Many small businesses are working to rebuild because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are 4 positive steps you can take to get back on track and address future downturns.

  1. Review your finances and take inventory of your resources. Before you can develop a plan, you’ll need to know where you stand financially. Check your credit lines and see how much cash you have so you know what you can afford to spend. Then, ask yourself what you need to reopen, expand or recapture business.

    • Were you forced to lay off employees? How quickly can you hire or rehire staff, so you can operate profitably?
    • How will policies like social distancing affect your revenue?
    • Are there new products and services you need to offer in light of a changing business environment? Are they worth the investment?
    • If some of your customers took their business elsewhere, where did they go, and how quickly can you win them back?
    • Are there ways to adapt your business model, such as curbside pick-up, delivery, virtual services, do-it-yourself kits, renting out equipment, remote work options and collaborative platforms?
    • Are there additional costs you’ll have to pay, like restocking or expanding inventory?

    These questions are designed to help you understand what’s realistically achievable.

  2. Create or review your business plan. You may have to scale back revenue goals and revisit your business plan. And, unlike previous plans, this one may include winning back customers. One advantage you have with previous customers is you know what they bought in the past, so you can better target your marketing efforts and incentives. From there, you can work on attracting new customers. Take time to track your outreach progress to ensure you know what’s working and what’s not, and only invest in activities that deliver a decent return.

    You may also need to expand your online presence to accommodate fewer in-person contacts, from sales to suppliers. A few ways to increase your online presence: investing in social media advertising, upselling and cross-selling your products and services, and, if you don’t already have one, creating an easy-to-use online ordering system to generate positive customer reviews. If a customer compliments you, ask for a positive review.

    Need help with your plan? There are a number of cloud-based business planning software products like LivePlan, BizPlanBuilder and others that may help you build a well-thought-out strategy, or you can check with your financial advisor.
  3. Reassess your operating budget for new spending. Reopening and restarting your business will likely mean rehiring or retraining staff, reinvesting in inventory or equipment, and rebuilding a marketing/advertising budget. One tool that can help is business accounting software. Some programs like Intuit QuickBooks, Xero and Sage 50cloud Accounting are built especially for small businesses. Some organizations like business.org and PC Magazine have written comparison reviews on a few products.
  4. Decide if you need additional funding. Reopening or ramping up operations comes with costs. Many federal, state and local governments are offering small business assistance programs for businesses negatively affected by COVID-19. Funding is still available.

    Navy Federal is partnering with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to offer the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act for 2020 loans. The SBA will accept PPP applications until June 30, 2020. To meet that deadline, Navy Federal members who wish to apply must submit an application to us no later than June 22, 2020 at 11:59 pm, ET. If you receive a loan, you also may be eligible for loan forgiveness, if you fulfill the SBA’s requirements.

    For state or local government assistance, check your municipality’s or governor’s website for up-to-date information about what help is available. The National Governors Association offers a list of governors’ websites.

However you plan to rebuild, you don’t have to go it alone. Navy Federal’s Business Solutions Education Center can help you with more ideas on growing your business, finding the right advisors and low-cost promotion tools, and more.

This article is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.