Surviving the Coronavirus as a Business
The global pandemic COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, has quickly reshaped the world’s
economic system. With large populations of people ordered to stay at home, local governments requiring
workplaces to maintain lower worker densities, specific business sectors closing entirely, and a worldwide
reprioritizing of what is considered ‘essential,’ businesses everywhere are suffering. Sean Dollinger, CEO
of Dollinger Enterprises, gives his entrepreneurial expertise on how business can survive the coronavirus’
Flexible Working Arrangements
While healthcare providers risk their lives in proximity to carriers of the coronavirus, it has been
recommended that, on a global scale, employees work from home if possible. Enabling people to work
from home eliminates the possibility of transmitting or contracting the virus from a coworker. Remote work
is especially important in locations with high population densities, be it a major city or a crowded office.
Dollinger says that the key to work-from-home, from a results standpoint, is effective communication.
Companies should leverage technology platforms such as Skype and Zoom in place of face-to-face
meetings, conduct group calls when necessary, use group messenger platforms and email to stay
organized, and rely on services such as DocuSign to manage electronic contracts. Additionally, Dollinger
advises that HR departments disperse information to employees not only on how to avoid the coronavirus
but also about adjusted company policies for remote communication.
If a person must work near others, wearing an N95 respirator mask and disposable gloves and washing
one’s hands with foamy soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizer are best practices for keeping the
coronavirus contained. Controversially, some infected employees may continue to show up to work due to
constraining leave policies (i.e., the employee ran out of paid sick days). These policies not only put the ill
employee at a higher risk by increasing stress but also jeopardize the health of surrounding coworkers.
Dollinger notes that it is essential for companies to re-evaluate leave policies, and for workers who feel
symptomatic to report their condition to a manager and to leave the office immediately.
In major cities, restaurants have temporarily closed their dine-in option, and entertainment venues and
fitness studios have locked their doors. As a whole, people are leaving their houses less, which takes a
tremendous toll on small businesses. For businesses looking to weather the storm and not have a layoff
en masse, the forecast is still ominous. In essence, the average small company has enough cash reserve
to sustain operations for 27 days, with real estate companies at 47 days and restaurants at a mere 16
days. Over half of small business owners have experienced a sharp decline in customer demand. With no
end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, companies are bracing for a global recession.
Despite the difficulties that small businesses are facing, Sean says that it is key to think about the
business in the long-term. Mainly, consider holding on to really strong employees. Even if it is a strain on
the business to keep these employees right now, it is important to think about what might happen in 90
days, or 120 days when things go back to normal and you need all the help you can get.
Take Out a Loan
The first thing that Dollinger suggests is to apply for a loan. States that have declared an emergency
status may be supplying Small Business Administration loans to qualifying companies. Private companies
such as Facebook are also offering grants to small businesses. Dollinger adds that companies can try to
negotiate better terms for their debt: landlords and banks have understood the crisis. They have offered
to defer interest payments in some situations.
Invest in the Business
But what can small businesses do if they cannot secure a loan large enough to cover the drop in cash
flow? Dollinger says that, while it may sound counter-intuitive, this economic downturn is a great time to
invest in your business. Many service providers are offering discounted rates for new businesses during
the coronavirus outbreak. Dollinger says, “the worst thing you can do is wait for the economy to recover. If
the economy takes six months to recover, then waiting six months to invest in your business will leave
you six months behind your competitors that used the economic downturn to their advantage.” For
example, brick-and-mortar retailers should invest in e-commerce websites instead of relying solely on
face-to-face customers. At the very least, developing a website can distribute knowledge of a retailer such
that when the economy recovers, that company will have an influx of new customers.
Additionally, advertisement costs have dropped as companies have cut marketing budgets to save
liquidity for other operations. Dollinger suggests taking advantage of this by running ad campaigns on
Google or other social media, as well as investing in search engine optimization for your existing website
or app. Not only can this stimulate business during the coronavirus, but it will launch your company ahead
of competitors that halted investments until markets stabilized.
Once the economy recovers, web developers will be inundated with new business; accordingly, with an
increase in demand, prices will increase. The same is true for internet ad campaigns and pay-per-click
(PPC) costs. Having run several successful businesses through the 2008 recession, Dollinger knows that
enterprises that capitalize on lower business-improvement costs will be the ones that profit the most when
the economy stabilizes.