5 Ways to Maximize Small Business Cash Flow During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The worldwide COVID-19 outbreak is a quickly changing, uncertain situation. You may be seeing hourly updates about travel bans, upticks in cases, and restrictions on day-to-day life – all of which are affecting your business. It’s an unprecedented challenge for you as a business owner to keep your staff (and yourself) healthy and your business running as smoothly as possible.

Below are 5 ways to keep your small business cash flow as strong as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting economic slowdown.

1. Provide business services virtually

Many parts of Nigeria are now under lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidelines, which prevent people from gathering in public. Additionally, in many places, “nonessential” businesses have been closed (the definition of an essential business varies by location).

While these restrictions are crucial for public health, they are having an outsized impact on small businesses that are dependent upon foot traffic and in-person sales. The lockdowns to control the COVID-19 outbreak can have a devastating effect on your small business cash flow. However, there are some technology solutions available that can help you still serve your customers, even while your physical business location is closed.

For example, if you own a gym or fitness studio, you can offer personal training sessions via video chat. Or, you can use services like Zoom to live-stream your fitness classes to loyal customers. Most of your customers are likely looking for a way to get in workouts while stuck at home.

If your business provides veterinary services, non-emergency medical care, or dental services, you’ve likely closed your office to all but emergency appointments. However, there are many telehealth services available now that you can leverage to continue to provide some care to your patients.

Or, if you run a professional services firm (i.e., consulting, accounting or technology), you can leverage email, phone and video conferencing to continue to provide services to your clients. In light of the quickly changing situation, your clients may need your support now more than ever.

2. Offer curbside pickup and delivery services

Retailers and restaurants have also been hard-hit by the lockdown restrictions and social distancing requirements. Depending upon the restrictions in your region, you may still be able to offer curbside pickup and delivery services to your customers.

If you have a corresponding e-commerce site or online delivery platform, making the transition to offering pickup and delivery only shouldn’t be too difficult. If you don’t have these services in place, you can promote that you offer these services at your business now by emailing or texting your customer list and promoting on your social media channels, take orders by email or phone.

To transition to these types of services, you will need to retrain your current employees who are store clerks or waiters to provide delivery services or take orders via phone or email instead.

3. Stay in touch with your customers via email and social media

If you have collected customer email addresses in the past, now is the time to use them. If you have figured out a way to offer your services virtually or via pickup/delivery, email your customers and contacts to promote your new offerings.

Additionally, if you have company social media channels, promote your new service offerings to your followers.  You should also continue posting regularly during this time, even if you’re closed, to stay top of mind with your customers. This can help you keep your customers engaged with your brand even though they can’t visit your physical business location.

4.Work with your landlord, vendors, and suppliers

You should also look at your liabilities, such as your accounts payable, to see where you can to ease the cash flow crunch. For example, many businesses likely work with a few suppliers and vendors where they regularly purchase their inventory and other supplies. Reach out to your vendors and see if you can extend your usual payment terms, or if your vendor can offer a temporary payment grace period. If you lease your business location, you may also want to reach out to your landlord to see if they are able to offer some sort of payment grace period or discount on rent.

5. Look into available financial assistance programs

Even if you are able to put some of the tips listed above into practice, you’ll likely still find it difficult to keep your small business cash flow healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak. Most small businesses will still need extra financial help. Fortunately, there are a number of local, state, and federal assistance programs launching to help small businesses deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak.

The CBN has expanded its Disaster Loan Program to support small businesses affected by the outbreak. A number of cities and states have announced additional relief programs as well.

The federal government is also in the process of passing an economic bailout package, with large portions of the package going towards supporting small businesses during these challenging times.

Keeping your small business cash flow as healthy as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak is a challenge. Lumilab is here to support small businesses virtually by automating processes of these businesses.

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