a crisis like that of COVID-19.
One of the best things to do during times like this is to remain calm and to be obedient to the rules and regulations that the government has put into place during the next week or so.
Here are a few TIPS I'd like to give to you during the COVID-19 CRISIS:
- TAKE A BREAK from reading, watching, and listening to stories on the news, including social media platforms. FACT: Repeatedly hearing about the pandemic can be very upsetting to say the least.
- "TAKE CARE OF YOUR BODY! " I cannot emphasis this enough! BREATHE. STRETCH. MEDITATE. EXERCISE. GET PLENTY OF REST. Try following a healthy, well-balanced diet. Avoid alcohol and drugs during times like this!
- Make the time to UNWIND. Dive into activities that you enjoy! (there are plenty of activities that can be done at home)
- CONNECT with others. I recommend talking to those who you can trust about your concerns and the feelings you may be experiencing during crisis. (with the whole social distancing going on, this shouldn't stop you from communicating with others) There are plenty of options such as calling, FaceTime, WhatsApp, text, etc.
My advice to you: Focus on the POSITIVE! We will get through this.
Your business's visibility on social media platforms is extremely vital!
The #1 goal in your business should be to keep your client base on top of things. You want to let them know how you are handling the COVID-19 crisis.
How can you do this?
First of all, I want to remind everyone that Facebook & Google's employees are having to deal with the same struggles that every other employee is being faced with.
Don't be surprised if Google Reviews don't show up right away. There may be a delay.
Why is this?
Google has been taking measures into their own hands by working on them more remotely than ever before.
Put your focus on keeping essential business information up-to-date rather than putting all of your focus on reviews.
Running any Facebook Ads? TAKE NOTE: Facebook has a notification located inside of the the ads manager letting you know that if you are waiting on ads to be approved, there might very well be a delay due to the Coronavirus and shut down of businesses.
Facebook needs to take preventive measures against COVID-19 just like every other organization. This means that they are going to be understaffed, which, in turn will slow things down.
POST DELETED? POSTS DISAPPEARING? SERIOUSLY......WHAT IS GOING ON?
This is a result of Facebook's staff going home and IA stepping in. Apparently they were not trained properly.
Have a Facebook Business Page?
If so, I recommend designing a post that includes the status of your business depending on what industry you are in. Questions like: Are you working from home? Still providing the same service? Are you a restaurant? (If so, do you need to go with carry-out? Drive thru? Delivery? What are the options?) should be displayed on your page.
Change cover photo on Facebook Business Page!
You can make a nice graphic by going to Canva.com, PicMonkey, or any other online photo editing/design service. Once you're ready to get started, select the [Cover Photo for Facebook Page Design Option] Put some of the details that I have stated above right onto your cover photo. (Working from home? Still providing the same service? etc.)
RUN NEW ADS!
Here's why: once the regulations have lifted, as far as what we can or cannot do, those who were doing the most during the Coronavirus epidemic, will be way ahead of those who decided to do nothing at all.
"DON'T STOP DOING WHAT YOU WERE DOING"
No need to be left behind.......
It is better to give up some profits now, like putting more money into advertising to keep on being visible online. This is what you must strive for. When this whole thing is over with, you'll be way ahead of the curve!
FOCUS: noun. "a center of activity, attraction, or attention"
Some may need to drift their focus back to the basics.
Ask yourself questions like:
"What is it that we, as a business do?"
"What are the core values that we are bringing to the table?"
"How can we best provide that during this crisis?"
Things have been changing. They have been drastically in the last few weeks. You will need to find out what is going to work for your business in this "new" economy. Truth is, our economy is in a downward spiral at the moment.
You will start to notice that the responses you are getting on your advertising, etc. are a lot different then they were a month ago. This should come to you at no surprise!
REMEMBER: The most important thing that you should keep your FOCUS on during this time is the core values of your company, products, services, etc.!!!
"NEVER LOOSE YOUR FOCUS"
Whatever your customer is experiencing is KING! Put your focus on your website to make sure that you are giving your clients a fast, personalized experience!
When it comes to keeping costs down, you want to remember that even the smallest changes on your website will evidently start appearing to have an outweighed affect on the final results.
Make sure you know your numbers!!! (know where they are at constantly)
If you're not measuring, then you simply cannot manage, and if you cannot manage, then you may very well end up pouring money down the drain. Not professional at all!
What does measuring mean? It means accountability for your marketing spend. Measuring against your success criteria is necessary. You should be measuring sales, upsells, numbers of leads generated, or referrals. The time to make sure you identified your key performance indicators is NOW!
- Configure your Google Analytics properly. Make sure that all basics are being covered and that you are using data to propel your marketing efficiencies. Are your goals set up correctly? Connected your Search Console? Identified what is being measured? Have you been taking advantage of the free data that Google Analytics has provided to shape your strategy with?
- Measure Social Media ROI. When budgets seem tight, needing to make tough decisions about how you will spend your resources will be something that you will have to deal with. May I give you a soft option: you may want to put the breaks on your social media activities. It is a well-known fact that social media can be very time consuming and not really an essential activity. Before you end up making a decision like this though, make sure you have taken an exploration on how social media is helping your bottom lines in terms of visibility, engagement, and profitability.
You may want to ask yourself questions like:
"Where is my business going?"
"What changes have taken place?"
After pondering these....learn to ADAPT.
Let's face it! A lot of the games have changed in the world of business at this moment in time, so you need to find ways to adapt.
"We need to ADAPT to keep our Businesses Alive"
TEST, LEARN, TEST
Test things out. This is such a crucial part of any business! Face the facts, things are different! There's no way to dodge this even if you try. Results will not be the same, but remember, this doesn't have to be the end of your business!
"We're All in This Together"
People, now, more than ever are staying at home most of the time. What does this mean? They are experiencing way more FREE TIME than the norm!
Many seem to be spending more time online. Doing shopping online whenever they can is becoming a hobby for those being quarantined.
What does this mean for your business?
First off, during this time, make sure that your online presence is OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!
Make sure everything on your website is working properly!
If so, you may want to consider taking your business online or even offering deliveries. Whatever the case might be, go ahead and test to see what ends up working and what doesn't.
Don't get me wrong, there really is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to the digital marketing puzzle.
Being nimble and creative is the way to go! Measure success, and make sure you are learning from the experiments being done.
Here are some tips I want to leave you with:
- Experiments should be done quick, cheap, and easy to deliver.
- Does it work? If so, well done, now more of the same, please!
- If it doesn't end up working, forget about the experiment and move on. No damage done. Be quick and be fierce. You will have done a test on something, hopefully learned from it, and allowed yourself to move on and test something new.
You've Got This.....We'll Get Through This Together!
Malinda is a Content Creator/Web Designer @ Troyer Websites, a full service Web Design & Marketing Firm located in Orrville, Ohio.