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You Can’t Go Below Zero: Small Business and COVID (David Martin Commentary)

2 min read

As the world responds to COVID-19, how should your small business respond?

While the coronavirus causes worldwide challenges for health care systems and economies, every business owner (large and small) should consider the following as they contemplate a response to the threat of coronavirus.

  1. Follow the national guidelines. The faster we all comply, the faster this will pass. Decide what is in the best interest of your workers. Each workplace is different. The makeup of our workforces can differ widely. Our interaction with others varies by industry, location, size of our operation, the work environment, etc. Do the right thing.

  1. Begin preparing for a new normal. Things will never be the same. Will your business recover? Can it thrive? What will it take to rebuild your business and revenue streams? Should you “pivot” into a new line of business that utilizes your existing skills and expertise? 

  1. Based on what your customers will have experienced, how likely are they to continue to want what you sell when this economic crisis is resolved and we begin to rebound? Focus on alternatives. Realize there are always more solutions than problems. Relationships matter more than the widget you sell.

  1. Be helpful. No matter how bad your day is going someone has it worse. Support your clients, vendors, freelance workers, and others in your world, in every possible way.  

  1. Make sure your supply chain is stable. Even if you can survive, can those you depend on to support you remain stable? The best time to make friends is before you need them. Make new friends in the kinds of businesses that you rely on to make your business work.

  1. Spend time understanding your financials. Know them inside out. Be prepared to make deep cuts while keeping the core of your business viable. Nothing is easy.

  1. Take care of yourself. Years ago, a friend of mine who is CPA and I were discussing the recent suicide of an acquaintance we both knew. My friend lamented about the individual taking his own life, with the statement, “You can’t go below zero.” Too many business owners and executives have taken their own life during periods of financial distress. If you are thinking of this, get help immediately. Take care of yourself so you can help others. They need you.

David Martin, a specialist in crisis communications, is CEO of Allegiance Consulting Group in Little Rock.
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