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Tips For Virus-Proofing Your Small Business

by | May 19, 2020

The Covid-19 crisis has had devastating consequences both socially and economically. As the number of lockdown days grow in South Africa, so too do the queues of the unemployed and the hungry as businesses battling to keep doors open furlough staff.

But the needs that underpin businesses have not gone away. In best-selling author and professional speaker Douglas Kruger’s new book collated by a variety of industry professionals, professors, and entrepreneurs, Virus-Proof Your Small Business: 50 Ways to Survive the COVID-19 Crisis, Douglas offers some valuable advice on steps small businesses can take to see the other side of the pandemic. These are Twyg’s takeaways. 

Business 101 – profit over costs

Anyone who has had an ounce of business training will know that this formula is at the heart of business survival. 

Douglas highlights that during times of great distress, it is common to focus on the later (costs) rather than the former (profit). It is natural to want to conserve what your business has. But take heed. It is entirely possible to conserve and subsequently, dig your way into an early ‘business grave’ if you are doing nothing about income and cash flow.

Ask yourself: If you can’t keep the cash flow going now, are there alternative ways to enable it in the future?

Fight or flight – a conscious choice

The greatest threat to a business is a sense of hopelessness. “You have to make a conscious choice to fight for your baby,” says Douglas. According to Douglas, this comes from realising the potential importance of your small business to other businesses and making a conscious choice to fight for it.

Working remotely and managing your business crew

Some business owners may feel a sense of insecurity when they are unable to see work in progress on site. Douglas suggests turning this hard time into a sense of shared mission – something you and your team are going through together and brainstorm ideas on how to get through it.

Negotiate ‘overlapping hours’: pick 3 to four hours out of your day as ‘overlapping hours’ when everyone in your business is available if contact is required. This way your day doesn’t have to be interrupted by a series of calls.

Building a basic framework to cope with the COVID-19 crisis (the ‘5 Cs’ model)

Douglas says that a good way to ground yourself as a business owner in unsettling times is to start the day by reminding yourself that we are facing the same business challenges we have always faced. Only this time with reduced resources (time, labour power and income). This requires planning and restructuring which Douglas proposes through the so-called ‘5Cs model’ adopted from his friend in South Africa, Tony Cross.  “In a crisis scenario, we panic or we fall into total inactivity. The 5Cs model helps with execution, gaining and keeping momentum,” says Douglas.

Brainstorming change and adapting to new working realities

But what if your business is location- and interaction-dependent and you absolutely cannot do business right now? Remember, you’re still serving the same people, you’re just not serving them the same way.

Once you have established your assets and core resources combined with an assessment of what your customers need right now, take it online! Offer information underlying what your business does and monetise your videos. If you’re a winery, give informative videos on taste-testing. All you need is 4000 watched hours on YouTube to apply for monetisation.

Continue to interact with your customer base via social media. This helps to create and maintain awareness around the brand as well as continue to build and set your business up for future sales.

Use this time to upskill yourself. Enroll in free online courses and take part in webinar, and Instagram Live sessions. 

Business owners are consumers too. One way you can help your fellow, local businessmen is simply to support them. Order take-out from local restaurants or do your weekly shopping at your local, sustainable green grocer. Alternatively, support local businesses like hair salons by buying a voucher you can use later.

Ask yourself: What is the essence of your business if it can’t sell your product?   

Stretching the cash

Douglas says that in order to keep your finger on the pulse, you need to keep your earnings as high as possible and your losses low. You need to re-examine every corner of your business in order to do this:

Start with categorising what is essential, and what is non-essential expenditure. Then, calculate how much money is still likely to come in followed by examining which revenue streams might be affected. 

Find out who you can collaborate with to ensure mutually assured survival. Be honest with your staff and inform them about the status quo regarding salary and bonuses. Monitor progress weekly.

There is life after the crisis. The community’s needs are backing up and are set to come in a wave. Think about what your business can do now to position yourself smartly for this wave. Most importantly, if you stumble upon an idea that is working for your business, share that principle with other businesses. Their survival could impact your survival.

Douglas Kruger is a best-selling business author and award-winning professional speaker. Virus-proof Your Small Business is published by Penguin Random House. The recommended price is R90. You can buy a copy here.

*Feature image sourced via Unsplash: Tim Mossholder \

*Supporting images: Supplied

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