Small Business Resources During COVID-19

In New York City, we’re completing our 3rd week of the state-wide stay-at-home mandate.  Rather than working during the day, I’m now teaching 1st grade, coaching my preschooler soccer and street hockey, cooking, cleaning, and obsessively checking the news for coronavirus updates.  And rather than unwinding at night, I’m working after my kids go to bed until my eyes can no longer read the glaring computer screen!

I’m sure you’re in a similar boat, but let’s not waste time commiserating about our personal lives.  This will all be over before we know it so we need to focus on preparing our businesses for success post-COVID.

In this article, I’ll walk through the resources you can use right now to keep your business moving forward during the pandemic.

Resources for Cash

In business, cash is like oxygen.  Without it, your business will simply not exist post-COVID.

That is why the government has created several programs to help businesses get the cash they so desperately need.  Here are the current options available as of this article:

If you haven’t already, then I urge you to apply for any and all relief options above that you qualify for. This is the first step to ensure you have the cash to get through this downturn.

Armed with cash, you can refocus your time and energy on marketing, sales, and operations.  Let’s start with marketing…

Resources for Marketing During COVID

As I wrote in March, we’re in the midst of a unique marketing opportunity that may never happen again in our lives.  Many of your competitors are hibernating so now is your chance to gain a competitive advantage if you can.

Below are some of the resources available (as of this writing) to help you market through the COVID crisis.

In addition to the resources above, our company just launched the COVID-19 Small Business Stimulus Program to help businesses invest in SEO during this crisis.

If your marketing is still humming, then we need to talk about how to maintain effective sales in our new social distancing world…

Resources for Remote Sales

For most businesses, face-to-face selling is no longer an option.  Of course, good ‘ol phone sales should still be utilized, but that’s not the same as looking your customers in the eye and forming strong, in-person relationships.

The solution is to get familiar with two online tools:

  1. 1-on-1 Video Conferencing.  At Main Street ROI, we use Google Meet for video conferencing, but there are a lot of other options like Zoom, WebEx, and GoToMeeting.  Don’t stress out doing extensive research because they all function very similarly.  More importantly, invest in a comfortable headset or microphone with good audio quality.  Nothing kills a meeting faster than sounding like a robot!
  2. Video Recording. In addition to scheduled video meetings, I highly recommend recording videos that you can email prospects and customers.  Loom is a good option for quick, free screen capture videos and Camtasia is my go-to software for longer videos.

Warning: Don’t worry about perfection here!  The goal of these videos is to connect with your prospects and customers like you normally do in an in-person meeting.  An authentic video with a few blunders will likely be more effective than a polished, professionally produced video.

OK, great, you’ve made a sale despite social distancing, but how are you going to fulfill?  Depending on your business, you may need to rethink how you’re delivering your services.

Resources for Remote Service Delivery

If your business typically provides in-person services like consulting, counseling, gyms, personal trainers, physical therapists, etc., then you obviously need to change your fulfillment processes to abide by the social distancing mandate.

First, I recommend adding a note to your website that clarifies that you’re still open and operational during this crisis.  Then, explain how you will continue to provide services to customers. The resources below are similar to the sales tools I’m recommending:

  • 1-on-1 Video Conferences.  Similar to sales, you can provide 1-to-1 services via video conferencing tools like Google Meet, Zoom, WebEx, and GoToMeeting.
  • Group Webinars. You can provide services to a larger group using tools like GoToWebinar.  At Main Street ROI, we’ve presented training courses to just a handful of attendees to nearly 500 attendees via GoToWebinar.  This is a great option for virtual gym classes and group consulting services.
  • Video Recording.  Again, similar to sales, you can record videos and then send the video to your customers.

Lastly, here are some resources to help your entire team maintain productivity while working remotely…

Resources for Remote Working

At Main Street ROI, our entire team has been working remotely for the last 10 years.  Based on this experience, here are the resources I recommend, along with some helpful tips:

  • Create structure with regularly scheduled “huddles” (via conference calls).  Depending on the size of your business, you may need just one huddle per week or you may need several.  At Main Street ROI, we have weekly huddles with the Ad Team and separate weekly huddles with the SEO Team.  Plus, we have a weekly Marketing huddle and an Operations huddle.   This structure will ensure you maintain momentum on all your key projects.
  • Schedule video conferences with the entire team to maintain relationships.  This can be done using Google Meet, Zoom, WebEx, GoToMeeting or any other video conferencing tool.  There’s no substitute for face-to-face meetings so don’t just rely on conference calls.
  • Use a project management tool like Basecamp or Asana.  We use Basecamp because we like how each client project has its own “home base.”   This will give more structure and centralize your communication versus relying on email.  It also provides a virtual office where your team can go each day to communicate.
  • Use cloud-based files if possible.  At Main Street ROI, we use Google Drive for files, which means files are stored in the cloud instead of on individual computers.  This also helps speed up collaboration because multiple team members can access the same file and make edits at the same time.
  • Do not overly rely on email.  Of all the tools and advice, this is the most important for remote working.  When you’re in an office you’re able to communicate effectively using multiple senses.  You can hear the tone and volume of the person’s voice and you can read body language.  When you’re remote using email, or worse text messages, then you lose out on critical communication signals, which ultimately leads to miscommunication.  And miscommunication leads to errors, frustration, and lost productivity.  Instead of relying on email, use the phone and video conferences whenever possible.

Alright, that’s all for now.  I wish you all the best as you navigate through this pandemic.  Stay safe!

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