Here’s how to keep your business up and running during times of crisis.
Hardships happen for small businesses—though it’s the unexpected ones that always hit closer to home. During these highly uncertain times, small business owners and freelancers may be feeling isolated, vulnerable and worried about the survival of their business.
In fact, during times of crisis, it’s not unusual for businesses to go through these three phases:
- Immediate crisis mode: What everyone is currently experiencing
- Business continuity: Understanding how you’re going to keep your business running
- Rebuilding: How you and your community will move forward, together
We chatted with Chris Schultz, CEO of Launch Pad and long-term FreshBooks customer, about some of the lessons he learned going through a natural disaster that affected his business. Many of these lessons can also apply to other types of global crisis.
Here are 5 tips that Chris shared that can help you protect your business during uncertain times of hardship.
Tip #1: Keep Your Priorities Straight During Uncertain Times
First things first: Ensure your team is safe. The health of you, your team and your team’s family and loved ones always comes first—your business comes second. This is not the time to be counting sick or PTO days.
As a business owner, be mindful that your employees or team may be confused and even frightened.
Stay in touch with your team to keep panic to a minimum. And make sure they know that even if you aren’t seeing each other every day, you still have their back.
Tip #2: Prepare a Communication Strategy
This is not the time to be short-sighted. If you think everything will be back to normal within a week or so, think again.
According to Chris, “After you’ve collected yourself, this is when you want to start thinking about things like working remotely and how projects will get done.”
It’s important to understand that when a crisis happens, things aren’t just “business as usual”. You may not be back in the office and therefore need to come up with a contingency plan, especially when it comes to managing your team remotely.
“One of the things that are important to immediately think about is how to be comfortable with people working remotely—and with them doing so for some period of time.”
Other important questions to determine, include:
- Do you have online collaboration tools in place?
- Does each employee have a back-up to help with ongoing projects?
- How are you communicating to clients regarding possible project delays?
Tip #3: Get Business Interruption Insurance
“Ensure you have business interruption insurance,” says Chris. “Now’s the time to start to think about that. One piece of advice I have is to take care of this earlier. At the end of the day, all of your claims really stack up.”
Business interruption insurance covers income lost in the event of a disaster-related business closure. You should always check with your insurance policy provider to see what kinds of disasters or crisis events are covered.
When it comes to working from home, don’t assume you’re covered either. Certain homeowner insurance policies provide limited coverage for business property. What’s more: Losses because of certain natural disasters, like floods or earthquakes, may not be covered at all.
Tip #4: Diversify the Location of Your Money
Having an emergency fund is a common financial tip. But have you thought about diversifying the location of your savings?
Scenarios that impact an entire city or county can have a devastating impact on your savings as well. A local financial institution may be unable to dole out cash immediately during uncertain times. Securing money in multiple locations can help you access important funds in a pinch.
If you do most of your banking with a local bank or credit union, consider setting up a savings account with a national or online bank. Wherever you keep it, make sure it is highly liquid.
An emergency fund won’t do much good if you need to wait until the stock market recovers from a dip to get your money. A savings account may not yield high returns, but at least the money is there when you need it, regardless of what the stock market is doing.
Tip #5: Plan Your Back-to-Work Transition
Once the intensity of the hardship winds down, you’ll need to slowly transition back to your regular work routine.
Remember: You and your employees may still be taking care of personal issues following the crisis. Being flexible can help reduce stress, so everyone can be more focused and productive as they ease back into a normal routine.
Moving Forward in Uncertain Times
It’s natural to feel in over your head during a crisis, but you’re not alone. Whatever isolation, fear or anxieties you are experiencing, we’re all in this together.