Response to COVID-19 by SMBs
Even though SMBs are facing challenges related with the COVID-19, there has been adequate state and federal funding to assist with this impact. Some best practices in this season include prioritizing, thoroughly cleaning the offices, and creating clear communication channels.
- This pandemic has forced small businesses to support remote working, which is something they did not expect to do. These businesses may not have the capacity, in terms of technology, to support remote workers at scale.
- Cyber-crimes have been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic began. These criminals are using a map of the infections and deaths to spread malware.
- Securelist warns of one that targets Facebook Messenger, which will significantly affect SMBs. Companies are now faced with the burden of providing/scaling up the security for their remote network.
Loss of Business
- Business owners are facing large losses. One such business owner shares how he has seen nothing like this in his 47 years in business. He is loosing $100,000 every month because of this pandemic.
- Sick workers and scared customers are threatening small business operations. Local retailers and restaurants are examples of hard-hit businesses that rely on lean profit margins. These businesses might struggle to offer paid sick leave. Some states like Oregon require employers to provide up to 40 hours of sick leave.
- SMBs are showing an increase in ICT demand as remote work networks are being utilized/established. They will now be forced to reach their customers/market on a digital platform as well.
- After this crisis, it is predicted that most SMBs will prioritize spending in different ICT categories.
- The US government has provided various resources such as the Coronavirus Response Toolkit.
- This toolkit, prepared by the US chamber of commerce, is being used to help businesses and people understand and navigate the current pandemic. These guidelines inform business owners to keep customers and employees safe. The toolkit provides a checklist that provides insights into priorities and plan out strategic communication for employees and customers.
Disaster Assistance Loans
- SBA is offering loans of up to $2 million to businesses that the virus has affected. These federal funds will be released in coordination with state governors.
- These disaster recovery loans will be offered to businesses so that they pay off debts, payroll, and any additional bills.
Statewide and Federal Assistance
- The "New York City Department of Small Business Services" is offering financial help to small businesses. The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has submitted petitions to waive fees. Washington state is offering loans that will have no interest for businesses that face cash-flow challenges.
Prioritizing Critical Operations
- Critical business operations still need to be met, even though it is no longer business as usual. Companies should draw out a plan that ensures that they meet key business functions, even though important staff members become sick. One needs to prepare to make essential adjustments to get alternative suppliers or placing some operations on hold. It is important to allow managers of different locations to do what would be right for their specific location based on government guidelines.
Proper Cleaning Procedures
- If one is required to go to the offices, it is of paramount importance that they cleaned thoroughly and regularly: Surfaces, doorknobs, and handrails. Wipes, hand sanitizers, tissues, and no-touch trash cans should be adequately available. Soap and water stations should be set up at several locations within the premises.
- Following the instructions to observe social distancing, companies need to implement teleworking policies. Companies should cancel events and physical meetings. They should limit any attendance to shifts to minimize contact among employees.
- In the US, they have found the virus in all 50 states and the severity depends on location. State and local officials are issuing regular updates and guidelines for their communities. They will communicate any new policy and recommendations.
- As new information comes in, companies need to communicate with their employees and make all the necessary adjustments, as employees also help in identifying gaps and make any necessary improvements. Regular communication ensures that consistency is maintained, limiting misinformation.
Our research team could provide information for SMB and small businesses. In some sections of the research, we could not provide insights for SMBs as a whole and concentrated on small businesses. Our research analyzed various articles and publications in media sites such as the New York Times and WSJ and industry reports.