The coronavirus pandemic hit the world economy hard. The U.S. economy contracted during the late first quarter of 2020 when stay-at-home orders went into effect. Small businesses had to rethink their strategies while shifting to survival mode.
Fortunately, the government intervened with emergency loans and funding for small businesses. As a small business owner, you know it’s going to take more than that to return to pre-COVID-19 profitability. That’s where business planning comes into play. Today’s blog from LongSchaefer explains how sharp business planning helps your firm recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
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Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Even as state and local governments have eased restrictions for businesses to re-open and allowed larger gatherings to happen, it’s important to monitor the situation carefully. We all want the economy to come back quickly. But we don’t want to move too quickly into pre-coronavirus activities because that may lead to more pandemic problems.
Rethink your 12-month, 3-year, and 5-year goals for your business plan. The goals you set forth at the beginning of 2020 may be unattainable, but that’s okay. Recognize that those six months were a temporary setback. Set realistic goals based on your current situation, how quickly you can hire more people, and how fast your loyal customer base returns. You should also think about a contingency plan should the coronavirus pandemic come back at some point in the future.
Dive Deep Into Your Market
Now is the perfect time to reassess the behavior of your target market for business planning purposes. Many of your customers might have been out of work or had reduced workloads during the pandemic. But they’re also eager to return to a normal life. Revisit your customer personas to see if you can find any gaps left by the pandemic. Do your customers need more time to come back or do they need you right away? As you talk to your customer base, you’ll find out what they need to come back sooner rather than later. The more you communicate with your base, the more information you’ll get from them. When you have more data, you have a better chance of finding the right strategy for success.
Now is an excellent time for competitor analysis. How did the pandemic affect your direct and indirect competitors? Are they starting to come back or are they still waiting? How many of your competitors are offering discounts, and if so, what are they? Seeing what your competitors are up to gives you ideas on how to come back from COVID-19 as you alter your business plan accordingly.
Find Ways to Become More Efficient
Efficiency is one key to profitability. What can your business do to become more efficient? Think about bringing in automated tools, outsourcing mundane and nonessential tasks, consolidating tasks, making your current tools better, and eliminating what doesn’t work. Business planning helps you find weaknesses and costly excesses so you can shore up your core business model and make it more likely to survive in the future.
Diversification is another key to survival. It works in nature. It also works in the business world. Find ways to diversify your portfolio of products and services beyond what you already have on hand. Use your business planning time to identify ways you can deliver more and different items to your target audience. This is where your market and competitor analyses come in handy.
Seek assistance as much as possible. Keep an eye on the news, industry publications, and newsletters. The SBA has already dished out billions of dollars in federal assistance, but that may be difficult to navigate. Talk to experts in business planning, such as financial advisors and accountants. They can give you valuable advice based on their experience in dealing with financial downturns and crises.
Talk to Other Business Owners
One last thing to remember is that we’re all in this together. Other small business owners are going through the same thing you are. They’re brainstorming ideas, how to plan for the future, and how to come out of this stronger and better than ever. Talk to other business owners to bounce ideas off of them, see what they’re doing, and collaborate on the road to recovery. Your discussions offer not only ways to cope with the coronavirus crisis, but also ways to solve problems and develop better business planning strategies to deal with a new normal.
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LongSchaefer: Business Planning for You
The staff at LongSchaefer understands what you’re going through. We’re a small business that was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, too. We can help you retool and re-strategize as you come up with new business planning strategies for recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. Contact LongSchaefer or call (513) 245-0300 to see how we can help your business.