COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving situation causing growing concern across the globe, not only for our health but also for the economy.
So many businesses are now dealing with the difficult task of learning how to keep a business afloat and retain employees.
Because sales are down across the vast majority of industries in America, business owners have to get creative.
While laying off staff may seem like the only solution, it’s important to try everything you can first before taking such drastic measures.
Fortunately, there are alternative options and places to start if you find yourself facing this hurdle in these uncertain times.
1. Apply for the Second Round of the PPP Loan
In America, the government understands the catastrophic effects that will occur if businesses lay off their employees just to stay afloat.
At the time of writing, unemployment cases are up nearly 13%, almost as high as during the Great Depression, which helped propel the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan forward.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), this loan is “designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll, forgiving loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks.”
It must be noted that the first round of PPP set aside $360 billion for small business loans, and the funds were depleted in a matter of weeks.
Congress is actively working on a second round to provide funding for the millions of businesses that were unable to get funding in the first round.
You can learn more about this loan and how to apply here.
2. Spring Cleaning! Start By Department
As a business owner, there are undoubtedly tools being used without your knowledge.
Think extra Dropbox storage, Microsoft Word licenses, Instagram scheduling tools, and other items you’ve likely been paying for without much thought given.
The best way to really take stock of what you can cut is to ask each department to write down:
- Everything they pay for.
- If they are on a yearly or monthly contract (and when that contract will expire).
- Whether they feel that tool is absolutely necessary.
Pay special attention to the tools where you are on a premium plan, and consider moving to a basic one for the time being.
For example, when our company went through this exercise, we realized that some of our employees paid for extra monthly storage in Dropbox once per year.
However, almost everyone was using Google Drive (for free) for their documents.
Other tools, like Adobe Products, are great, but our employees agreed that they could get through these hard times without it.
Again, while cutting these tools out of your business doesn’t have to be permanent, now is the time for temporary cutbacks.
3. Ask Third-Party Tools for a Discount
We’re all in this together, including all of the third-party tools you use.
After you’ve been through your spring cleaning and have determined which tools to cut, you will be left with a list of tools you use that you absolutely cannot live without.
Whether that be a chat tool, booking software, or your CRM system, see if those companies who own these tools would be open to offering a discount to help you get through these hard times.
Believe it or not, many businesses are open to having that discussion so they can retain at least a portion of your business (remember, they are hurting too!).
Tools like HubSpot and Unbounce have already extended discounted offers, so if there is a tool you really want to keep, it is worth it to reach out and see if they will work with you.
4. Cut Down on PPC Advertising
While PPC advertising may be your main source of generating leads, and you need leads for your business to grow, consider the current climate.
- Is your traffic down?
- Are people in need of your service right now; especially if your service is considered a luxury?
If you are the type of business where demand is down, now is the time to consider cutting back on this spend and picking back up later.
While it can be argued that those who click a PPC ad are still interested in your product, it’s tough to say exactly when they are looking to purchase.
This differs drastically based on the length of your sales cycle, so simply consider if this cutback is one that’s right for you.
5. Offer Extra Days of Unpaid Leave
For many, this will actually be a welcome option, and as a business owner, you never really know how this will go over until you try.
Those with a spouse still employed and a family to take care of may jump at the chance for unpaid leave, plus it is a very obvious way to help out the company, and employees recognize that.
6. Consider Temporary Part-Time Work
If you absolutely cannot seem to get your costs low enough, you can consider a part-time agreement with your staff.
Many will be grateful to wait out the storm with you for half-pay as opposed to losing their jobs completely, and this cut in payroll can make a big difference.
7. As the Boss or CEO, Consider Your Own Salary
The airline industry has taken this action to heart, and it’s certainly something to consider.
If you can afford a temporary pay-cut to avoid laying off your employees, now is the time.
8. Negotiate Your Lease
Right now, it is no secret that most businesses are working remotely because it is the responsible thing to do for non-essential business.
Since you are not in the office and are not using the office space, contact the leasing office and talk to them about negotiating a lower rent or pausing payment altogether.
You would be surprised at how helpful other businesses want to be during this time and if you don’t ask you won’t know.
In the end, I think you’ll find that most of your staff are motivated to work hard and help make the sacrifices needed to keep your company afloat to avoid laying off staff.
It is our duty as business owners to do our part in making retained employment a priority.
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