5 Tips for Navigating Your Small Business Through COVID-19

May 29, 2020

Guy with a mask

The complications caused by this pandemic has changed the landscape of business forever. More and more, we've experienced a shifting dynamic in-person and online shopping. Even physical businesses like grocery stores are making the shift to online purchasing options. With such a great divide between essential and "non-essential" businesses taking place right now, small businesses are taking a massive hit.

Most larger businesses like superstores, large chains, and established conglomerates have been leeching sales away from these smaller businesses and making it harder for them to bounce back or even continue operating. While these trying times may seem unfair, there is still some advice that you can try to help alleviate the toll that COVID-19 has taken on your business. The COVID-19 epidemic has taken a massive toll on all aspects of business owners' lives, including the way that they operate. 

taking inventory

1- Stay Supplied

It's an inevitable obstacle that all Americans need to face at this moment; the availability of products is not the same during, and possibly after this COVID19 pandemic. We've seen people stocking up on essential items and admittedly non-essentials as well. During the early stages of this pandemic, some people prioritized buying unfathomable amounts of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes. With such a high demand for a handful of products, access for certain items has become increasingly scarce.

As such, manufacturers in every industry are having a tough time keeping up with production while the product is being immediately sold. If you have the extra income as well as room for storage, you should think about purchasing a larger shipment of your commodities.

The worst thing you can do is not have enough inventory for your customers as those lost sales add up. If you're stocked up, and your competitors are not, this is the prime chance to convert customers that were previously loyal to the other company. Think of this as a possible trial period where a new customer can try your product and assess whether or not they want to continue purchasing from you.

Having your supplies stocked is critical, but by no means is this a call to action to start hoarding necessities.

Here at 1ink.com, we know it is important to keep our inventory fully stocked especially during this pandemic. Our industry has also been affected by massive slowdowns in the manufacturing process, making it a little harder to obtain certain ink cartridges in a timely manner. Printer Ink and toner cartridges can become a little hard to obtain due to the supply chain slow down. Certain popular HP ink cartridges, such as the HP 63 ink, and even the HP 65, have become increasingly hard to keep up with high customer demand. We're doing our best to supply you with the highest quality ink cartridges on the market; if you ever have any questions about current stock, you can visit our website for an accurate reading.

Social distancing

2- Prioritize Social Distancing

This may be a bit harder to implement if you're operating in a small area, but it must be done for the safety of both your customers and employees. There are plenty of small ways to maintain social distancing within your business that can be done relatively cheaply or even for free if you are thrifty enough.

The easiest method of implementing social distancing is by establishing physical markers on the ground to gauge your distance from other shoppers. Markers that indicate 6 feet can be applied to encourage the distancing of your customers while in line. These don't need to be anything intricate; a simple piece of tape on the ground will suffice.

In the restaurant business, there has been a massive shift in the way they operate. It's almost like night and day when it comes to ordering food. Many businesses have completely gutted in-person orders in lieu of phone and online ordering. Allowing your business to operate with the least amount of physical contact is encouraged and even praised by customers.

Curbside pickup has become a main staple of many businesses that cannot have patrons leisurely browse through the aisles. The one caveat behind the curbside pickup and why it cannot be implemented in all businesses is due to the major behind the scenes set up required. Most businesses that offer curbside pickup also require an e-commerce website in tandem to make the sale. If you currently have a dedicated website to your business, curbside pickup is a cheap and effective way to maintain your business. 

3- Transparency is Key

Transparency is an absolute must, especially in these uncertain times. A critical bond between you and your customer is sacred and should never be taken lightly. This may include possibly extending the reach of your customer service representatives to explain the situation that you're currently in.

We've seen how badly this pandemic has crippled the supply chain, but just because there are some issues in the production process doesn't mean you have to shut down completely. Being 100% transparent about your production process will help ease the tension between your eager customers.

Never lie to your customers or provide false expectations, especially if you're selling and shipping your product with an e-commerce platform. We understand that there may be some obstacles that need to be overcome before returning to normal operations.

Customer transparency can make or break the relationship you've been building all of these years. It would be a shame to waste years worth of a customer relationship for a single transaction.

Physical barriers

4- Physical and Structural Changes

Minor structural modifications to your business might be necessary to ensure the safety of your guests. Unlike the simple social distancing tweaks, you can make fairly easily; these structural changes might take a bit more work to implement. If your business is smaller and relies on heavy customer contact, you might need to consider structural barriers.

Physical barriers are encouraged to slow the spread of COVID19 respiratory droplets. Plexiglass sneeze guards have become an increasingly popular option for grocery stores, banks, and restaurants that have high physical contact rates. These barriers are usually placed at checkout stations or necessary contact points.

Some businesses are even constructing takeout windows that allow them to conduct business without patrons, even entering the establishment. By keeping your customers outside, your employees are safer and no longer have to run the risk of coming into contact with an unsafe patron. This may work for certain businesses such as restaurants and establishments intended to have a rapid service rate.

rational mindset

5- Be Practical

A rational mindset can get you through the toughest of situations. This pandemic is a major life event and should not be downplayed, that being said, this will eventually pass in the near future.

You should keep your mindset grounded between reality and hopeful optimism. While this pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the landscape of business, it's not here to stay forever. While there's no definitive date in place or even a reasonable time frame for knowing when the effects of this pandemic will be entirely over, there is always the comfort that one day it will be.

These steps that you take to innovate your business aren't wasted effort and can very much be used again in the future. The reality of the situation is that COVID-19 has shown us how much we can adapt to a threat. This virus outbreak isn't the first, and surely not the last, so being prepared and practical to adapt to any sort of situation is the most important thing you can do.