Governor Cuomo recently announced the phased reopening of New York State and business owners are responding swiftly. You all have heard the news and it has probably come with a mixed bag of emotions. You may be excited, nervous, anxious, scared or all of the above. If you’re a small business owner right now it is likely that you are itching for more certainty about what is yet to come.
I get it, trust me, more than you know. Some of you were probably on the cusp of something huge for your business just before this COVID pandemic hit. Maybe you relocated into another location, or you made some major business investment and planned for it to pay you back in the immediate future, or you may have signed a lease or closed a mortgage on a new brick and mortar location. Whether we like it or not, there is no immediate return to “normal” and there may not be for a very long time; if at all.
Here are a few major changes that I suspect will frame our new normal as business owners:
- PPE: First things first. Covering your face in public is going to be a minimum expectation and a new normal that we will all have to get used to. Investigate, evaluate, and implement the best and most appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for your business. Many business owners have incorporated safety measures beyond your typical cloth face mask. Some are implementing face shields, gloves, and other measures. Network with others in your industry to identify popular PPE trends and to make an informed decision about what will work best for your business.
- Sanitation: What to sanitize, how to sanitize it, and how often to sanitize are difficult decisions with major cost implications for a small business owner. I suspect that it will become normal practice for businesses to ensure that customers are aware of the sanitation measures that are established. On one hand people are eager to get out again, on the other hand, those same people still don’t want to get sick. Share as much detail as you can about the sanitation decisions that you make to connect customers with why you believe it is the best choice for your business, your employees, and your customers.
- The 6ft rule: While I don’t believe that every business will explicitly employ this rule (i.e. with tape on the ground and numerous signs directing people). I do believe that this will be something that people consider most while they are sitting or standing still in “gathering” spaces. If you have waiting areas, or other holding areas for clients, make this behavior easy on your clients by including a reminder for them to stand apart. Use creative spacing of chairs, tables, and other decor as visual indicators to help your customers maintain an appropriate distance.
- Staying Home: Until a vaccine is released I suspect that many people will continue to choose to limit their exposure by staying home as much as possible. As a business owner this should push you to look into other opportunities to grow your business outside of your brick and mortar location. If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that there must be revenue generating components of your business that exist outside of your brick and mortar location. If you are stuck thinking of other ways to grow your business you may want to consider working with a business coach who can offer ideas and new strategies for you to consider.
COVID has changed so much about our way of life, and I suspect that many of those changes will be irreversible. Instead of dwelling on what was, it is our challenge as small business owners to lean into this new normal in new and innovative ways.
If you are a small business owner navigating changes to your business as a result of COVID 19 reach out to us at the WISE Women’s Business Center to discuss what services may be helpful to you during this time.