Four Tips For Business Owners Dealing With Uncertain Times

August 2020

During uncertain times, it is of paramount importance that business owners have a protocol in place for how they respond. As the managing member of a law firm, I’ve learned this lesson firsthand.

Below are a few of my tips on how to make sure your business can still flourish during times of uncertainty:

1. Create a business contingency plan.

Your business contingency plan should not only be for a major world event. This plan should cover a variety of unexpected moments, such as where employees should shelter should there be a flood, earthquake or tornado; what your protocols are in the case of infectious disease; what to do if you are a retail establishment, etc.

When creating this plan, identify and look at your resources. Take a look at the kind of risks your business might face. This varies greatly by industry and location. Are you in a location that is especially susceptible to a natural disaster? Is your industry recession-proof? Your contingency plan needs to be able to allocate resources and information across your company in a multitude of situations.

Once your plan is created, it should be distributed to each employee so that everyone knows how to access it at all times. Unless every employee can access the plan, it is not of use. Keep this in mind.

2. Alter your operating procedures accordingly.

Knowing that you might need to alter your methods of operations is of paramount importance when dealing with uncertain times. In your contingency plan, make sure you account for this. For example, is your store online? During times of uncertainty, your store’s doors might have to close temporarily or fewer people might be able to shop in-person. How would you account for this? What is your backup plan? What is the balance? By considering situations such as this one, you can ensure your business is prepared for whatever comes its way.

3. Adjust your marketing practices.

It is important during uncertain times to be direct, empathetic and clear. Ensure you’re resonating with your core audience and marketing to your demographic by posting on social media and sharing with your consumers how you are responding to whatever challenge you’re facing.

For example, if you are a restaurant, you might choose to waive delivery fees, take extra steps to sanitize your kitchen, support employees or offer customer discounts, depending on your situation. Share this with your customers on your social accounts. Similarly, someone who owns a health practice might choose to offer digital or telehealth methods, should they need to close their office temporarily. If you do offer these services, make sure your clients know about them.

It is very important that if you make internal changes, you communicate them to current customers and prospects so that they feel safe and willing to either start or continue doing business with you.

4. Consider the legal aspect of uncertain times.

Especially in uncertain times, it is vital that you know your rights and have a legal plan in place not only for your contingency plan but also when creating employee agreements, operating agreements and confidentiality agreements; when organizing information about joint ventures and more. These are all essential when going through uncertain times.

You do not want to get into a situation where your business, on top of dealing with uncertain times, faces a lawsuit, potential legal trouble or other related issues. Work closely with your legal team or consider seeking legal counsel to help you navigate this.

It can be scary to navigate uncertain times as a business owner. With this, it is of paramount importance that you create a business contingency plan, alter your operating procedures accordingly, adjust your marketing practices and consider the legal aspect of uncertain times. By staying positive, diligent and organized, you can adjust your current practices a bit and get through whatever storm your business must face.

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