2020 will be the year that goes down in infamy throughout the world. There is not a corner of the earth that was not affected by COVID-19, the international shutdown, and the resulting crippling business environment. Who would have predicted the effects of COVID on our lives and on our businesses?
Nearly two-years since the shut down, businesses are trying to reopen, stay open, and are attempting to bounce back. The good news is as a business, you’ve already weathered the storm and another nation-wide shut-down is unlikely. However, it’s always good to be prepared for any interruption in business, not just a pandemic.
What is the best way to tackle post-pandemic business anxiety and prepare for any type of disaster that might affect your business? How can you bounce back, or better yet, thrive during the next catastrophe that interrupts your business?
Have a plan!
Think of “Plan B” as a roadmap to business success, and for being ready for anything. Plan B should be part of your business emergency plan. A pandemic like COVID isn’t the only thing that can derail a small business. It is important for any business, large or small, to have a Plan B (or even a Plan C and D) when the unexpected changes everything you thought you knew about business.
Important Parts of a Business Plan B:
The steps you took in your business to survive the pandemic will help with planning for future business interruptions or disasters. A few things you may have had to implement “suddenly” have given you the experience and solid knowledge to know how to implement new procedures better or more efficiently.
Here are some things to consider for your plan B to mitigate risk and plan to thrive in any disaster:
Collaborate With Competitors:
The days of “Crush the Competition” are no longer helpful in the “new-normal”. Instead, a solid plan B involves working together. Here are some reasons why:
- Customers aren’t always happy to choose between one solution or product over another. Instead, allow them to have the best of both worlds. Maybe they could buy a “widget” from you, and a complimenting “doodad” from your competition at a discount. Customers love discounts of any kind and happy customers are repeat customers.
- Competitors can help fill the gaps in your supply line. This is a vital and important element of business today, especially with the delays in shipping and increased costs of goods. It also gives you breathing room when you can’t get inventory in on time. You can serve the customer by fulfilling their need, which will mean they’ll come back to purchase more items from you.
- YOU can help fill the gaps in the supply line for your competition. Not only does this add to your business sales, but also creates a sense of community and collaboration.
- Your competitors can help increase brand awareness and sales. After all, two businesses advertising for each other’s products gives you twice the exposure and will increase sales.
- Don’t underestimate loyal customers. Individuals like to support local business. Banning together with other local small businesses helps consumers feel good about supporting all of you.
To be successful in today’s business environment, sometimes you need to compete and sometimes you need to collaborate. Healthy competition can go hand in hand with friendly collaboration.
Create a Nest-egg:
Another important part of your plan B strategy is cash-on-hand or a nest-egg for your business that you can pull from in times of trouble. Most business consultants suggest setting aside 6-months of working capital. This business savings account could mean the difference between keeping your doors open or closing during the next crisis.
Plan for Employee Shortages:
You may not need them, now that employees are finally returning to work, but it’s important to make a list of independent contractors. Independent contractors can help with everything from filling the employee gap, to jumping in temporarily if business is booming. At Collin SBDC, we offer a CLASS that will cover all of the things you need to know when hiring contract labor. Check it out HERE.
Be Ready to Pivot Ideas:
Pivoting ideas means to shift to a new strategy, or to include a new idea in your business offerings or operating procedures. Pivoting ideas doesn’t mean you need to drastically change the whole company, but to have a few ideas ready to implement, should the need arise.
In our next blog, we will talk about how to pivot ideas and give you some insight as to how to make a “pivot plan” to be included in your Plan B strategy. I’ll offer you a few ideas to have handy in your Plan B to keep your business profitable if Plan A isn’t working the way you planned.
If nothing else, COVID and the resulting pandemic shutdown has taught small businesses the art of flexibility. Now is the best time to make a Plan B for the next time something occurs that affects your business. Take a hard look at what worked for your business, and what you could do better. Make a plan B (or C) and take the steps to be ready to jump into action and make your small business thrive.
For additional resources creating or preparing a Plan B for your small business, or if you would like help with other business strategies, please contact us at the Small Business Development Center – SBDC – serving Collin and Rockwall Counties, Texas.
Blog post by: Marta Gómez-Frey