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Running your small business in the face of COVID-19 outbreak

Building a business is already hard! This makes running it in the face of a global pandemic, like the Coronavirus crisis, much more difficult. Many pronouncements have been made of the disruption that we may experience as a result of this pandemic, comparing it with the financial crises in 2008. Prominent venture capital firm, Sequoia, has already declared Coronavirus as the Black Swan of 2020.

The effects of this crisis have already started manifesting as showed below.

Though COVID-19 is not as deadly as other human coronaviruses, its multiplicative power is very strong and its spread does not seem to stop as countries continue to confirm new cases each day. Below is the current stats on the crisis across the globe and in Ghana:

Around the World:

Global

1518719
Confirmed
88502
Deaths
330589
Recovered

In Ghana:

Ghana

313
Confirmed
6
Deaths
34
Recovered

As business owners ourselves, we have learnt some tips that we will like to share to help you weather the storm:

1/ Remote working: To help #flattenthecurve and reduce the spread of the virus, it is recommended that businesses adopt remote working. This is beneficial in many ways, for example, it helps safeguard the health of your employees, and saves the company cost in the long run. Tools such as Zoom, Whereby, Skype and Slack can be adopted for communication during this period.

Also, communicate to your customers about this change in your service delivery. Try as much as possible to reduce in-person meetings, rather using virtual only meetings.

Moreover, if your work really demands physical presence, then you will want to arrange seats or queues to conform to recommended social distancing practices, say, 1.5m intervals, like these:

 

Moreover, you should use cloud finance applications like Built to manage your finances in the cloud, issuing invoices, requesting payments, billing and monitoring your business performance on the go.

2/ Revenue drop: Unless you are in one of the few industries that may see an unusual increase in sales activities such as those in remote productivity tools and in health supplies, you are likely to see a drop in your sales activity. You may want to at this stage carry out initiatives to encourage sales and payments. For instance, you can incentivize early payments or bulk subscriptions to ensure you have some cash to stay afloat within this period. Also, you could sell vouchers at discounted prices so customers can buy now, pay cash and claim them later.

3/ Employee cost: A usual phenomenon during crises is laying off workers. At this stage, you should start by temporarily reducing perks that you offer so as to ensure your cash runway is enough to carry you through. Moreover, it is best to begin conversations with your staff on the effects of the crises on your business and what that implies for the business as a whole. That makes future tough decisions easier. You may also want to hold on on hiring more unless very necessary.

In addition, below are some opportunities you may take advantage of during this moment:

1/ Free online productivity tools: Some technology firms have offered their tools for free or at discounted prices so that many can access these tools. These and many more are listed on Open for Business which you can follow for more updates:

  • 1Password is removing the 30-day trial limit on new 1Password Business accounts so companies can start working safely from home, with their first 6 months free. With 1Password, teams can manage their workforce from anywhere, and safely share logins and other important resources with remote workers.
  • 8×8 Video Meetings is free to all users, and offers 80+ local dial-in numbers (11 toll-free) from 55+ countries and does not require any installation. Users can create a custom URL to host meetings of up to 50 participants without any time restrictions.
  • Atlassian is offering its software development tools free for small teams up to 10 users. The free products include Jira Software, Jira Service Desk, Confluence, and Jira Core.
  • Box is offering 3 months free of its secure file sharing and collaboration platform. The offer is for the company’s Business plan and includes unlimited storage, mobile access, and advanced user and security reporting.
  • Cloudflare for Teams is offering unlimited seats of Cloudflare for Teams for organizations of all sizes through September 1, as well as a free 30-minute onboarding session.
  • Google is expanding features of Hangouts Meet, its video conferencing platform, for current customers through July 1st, 2020. Customers can now host larger meetings with up to 250 participants, live stream to 100,000 viewers, and save recordings to Google Drive.
  • GoToMeeting is offering 3 months of free site-wide licensing of its video conferencing solution, GoToMeeting, for eligible organizations (health care providers, educational institutions, municipalities and non-profits).
  • Microsoft is offering 6-months free of Microsoft Teams, a unified communication and collaboration platform. Starting on March 10th, restrictions will be lifted on how many users can join a team or schedule video calls.
  • Quip helps remote teams collaborate by combining documents, spreadsheets, and chat, so all employees can work together more effectively. Salesforce is making Quip free for any organization globally, through September 30th.
  • UrbanSitter is offering a 2-months free parent subscription during the COVID-19 outbreak. Parents can find trusted childcare help to support them as they work from home during this period. Every sitter is background checked and UrbanSitter provides parents with as much information as possible to make informed decisions.
  • Cisco is extending services for existing customers of Webex, its video conference platform. The offer includes unlimited usage without time restriction, support for fewer than 100 participants, and toll free dial-in.
  • Zoho is offering its Remotely product line for free to all new customers until July, 1st 2020. Zoho Remotely is a suite of cloud applications that helps teams collaborate and communicate.

2/Facebook Small Business Grants ProgramFacebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where they operate. The program is to help eligible small businesses use the funding to:

  • Keep their workforce going strong
  • Help with their rent costs
  • Connect with more customers
  • Cover operational costs

The social media giant will be taking applications for the program soon. Check this page for updates and do send in an application. You may be lucky to win some cash support for your business.

We at Built wish you the best! Stay safe!

 

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