The worldwide COVID-19 outbreak is a quickly changing, uncertain situation. You may be seeing hourly updates about travel bans, upticks in cases, and restrictions on day-to-day life – all of which are affecting your business. It’s an unprecedented challenge for you as a business owner to keep your staff (and yourself) healthy and your business running as smoothly as possible.
Keep reading for 5 ways to keep your small business cash flow as strong as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting economic slowdown.
1. Provide business services virtually
Many parts of the United States are now under lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidelines, which prevent people from gathering in public. Additionally, in many places, “nonessential” businesses have been closed (the definition of an essential business varies by location).
While these restrictions are crucial for public health, they are having an outsized impact on small businesses that are dependent upon foot traffic and in-person sales. The lockdowns to control the COVID-19 outbreak can have a devastating effect on your small business cash flow. However, there are some technology solutions available that can help you still serve your customers, even while your physical business location is closed.
For example, if you own a gym or fitness studio, you can offer personal training sessions via video chat. Or, you can use services like Zoom to live-stream your fitness classes to loyal customers. Most of your customers are likely looking for a way to get in workouts while stuck at home.
If your business provides veterinary services, non-emergency medical care, or dental services, you’ve likely closed your office to all but emergency appointments. However, there are many telehealth services available now that you can leverage to continue to provide some care to your patients.
Or, if you run a professional services firm (i.e., consulting, accounting or law firm), you can leverage email, phone and video conferencing to continue to provide services to your clients. In light of the quickly changing situation, your clients may need your support now more than ever.
2. Offer curbside pickup and delivery services
Retailers and restaurants have also been hard-hit by the lockdown restrictions and social distancing requirements. Depending upon the restrictions in your region, you may still be able to offer curbside pickup and delivery services to your customers.
If you have a corresponding e-commerce site or online delivery platform, making the transition to offering pickup and delivery only shouldn’t be too difficult. If you don’t have these services in place, you can promote that you offer these services at your business now by emailing your customer list and promoting on your social media channels, take orders by email or phone.
To transition to these types of services, you will need to retrain your current employees who are store clerks or waiters to provide delivery services or take orders via phone or email instead. You will also want to review the U.S. Department of Labor and CDC websites for guidance on how to offer these services and still keep both your employees and customers safe.
3. Stay in touch with your customers via email and social media
If you have collected customer email addresses in the past, now is the time to use them. If you have figured out a way to offer your services virtually or via pickup/delivery, email your customers and contacts to promote your new offerings.
If you have had to temporarily shut down, consider emailing your list promoting gift cards to your business with no expiration date. This can help with your immediate cash flow needs, and customers can then use the gift cards when social distancing guidelines are lifted and your business is open again. Many Americans are looking for ways to support their favorite small businesses during the outbreak and buying gift cards has become a popular way to do so.
Additionally, if you have company social media channels, promote your new service offerings or gift cards to your followers. You should also continue posting regularly during this time, even if you’re closed, to stay top of mind with your customers. This can help you keep your customers engaged with your brand even though they can’t visit your physical business location.
4. Work with your landlord, vendors, and suppliers
You should also look at your liabilities, such as your accounts payable, to see where you can to ease the cash flow crunch. For example, many businesses likely work with a few suppliers and vendors where they regularly purchase their inventory and other supplies. Reach out to your vendors and see if you can extend your usual payment terms, or if your vendor can offer a temporary payment grace period. If you lease your business location, you may also want to reach out to your landlord to see if they are able to offer some sort of payment grace period or discount on rent.
5. Look into available financial assistance programs
Even if you are able to put some of the tips listed above into practice, you’ll likely still find it difficult to keep your small business cash flow healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak. Most small businesses will still need extra financial help. Fortunately, there are a number of local, state, and federal assistance programs launching to help small businesses deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak.
The SBA has expanded its Disaster Loan Program to support small businesses affected by the outbreak – check out their website to see which states are now eligible to apply. A number of cities and states have announced additional relief programs as well, which we outline in our regularly updated “Guide to Government Assistance Programs for Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Outbreak.”
The federal government is also in the process of passing an economic bailout package, with large portions of the package going towards supporting small businesses during these challenging times. In the meantime, the government recently extended the tax filing deadline to July 15 to give businesses and consumers some breathing room.
Keeping your small business cash flow as healthy as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak is a challenge. OnDeck is here to support small businesses – check out their COVID-19 Resource Hub for more helpful information for small businesses.
Thank you to our partner OnDeck for giving us permission to republish “5 Ways to Maximize Small Business Cash Flow During the COVID-19 Outbreak."