Nothing takes over the news like a deadly pandemic. In unprecedented circumstances, borders have been closed along with shops, cafes, pubs, schools, and more. Cities are in lockdown or curfew and sales of hand sanitiser, masks, and toilet paper (of all things) have skyrocketed.

Sadly, it appears Australia is heading for a recession and many businesses will not make it through the next few months.

Supermarkets are being cleaned out in a panic-buying frenzy despite all the advice that this is unnecessary and even unhelpful. But people are scared. Business owners are scared. We've lived pretty comfortably up to this point.

So what can you do in your business in response to the COVID-19 crisis?

LET YOUR CUSTOMERS KNOW YOU ARE THERE

Don't be afraid to let your customers know you are still in business and need their support.

If you are a small business, chances are your name and face are well recognised in your local area. This isn't a time to be shy. Get on your social pages, make a short video, do a Facebook live… get your face out there and tell people what you have to offer and that you need them to continue to support you.

Do you have products which supermarkets are struggling to keep on the shelves? Let people know! Don't expect them to think of you when they can't even think past buying multiple mega packs of loo paper.

UPDATE YOUR MARKETING

Do you have a business response to the pandemic? This is an excellent opportunity to show people you are proactive and care about your clients.

Maybe your cleaning and sanitising procedures have become stricter?

Have you recently completed the Australian Government's COVID-19 infection control training?

Whatever it is you are doing, don't be afraid to let people know. They are looking for reassurance and you can provide that.

CHECK YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULES

If you're like me, you schedule social media posts in advance, often weeks or months ahead.

Now is the time to check your schedule and update any posts which are now irrelevant. Remove any references to events or offers which will no longer run.

Tight management of your social media accounts now will ensure you aren't posting unnecessary and potentially embarrassing content.

Update your content with posts that will help your customers feel safe and secure. They get enough doom and gloom from news sources; be the one to brighten their day instead.

Maybe you could make a funny video, include a photo of a loved family pet, or a simple quote? Social media has never been all about selling and these should already be part of your normal content but at the moment, it will be appreciated more than ever.

WE MUST ADAPT TO SURVIVE

With restaurants and cafes forced to close in the US, operators there have had to think outside the box in order to keep their businesses running.

In an excellent example of adaptation, Canlis, a top fine-dining restaurant in Seattle, has redesigned their entire business model.

Converting their business from an a la carte dining experience to delivery and food-to-go mustn't have been easy but they saw the need, they brainstormed, and they took action.

While this won't work for all businesses, it shows that opportunities can still be found.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SITUATION

There have been reports of businesses which usually supply events and markets now having nowhere left to sell their wares due to the ban on public gatherings.

These savvy entrepreneurs are filling the voids left by panic-buyers in supermarkets by promoting their products online and selling goods the big guys can't supply.

If you are in a similar position, think about how can you promote your products and get people buying.

SET UP AN ONLINE STORE

Do you have an online store? If not, setting up an ecommerce website can be done reasonably quickly and cheaply.

Shopify or BigCommerce are common solutions however consideration should be given to their longevity. If these SaaS companies don't make it through the financial crisis looming before us, all your hard work (setting up your store, loading your products, ranking your site on search engines) will be wasted.

A standalone ecommerce site which is kept on your own hosting account and is safe from third-party hands is the best way to secure your online business in uncertain times.

An ecommerce store can be set up within days and start taking sales immediately.

EXPERT HELP IS AVAILABLE

If you'd like any help with upgrading your website to ecommerce, opening a new online store quickly, or need some assistance with your social media accounts, please drop me a line: [email protected]

Or head over to my booking calendar to schedule a time to chat.

Lastly, please practice social distancing and remember to wash your hands. We need a collective effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Stay healthy!