Americans have not reached a post-COVID era just yet. Significant numbers of new cases are still being recorded every day, and virtually all scientific and medical experts anticipate a difficult winter ahead. At the same time though, we’re beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. People are slowly but surely getting better at taking the necessary precautions, and news of a promising vaccine has us thinking of a legitimate return to normal for the first time in months.
It will still take time. A working vaccine needs time to be developed and distributed at scale, and even then precautions will still be necessary. But it is time now to at least start planning for a “post-COVID” world that we should emerge into at some point in 2021. Specifically, it’s time to consider what such a world will look like for small businesses that will be looking to get back on their feet.
Of course, the more normal this world is, the more effectively small businesses will be able to get back to business as usual. But in the meantime, there are some important considerations for small business owners to keep in mind.
The idea of strategic planning for business is one that’s always important — but which is all the more so in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Granted, a pandemic is something very few small businesses even consider planning for, and many of the economic consequences of 2020 have been unforeseen and, more importantly, unavoidable. However, these consequences have also demonstrated how a business with good strategic planning might have been better able to withstand hard times. Knowing strengths and weaknesses, having a well-planned budget, and defining goals makes for a good start. But now, a strategic plan should also include considerations for remote work, tech-based data management, financial safeguards, and general flexibility. In other words, elements of modernization and disaster preparation should be worked into a broader plan.
STRUCTURE & LIABILITY PROTECTION
The challenges of 2020 have also shed light on the importance of small businesses owners establishing formal structure and liability protection. These are among the chief benefits of the LLC business structure, which unsurprisingly is the most common one chosen for today’s small businesses. As to why they can be useful with specific regard to post-COVID considerations, it’s essentially a matter of protection. As an LLC, a business will be recognized by the state, and will thus be eligible for certain types of grants or assistance (both of which have saved businesses in 2020) that might not otherwise be available. Additionally, an LLC protects the business’s owner from being personally accountable to issues (debts, losses, or even lawsuits) that may befall the company in difficult times.
The customer comfort factor depends on what kind of small business is being discussed. But generally, we know that consumers are going to need reassurance if they’re to return to business as usual anytime soon. It will be up to individual businesses to provide that reassurance by making sure that offices, stores, etc. are as clean and safe as they can be. Businesses that make this consideration a priority will be more likely to successfully ramp up their activity in a post-COVID environment.
REMOTE WORK & FLEXIBILITY
Part of the concept of a return to normal in a post-COVID world is to get back to business in a physical sense: employees returning to offices, stores reopening, coffee shops filling up with freelancers on laptops, and so on. At the same time however, data regarding the remote work trend brought about by COVID suggests that it may well be here to stay. Workers surveyed expect to continue working from home at least some of the time, and the simple fact is that businesses may have to adjust. Some consideration for remote work options and general flexibility will be important for business owners who wish to keep employees happy and comfortable (and productive!).
Although more aspects will need to be considered on a business-by-business basis, considering the above guidance now will allow your company to optimize its systems ahead of time, unlike the abrupt shift that was required as the pandemic commenced.
ABOUT PLATINUM GROUP
Platinum Group is a human capital management resource with solutions to help you streamline operations so you’ll have time to manage your business. No matter which division you work with: Payroll/HR or Accounting, our team is built upon a foundation of support, service, camaraderie and collaboration that we share both in-house and with our wonderful clients. For more information about Platinum Group, or to schedule a demo of iSolved, please visit our website.