Are you ready for the second wave of COVID-19? These are the actions you can take right now to help your small business survive the next, potentially larger, wave of the pandemic.
The CDC recently announced that the second wave of coronavirus is likely to crash over the economy towards the end of 2020. For start-ups and small companies, this could spell disaster, especially if they don’t have a functional business continuity plan in place.
Whether COVID-19 returns in repeated waves or smaller recurring outbreaks—one thing is clear—the worst may not be over. Right now, we are in the eye of the storm with a moment to adjust before infection rates rise, social distancing measures tighten up, and lockdowns intensify again.
Here are several ways that you can actively protect your business against the oncoming second wave. Make sure to add, test, and refine these elements as part of your business continuity plan.
#1: Check Your Human Resource Protocols
By now, you’ve drafted your emergency preparedness plan and have established a list of protocols for your staff to follow while working on-premises or at home. Take this time to review what you’ve written and update it as needed for the next COVID-19 wave.
- Provide pandemic protocol cross-training to employees who perform important tasks. Everyone in your business must know what comes next in emergency situations.
- Review and update your policies on remote work, sick leave, and unpaid leave.
- Create a worst-case scenario protocol with employee furloughs or retrenchments based on a hierarchy of operational importance.
- Develop ‘always remote’ policies that guarantee relevant staff have laptops, connectivity, and access to their work wherever they are, at any time.
- Provide screening and isolation protocols for employees who are suspected of having the virus and an on-premises decontamination protocol if someone is formally diagnosed.
- Host regular meetings with your teams to discuss social distancing measures and to educate them about the impact of the virus on their families.
If you spot weaknesses in your HR continuity policies, this is the time to make them stronger. In addition, you’ll want an IT expert on hand in case someone working remotely experiences technical issues from home.
#2: Lock-In an Extended List of Suppliers
One of the main issues to crop up during the first wave of coronavirus lockdowns was the sudden absence of supply. As a small business, your supply chain is a lifeline to sales. If you can’t acquire the stock you need to sell, you become stranded without a product.
- Experts recommend diverse sourcing and digitization to secure stronger, smarter supply chains that can stand an economic downturn.
- Investigate your suppliers and how they work. Understand who is vulnerable to breaks in the chain with third-party supplier networks and outsourced wholesalers.
- Actively increase and expand your list of suppliers to compensate for shortages.
- Make sure that your supply chain is flexible, and you can start or stop deliveries quickly and with minimum effort.
Take steps to lock-in a list of suppliers who will see you through the second wave. Don’t just have a back-up—have several—so that you never run out of what you need.
#3: Shift All Data and Records to the Cloud
If your small business hasn’t shifted all of your data to the cloud just yet, do it now. Social distancing is making on-location work less and less plausible in this current climate. A cloud-based system gives you permanent, reliable access to your company’s data and records online.
- Perfect for disaster recovery, ensure that you have a cloud-based backup and recovery system working at all times.
- A cloud-based hosting provider will give you seamless access to ongoing collaboration with no interruptions in your workflow. Make sure yours is primed for remote work.
- Take a minute to move critical paperwork to a safe place and make digital copies.
Your remote team will be able to work from home immediately, and the shift will be easy. If COVID-19 resurges, you’ll shorten your adjustment time which will save you money.
#4: Fine-Tune Your Communications Procedures
For your business continuity plan to stay relevant, you need consistent communication. Now is the time to refine the processes that you’ve put in place and to do additional research to fine-tune your communication tools for the future.
- Invest in updating your business website. It’s a key communication asset and must be modern, maintained, and effective in converting online sales.
- Work on expanding your customer email database. The email addresses collected through your website can be used to keep customers informed of changes during COVID-19.
- Establish an engaging social media presence where you can directly and publically chat with your customers.
With adequate online communication through your website and social media, you will minimize customer confusion and maximize your ability to keep people informed.
#5: Strengthen Your E-Commerce Business
E-commerce is going to be your biggest asset when surviving during these unstable times. As this global pandemic unfolds, you’ll need a powerful e-commerce business to keep sales rolling in. Invest in strengthening your online presence and the way that you sell on the internet.
- Find a way to move your products and services online. Create videos. Run live classes. Package and sell food items your community loves. Digital sales will save you!
- Make sure that your business website converts to maximize the impact of your sales. Start testing funnels now and drive traffic through paid and organic search.
- Create and test delivery services and curbside pickup options if you haven’t already.
For now, make your e-commerce site as strong as possible. Improve your SEO, make sure that you have a remote team to support your website goals, and find products or services that are in-demand to sell online.
#6: Stockpile Sustainable PPE for Health and Safety
There were many shortages that happened during the first wave, and business owners couldn’t find the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) for adequate health and safety measures. For the second wave, stock up on sustainable PPE materials so that you can protect your customers and employees.
- Instead of disposable gloves, purchase rubber gloves and create a sanitizing protocol. It’s better for the environment and more sustainable for long-term business practice.
- For high-risk employees, disposable N95 masks must be secured. For everyone else, switch to cloth masks for spread prevention. These can be washed repeatedly after use, are cost-effective, and won’t flood your business environment with disposable PPE pollution.
- Stockpile the correct cleaners and institute a daily cleaning protocol after work.
- Stop using disinfectant wipes on surfaces. Evidence suggests that it’s more effective to wash surfaces with a clean cotton cloth than it is to clean the surface with a disinfectant.
When you stockpile sustainable PPE, you reduce the long-term costs for your small business while protecting the environment, your community, and your employees from COVID-19.
Use these six business continuity planning steps to make sure that you’re ready for the second wave of this pandemic. You have the time now to prepare for what may be a far more difficult economic climate at the end of the year.
Ready for the Second Wave of COVID-19?
Check on your human resource protocols. Your people are your business so keep them connected. Find and lock-in an extensive, diverse list of suppliers so that you don’t get stuck without products. Shift all of your data and records to a cloud-based hosting service, for anywhere, anytime access.
Spend some time fine-tuning your online communications, which should revolve around your website. Make sure that your e-commerce store is running at 100% and continue to make improvements. Finally, prepare for PPE shortages by stockpiling sustainable PPE for your company.
Update your business continuity plan with these six steps, and you’ll make it through the second wave of COVID-19 in 2020.