The world currently faces a health challenge, unlike any living generations have seen. It’s impossible to compare the situation to world wars or other moments in the last 80 years or so because we’re fighting an unseen enemy. Tech businesses face some unique trials in these times, including their parts and products made in China and the implications of items imported from there as well as disruptions in supply chain management.
Almost overnight, some tech companies stepped up and turned floor space into makeshift ventilator factories. MyPillow converted their manufacturing facility to create cotton face masks. Cisco Systems send about 500 video units to nursing homes and hospitals so family members could connect in the midst of the pandemic.
In addition to meeting the needs of the country, tech firms are also scrambling to figure out how to release new products when their Chinese factories and suppliers are running so far behind due to the virus. For many tech giants, the second half of the year is the time they typically release new products and do the majority of sales. That may not be the case in 2020, so they’re trying to figure out the best ways to overcome the problems they’re currently facing.
You might not sell smartphones or make portable screen devices. Your business may be more of a service you offer, such as cloud-based hosting, data migration, or customer support. No matter what type of tech-based company you run, there are some changes you should make right now.
1) Review Workforce Travel
Slowing the spread of the disease helps protect your employees, customers, and keeps medical facilities from becoming overwhelmed. Look for creative ways to move your employees to remote work. When people work from home, they aren’t out spreading the virus at gas pumps, local drive-throughs and in your office building. You can also do deep disinfection of the office while everyone is out.
If you have a conference planned, you’ve probably already canceled. If you haven’t, look at the dates of the meeting and make a best guess about whether the self-isolation recommendations will likely lift by the time the event rolls around. For trade shows your team regularly attends, consider putting a moratorium on them for the remainder of the year to be on the safe side.
If you typically have traveling salespeople or meet with big clients, cancel any travel plans. Shift to an online meeting or telephone call format for the time being. Your customers will understand and appreciate that you’re keeping them safe.
2) Reach Out to Customers
Show your customers you care. This downtime is an excellent opportunity to do some enterprise resource planning. Think about the ways you’ve changed how you do business during COVID-19 and how it impacts your clients. Send them an email and let them know you realize the changes may be causing specific issues and what your plans are to reduce the impact as much as possible.
Reassure them you are working as hard as ever to protect their data and be an asset to their brand. Start with your most significant accounts. Call them and ask them how you can help them during this time. If any are struggling financially, work with them to keep them after the crisis ends. If they don’t have the funds to pay you, threatening them won’t do anything but cause you to lose them when things do rebound. Figure out a payment plan, put payments on hold for the time being, or come up with a solution that works for you both.
3) Assess Your Cash Flow
Quickbooks “The State of Small Business Cash Flow” report discovered about 61% of organizations globally struggle with cash flow issues. If you were already tight on accessible cash, an event such as the pandemic we find ourselves in could harm your company irreparably. Burying your head in the sand won’t fix the problem. Take the time to sit down and assess how much cash you have and what bills you must pay, such as rent and salaries, to keep things running.
Call any creditors or suppliers and let them know if you’ll be late. Many will work with you on late fees right now until things are up and running again. Communication is vital. Is there anything you can sell that might put more money in your hands for immediate needs?
The government has made small business loans available. Carefully consider if this is the right option for you. You’ll still owe money, and the economy may not rebound as quickly as you’d like. Every situation is unique, so think through the pros and cons of borrowing money to get through the shutdown and make the best choice for your company.
4) Plan to Return to Scale
You likely have a lot of extra time on your hands. Plan for when the scare eases. How will you get back up to speed quickly and encourage customers to order from you again? Is it possible you lost a few employees during layoffs or who decided they now want to be home with their children? Have a plan to replace vital workers immediately.
The day will come when the office is filled with workers again, and business returns to normal. Have a plan in place to protect your workers in case the virus isn’t completely gone. Ramp up your cleaning schedule, rearrange office space for more distance between workers and set some rules in place to keep everyone safe.
Prepare Now and Thrive Later
It’s natural to worry at this time. No one knows the impact Coronavirus might have on the country and the world economy. Even experts can’t agree on how long the social distancing guidelines should stay in place. However, those who look ahead and plan for the easing of restrictions will hit the ground running. Instead of spending your time worrying about something you can’t change, take the opportunity to make a plan for a future after COVID-19.