Without question, the coronavirus crisis of 2020 is like none other we have faced in recent years, impacting us as individuals and families, businesses large and small, and our overall economy. Working from home has been a blessing, being able to be around the family more. It also poses a challenge though, as we navigate through this new reality.
Here are 5 tips to help you remain focused, productive, and stay connected while at home, in ways that may just be the difference in eventually coming out of this lockdown, empowered to take on what lies ahead.
1. Manage your day, don’t let your day manage you
While this sounds simple, it is easy to lose ownership of your day. Waking up with a spouse, kids and pets knowing you’ll be together all day can quickly feel like a weekend instead of a workday. Make sure to take charge of your day exactly as you did when you would get up and go to the office.
Start your day with a morning walk or some exercise. Whether you have an office in your home or have to lock yourself in your bedroom, allocate a comfortable clean area to work. This is your new “desk” for the time being so keep it clean and comfortable in order to tackle your goals for the day (and keep in mind you inevitably have a video conference, so remember to tuck away that dirty laundry).
Put structure around your day. Set your hours, take lunch, and it’s ok to take a break and get a little air. Enjoy lunch with your loved ones, and cherish these times. And make sure to get back to work as timely as you would when at the office.
With all the stress and concerning news that may cross your path during the day, try to focus on the positive. According to Forbes.com, focusing on the positives around you can help decrease stress by 23%, while increasing productivity by 31% (read more).
2. Consider a small business loan that’s right for you
Whether your business is in need of assistance now or not, take time to secure an appropriate loan for your business, just in case. There are several options available to you, and you should take the time to evaluate and consider if any financial support for your business is the right decision or not.
Keep in mind that the situation is still very fluid and some of the information (including deadlines) may change. Carefully monitor the situation regularly and apply for any assistance you decide to pursue as soon as possible if eligible.
Here are a handful of links to help you get started with your “home” work:
Federal Loan Options:
- Phase 1: SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)
- Phase 2: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
- Phase 3: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES)
- Payroll Protection Program (PPP) – SBA’s section 7(a) loan program
- Employer Tax Delay – Payroll Tax Deferrals
- Employer Retention Payroll Tax Credit – Payroll Tax Credits
- Main Street Lending Program (Main Street New Loan Facility)
State Loan Options:
- NYC Employee Retention Grant Program
- NYC Small Business Continuity Loan Fund
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program – $100M in cash grants and ad credits to 30,000 eligible small businesses
3. Stay in contact with your stakeholders
Your most valuable assets are your co-workers/employees and customers. Make sure to keep in contact daily, scheduling calls with customers and employees just to say hi and check in that all is well in their life (as well as it can be).
Embrace technology and give into video conferences. You’ll be surprised how just sharing a smile, and being upbeat and positive can be that ray of sunshine they need to brighten their day. Show you care (and mean it!)
It’s even ok (and a good idea) to continue communicating your marketing efforts. This helps your connections remember that there will be life beyond coronavirus, and keeps your business relevant and builds momentum for when you’re back in action! Just be cautious to keep personal reach out and marketing messages separate. While it’s ok to market, make sure your customers know when you call them to check in, that it’s authentic and meaningful. Nothing kills the personal connection more than ending it by trying to sell something.
4. Mind your cash; Manage your budget; Be creative
Revenues are down. Cash is king. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. We all know this, right? If you have not yet triaged your finances and downgraded your operating budget to allocate for your pending losses, make this your top priority. Review variable and fixed costs, and consider cutting non-essentials (immediately). Give your business the fuel it needs to cross the coronavirus chasm, and preserve the “powder” you’ll need to get back in action when the economy starts to turn around.
Be creative and stimulate new ideas that lead to new cash. Find ways to help your existing customers (and new ones too), especially if the idea is good enough to continue as a “new way” when life gets back to the new normal.
For additional tips on managing your cash and budget, here is a great article at entrepreneur.com (read article).
5. Spring cleaning of your store and inventory
If it makes sense and is safe, now could be the perfect time to give your store a well needed clean up. Wipe down everything, do a little touch up, and take the opportunity to refresh your store while traffic is down.
Conduct a physical inventory count. Make sure what is in your store and warehouse match the values saved in your computer system. Reorganize your shelves and optimize your flow based on lessons learned.
Most importantly, do what you need to do to remain safe and healthy. Cherish this time you don’t typically get to spend with your loved ones, and make time for them. Just make sure to discipline yourself, stay organize, stay focused, and get business done!
Written by Michael Wood, GM of Retail Channel