How to protect your business from the disastrous impact of COVID-19?
Coronavirus has an impact on more than just human life and health. The global stock markets have been feeling the blow of the outbreak and plunging steadily, there’s a free fall in the oil prices, disruption in supply chains and overall, the situation looks bleak.
It is for these reasons and more, that small businesses are having trouble dealing with the panic among the employees and the customers, even as the companies themselves are headed for a future that seems dark, to say the least.
As people are isolating themselves and much of the work is being done remotely, video conferencing tools like Zoom are coming in handy, in bringing employees and clients together. In fact, Zoom has experienced a 30% increase in subscriptions in the first quarter of 2020 and has gotten 2.22 million subscriptions in the first three months of the year!
But is video conferencing all you need?
In this post we will be talking about the most effective ways that will help you protect your business even as the world is reeling under the impact of the fatal Coronavirus.
How businesses can survive COVID-19?
This is an era where you need action, and if COVID-19 is crippling you, your business, and your team, you have landed on an excellent solution.
Let’s take a look.
- Create an app
- Create a website
- Improve Communication
- Leverage the cloud
Mobile apps have become a quintessential part of running a business and if you don’t have one, it is time you created one. A mobile app with the right features like push notifications or chat can help you establish better internal and external communication.
This means, your customers will not feel abandoned and the communication between your teams will be strengthened and the overall operations will be smoother.
An enterprise app appears as a particularly effective solution in this case, because it keeps the data protected, security levels up, and the company functioning perfectly.
As the movement in general is restricted and employees are working from home or remote locations, a well-designed enterprise app is enough to keep your business working as if nothing has changed.
Creating an app for your business will help you restrict the sick employees to their home, thus protecting the others in the office and arresting the spread of COVID-19. As the cases for infection are increasing, it is important that you prepare the organization for a situation where work from home would be the only viable option. Creating mobile apps can help you achieve it easily.
It’s hard to imagine that you do not have a website yet! If the time and money demands had been keeping you from creating a website, Appy Pie is here with a software for you. You can build your own website at a fraction of the cost and bring your business in the digital realm. This means, even if your customers are on a self-quarantine or are unable to step out to your place of business, they can get in touch with you, explore your offerings, and do so much more, all without physically coming to your offices.
Add the chat feature in your app and website or create a chatbot to make sure that your customers are engaged till you can get a live agent to help them out. Currently, there are even opportunities to add live chat to your website for free. Due to the pandemic, many customer service software companies, like LiveHelpNow, are offering extended free trials of their live chat software.
Furthermore, think beyond the customers and imagine what an internal live chat can do for your business in terms of communication. It not only establishes stronger communication, but also speeds up processes as discussions can happen on a group chat without having to relay information to multiple employees one by one. Some of the best products include Slack, Skype, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp Groups, and Google Hangouts.
No matter where your clients and employees may be, the chat feature keeps everyone connected and engaged.
In times when social isolation has become a necessity, the power of the cloud has come to a great prominence. Cloud based software have unlimited scope in terms of functionality that it can offer a business, any business. Appy Pie has multiple cloud-based software than can help your business run smoothly even as you and your entire team is working remotely.
The newest product, Appy Pie Design is all set for its beta launch on the 18th March 2020. The cloud-based design software eliminates your dependability on external resources for your graphic design needs. So, whether you are planning for a rebranding exercise, spreading awareness, or need some designs intermittently for your business needs, Design can bring you solutions to suit your needs.
Project Management is yet another area where the cloud helps maintain a smooth workflow. Some of the top names in the industry include Trello and Jira. These kinds of software are the greatest tools for maintaining consistency and for keeping track of the way the project is moving.
These are tough times indeed and apart from the looming fear of contracting the fatal COVID-19 virus, small businesses are walking a sharp edge trying to strike a balance between being careful and trying desperately to keep the business up and running.
Here are some updates from different companies which can help you work better remotely and are inclined to help you and your business during this unfortunate Coronavirus outbreak.
- Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams has seen an unprecedented rise in usage over the Corona epidemic. The rise has been so drastic that its servers crashed. They are back online, and Teams is being given for free. For organizations that already have Office 365, Teams is being made free for 6 months.
While Zoom is not offering special pricing offers during the COVID-19 scare, they have created a separate page with important blogs and webinars with guides to increase productivity during the work-from-home crisis.
Zoom has also lifted the 40-minute-cap on free accounts in Corona Virus hotspots. This cap has especially been lifted for Chinese schools and universities. They have also removed the cap of video meetings and Zoom can support video meetings with up to 100 participants. Their enterprise solutions are affordable and most small businesses can get establish Zoom for their business with as less as 15$ a month for their Pro plan.
- Cisco WebEx
Cisco WebEx is actively trying to help consumers. They’ve extended their video meeting service for free in nearly 54 countries. Paid subscriptions can be bought by contacting their sales’ teams, but the free version offers up to 100 people per meeting. They’ve also created an e-coupon for the year which offers up to 4 months for free if you purchase an annual package.
For individuals, Microsoft is offering a free usage license until January 2021. The freemium version of the software is giving 10 GB of storage, 2 GB of personal storage per user, unlimited chat, and built-in audio and video calling. They have lifted limits for free users too. Microsoft Teams is a great product to start using during the pandemic.
Financial Assistance for Businesses Hit by the Crisis
If your small business has been or will be affected by the coronavirus crisis, the SBA announced that small businesses with financial burdens caused by the pandemic that don’t have credit available elsewhere can be eligible for loans of up to $2 million with 3.75% interest. Click here to learn more about SBA Disaster Loans, check your qualification and how to apply for it.
Governments are scrambling to marshal resources to offer assistance to those taking a hit. Be sure to keep up with the financial assistance updates made on Inc.com’s financial assistance tracker.
Inc has brought every program offered by Federal, and local governments to one home via this list. Per Inc’s own disclaimer on the tracker: “it will be continually updated as additional resources become available.” Stay tuned.
Keeping Your Employees Calm
Protecting your employees will also help you protect your business. Since your business will likely not survive without your employees, ensure that you can protect their interests too. Here’s what you can do to keep your employees calm:
- Proactive communication: The top brass of your company need to go out of their way and communicate better with their employees. Forget rank, experience and treat each other like friends. Talk about your problems, fears, and insecurities. Add a personal touch to your internal communications.
- Help employees focus: Since employees are working from home, help them focus by handing out interesting projects that distract them. Don’t pressurise them too much and actually give them work that they enjoy doing.
- Add a little flexibility: Uncertain times require flexible ideologies. The world as it is right now is unpredictable. Make your corporate rules flexible and safeguard your employees. Reduce the pressure on them and make it easier for them to take a day off. Create work arrangements and provide necessary equipment for woking from home.
- Limit Travel: Take your meetings to one of the popular online platforms. Make use of video calls, video conferences, group chats, or build an enterprise app of your own for better communication both internal and outbound. Not only should you limit any future travel plans involving your employees but should consider canceling any prior travel plans.
Tips to Work From Home for Businesses
As businesses are most likely to be moving to work from home, they should be prepared for it. Here are a few tips that should help you work from home:
- Establish & maintain a routine: Create a set of targets and a good routine for your employees and business proceedings
- Communicate more with your peers and employees: It is important to communicate properly with each other. Working from home makes communication a bit more difficult.
- Set the right expectations: This is a very important practice for individuals, managers, and businesses in general. Working from home will always be different, particularly if you are new to this.
In all, there is no need to let the pandemic impact your business and your bottom line. Retain your customers with the best of your services. And the better news is that this happens to be a great time to learn. Quarantines have given us something we’ve all lacked for years: more free time!
Prepare yourselves for the marketing, logistics and sales blitzkrieg that’s going to start once businesses step down on the battlefield again. Your small business is about to have one of its greatest chances to grow once this crisis passes over and the markets and economies start recovering. Gather your knowledge, consolidate your business and be ready to sell. Start learning new skills necessary for a small business. Check out courses, webinars and podcasts. If you feel they are too expensive for you, don’t worry! Appy Pie has got you covered. Watch our courses for free through Appy Pie’s Academy. We also provide webinars and podcasts. Check them out too!
We wish you luck for this trying time! We understand what you’re facing, and we know that all of us will get through it together. Let this crisis act as an opportunity to bring us closer and let us fight back this pandemic!
What measures have you been taking to keep your business running and protect it from being impacted by COVID-19? Let us know in the comments section!