Businesses, both small and big ones, suffered from the disruptions brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even big names, such as Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, GNC, California Pizza Kitchen, and Brooks Brothers, have filed for bankruptcy because of the pressure and difficulties brought about by the pandemic.
Millions of small business owners have been affected by the disruptions in operation caused by lockdowns and travel restrictions. Some industries stayed strong, while some are suffering more than the others. If you are one of the small business owners who had to call a bankruptcy attorney during the pandemic lockdown, you are not alone. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a significant rise in the number of bankruptcies filed, both corporate and personal.
If you have filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, you can still open your doors now that businesses are allowed to reopen. Here are some steps that you can take before you reopen your business and make it more resilient despite the pandemic.
1. Create a detailed comeback plan.
For your reopening to be successful, you must have a detailed and well-studied plan. Reopening without a plan is like diving into deep waters, without knowing how deep it is, and whether it is infested with dangerous sea creatures. You will be reopening your business in an extremely volatile environment, so your plans must be stable and must be based on reliable research and facts.
Take stock of the market and your business. Does your business currently address a need, or is it something that people can live without for now? Review your products and services. How can they address the current needs of your target customers? Look for opportunities on how you can stay relevant and in-demand.
Your plan must also include how you intend to keep your patrons and employees safe during the pandemic, your budget, and how you will source your products given that travel restrictions are in place. The more detailed your plan is, the lower the risks can be.
2. Restructure and reorganize your business to meet the demands of the pandemic.
Depending on your type of business, you may need more people or you may need less. With the devastating impacts on the numbers, some businesses need to let go of people to stay afloat. If you had to close down and let go of your employees when the pandemic hit and the lockdowns were implemented, you may need to call some of them again. Review which people will fit in the new structure. You can choose to hire some functions full-time and some part-time. Staying lean and efficient is your goal to adapt to the current situation.
3. Put safety first.
The safety of your customers and employees must be one of your top priorities when you reopen. You must reassure your loyal patrons and your hardworking employees of their safety when they are in your establishment. Establish safety measures that adhere to the guidelines and recommendations of the CDC and WHO. Schedule regular cleaning and disinfection of surfaces. Set up handwashing stations and hand-sanitizer dispensers to encourage people to always wash their hands.
Ensure that people in your establishment will practice safe physical distancing, even if it means having to rearrange and reposition shelves, tables, and chairs. You can also limit the number of people who come in, and check their temperatures first before you allow them inside. Encourage everyone to wear face masks and hand out masks to those who come in empty-handed.
Another way to help in the current situation is to set up a contact tracing method that will require minimal contact, such as with the use of QR codes. Your patrons will simply have to scan the QR code and their details and the details of their visit will be recorded in your system.
4. Talk with your employees.
Your employees may have some fears and concerns, and it is important to listen to them. Be sensitive to the needs and fears of everyone. It will lessen their fears when they come to work if they know their concerns are being addressed and taken to heart.
5. Protect your business and your employees.
Reopening does not guarantee that you will not be affected by the crisis. Take advantage of the programs that the government offers. The federal government offers small business loans that can help guarantee that you will have enough cash to survive. You can use these loans for capital and payroll to help ensure the continuity of your business and the livelihood of your employees.
Filing for bankruptcy because of the pandemic should not be the end of your small business. With a solid plan, creativity, and openness to adapt to the current situation, your business can still survive and even thrive.