We all know that the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is developing rapidly, and as small business owners we are all concerned about what impact this will have on the future of our businesses.

These concerns are justified, but the actions you take now to protect your small business, yourself, your employees, and your customers can minimize losses and maybe even help you come up with a strategy to grow faster once it’s over. I know with all this uncertainty how hard this may seem to believe, but your willingness to act now can change your future trajectory- as demonstrated by the flatten the curve campaign most of us are embracing right now by staying at home.

First, I want to make clear that your number one priority should be to stay safe and take care of yourself. Protecting your business starts with protecting yourself and your family so you will be well and able to continue your business.

The fear for our personal well-being is stressful enough, let alone managing a small business in the midst of this chaos without a doubt. But before you rush into action, check your stress and anxiety levels and see if you can lower them a bit. Being overwhelmed and concerned about your small business is a recipe for ignoring the need for self-care, but it’s the foundation upon which everything else you do will be built on.

Managing your stress and anxiety is one way to protect your small business.

Without you, your business won’t survive. Maintaining your mental health is key.

While there are many resources on the web for managing anxiety related to the coronavirus outbreak,  here are three things you can try to get some relief:

  • Breath deeply. Take a 10-minute break to do some breathing exercises. Mindful breathing is an effective tool to reduce anxiety.
  • Talk to your friends and family. It’s important that  you don’t feel socially isolated. Pick up the phone and chat- or better yet- call a friend for a video chat.
  • Limit your news consumption. Everything on the news these days revolves around the spread of the virus and it can be completely overwhelming. The CDC website  can easily be checked for updates and will allow you to spend more of your day focused on other things.

Now that your anxiety level has been checked, continue to communicate to your employees and customers how to create long term safety.

Make safety your first priority now and in the future.

  • Actively encourage employees, especially those who are sick, to stay home always.
  • Implement systems that allow employees to work from home long term. As things come back to normal, develop staggered shifts to ensure stability and health of all employees.
  • Emphasize the importance of washing their hands and keeping their environment clean now and going forward into the future.

It’s hard. We keep hearing these same safety tips over and over again, and yet this is how we turn something into a habit when it stays top of mind. So, keep finding ways to keep sending your employees and customers some version of this message.  You can do it by sharing with them some empathy for those working on the front line to defend the virus.

Or by sharing gifs and memes to help keep these safety tips top of mind so that everyone stays safe and healthy and ready to return to work once this is behind us.

Figure out new ways to incorporate digital tools into your business to continue to serve customers

As people across the globe are being asked to stay home as much as possible, your business will likely experience a dip in customers.

  • Set up an online store. If you start emailing your clients, and directing them to this new shopping location, you may find some new sales.
  • Offer a pick-up  or delivery service. If you can use your existing employees to deliver free of charge to customers do.
  • If you offer coaching, consulting, fitness instruction, education, or anything that can be received through an online video meeting platform, sign up for one and offer it to your clients.

Bottom line, you may need to rethink how you can do the business you do in a no contact, online, easy to receive way. And most importantly, when you have done this you must get the right message out to your customers about your new way of doing business so they will understand and buy.

There is no substitute for communication.

The most important thing you can do right now is reach out to your existing customers. Set up email campaigns to communicate with them and make them irrefutable offers that can help them or lessen their anxiety or distract them. Whatever you do, if you believe this is a hiccup in the world, one that will go away in the not too distant future, you need to digitally communicate and continue to market your products and services in authentic relevant ways.

Right now, it’s important to have empathy in your communications to customers and prospects. Communicate on multiple platforms, add relevant links and use bold colors. In a word: make your communication user-friendly because people are distracted even more than usual, and whatever you have to say make it as straightforward as possible.

It’s a really sensitive time for everyone. Choose carefully what you communicate to whom and give everyone a lot of grace for the way they communicate through this time.

Think about your audience. Make sure what you say is relevant and authentic to your brand.

Change is challenging for everyone. But through this period of time, don’t stop communicating. If you haven’t already found an affordable agency to help you do this effectively, now is the time. You need great bare bones authentic marketing campaign that will keep your brand in front of the customers and prospects who you are most likely to be able to close business with now and once the pandemic is over.

If you have some sales now, or the tactics we have mentioned above are possible for your business to implement, utilizing a host of communication techniques- from email to blogs- to video- to social sharing and online live events- can helping you survive through this in the short term, and ultimately help you come out the other side much more prepared to thrive.