Small Business and Coronavirus Bullet Points And Actions

Small business and coronavirus continuity plan
Need help to plan your coronavirus business continuity? Download this plan.

If you run a small business and coronavirus is a risk then this short set of actions are a good starting point.

I recently wrote a comprehensive article on this topic that you can read here.

“Don’t Panic!”

The words on the front of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy seem rather apt with the pandemic under way. There is no need to panic, but we do need to take extraordinary measures in these unusual times.

The coronavirus is coming whether you’re prepared or not. Because it’s new and unknown, lots of people are panicked and others are assuming it’s no big deal.

What you need instead of a platitude like don’t panic is a clear action plan to protect yourself, your staff, your customers and your business.

To help people who want clear plans instead of buying into the hysteria and unease for small business and coronavirus, here are the essential facts for you in bullet form so it’s easy to digest.

For a more comprehensive version, read the main article I’ve written on this topic – Your Coronavirus Business Contingency Plan

Right, let’s get on with those bullet points that I mentioned about small business and coronavirus.

To help my clients, I created a coronavirus contingency planning cheat-sheet. There’s finance, staffing, supply chain and many other things to consider. The thing is, you want to do it quickly and then have it ready to roll. The cheat sheet helps do this efficiently. You can download it by clicking here.

1. Bullet Points About The Disease and Efforts to Stop It Spreading

  • The coronavirus has now officially been recognised as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. This is a serious disease that is rapidly spreading.
  • Although most of us are calling it coronavirus, that’s actually the family of viruses that includes this, influenza and the common cold.
  • It’s more correctly called by its official name, COVID-19.
  • It is not like the flu, although it is in the same family. We have no natural resistance to it and so it’s fast to spread.
  • The only way it gets contained is when countries lock down public events and get people to ‘socially distance’ themselves.
  • This concept of social distancing is important for your COVID-19 business contingency plan, as you’ll see later on.
  • Social distancing is essentially keeping away from other people.
  • This means it tends to start with things like closing schools, public venues and sports events. The big social gatherings.
  • The big event control will prove insufficient (just look at the level of lockdown that controlled the spread in Wuhan in China and that is now in place across all of Italy.
  • Governments are not responding quickly enough nor radically enough.
  • Look again at Italy for example – they closed the north on one day and a day later the whole country. Strategy at government level is not strong when situations change as fast as this virus.
  • Now look at the USA – they have not been testing people because they had no test kits. President Trump downplayed the impact and chose to focus on the economy rather than controlling the spread of the virus.
  • The consequence is that now the US is having to play catchup with the containment efforts. There is a ban on flights to most of Europe.

2. The Plan – Social Distancing

  • This means put more space between people.
  • Stop shaking hands with people.
  • Stand further apart from people.
  • If you have office staff, get them working from home.
  • Get them off public transport where they’re exposed to lots of other potential virus-carriers.
  • Keep them away from events with other people.
  • Hold meetings virtually online, instead of face to face.
  • Sit people further apart from one another.
  • If you have customers coming into your space, keep them further apart from each other.

3. The Plan – Stringent Hygiene…

  • Hand washing whenever there’s contact with somebody or something from outside the business
  • Make hand sanitiser or similar facilities available for people to feel that they can keep clean
  • Let people know about the health provider recommendations for personal hygiene
  • If you have customers on site, like a restaurant or cafe, provide hand-cleaning facilities, paper towels and a waste bin or some other way for them to feel clean
  • If you have staff entering people’s homes, what can you do to mitigate the fear that customers will have about inviting the virus into their home?
  • Do you need to consider getting your staff to wear masks?
  • Do you need to monitor the temperature of your staff, and introduce send home to self-isolate policies to keep them well?

4. The Plan – Small Business And Coronavirus Crisis Points…

Something that nobody likes to discuss is what happens if your business suffers a major loss of sales?

Some businesses will not survive the impact on trade of the coronavirus outbreak and will fold during, or shortly after the pandemic is over.

Planning ahead means that you are prepared and ready to make the tough decisions if the worst should happen.

I am recommending to clients that they consider 4 different scenarios…

  1. Loss of 25% of sales.
    This is a mostly business-as-usual level of loss. There may need to be some cutting back, but with a focus on marketing and sales afterwards, you’d probably want to avoid losing staff with this sort of drop.
  2. Loss of 50% of sales.
    Far more substantial, this would require cutbacks across your business and probably hard decisions about who can stay and who would go.
  3. Loss of 75% of sales.
    How would you cope with this kind of loss of sales? Having a plan to pare right back to a minimum viable sales volume is useful just in case. It will hopefully not be needed, but if it is, working it out without the pressure of urgent bills to pay makes your life a lot easier.
  4. Closing your business.
    This is the ultimate and final scenario. What would happen if you basically lost your customer base entirely? This is unlikely but possible. It will happen to the unlucky small business and coronavirus isn’t going to be picky about whether that’s you or not. Protect yourself personally in this situation with a plan in advance.

To help my clients, I created a coronavirus contingency planning cheat-sheet. There’s finance, staffing, supply chain and many other things to consider. The thing is, you want to do it quickly and then have it ready to roll. The cheat sheet helps do this efficiently. You can download it by clicking here.

For more reading on small business and coronavirus please take a look at my main article.

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Lee Duncan

Lee Duncan is the author of "Double Your Business: How to Break Through The Barriers to Higher Growth, Turnover and Profit", from Financial Times Publishing. He teaches the owners of small to medium businesses how to make more profit and enjoy more free time.

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