Coronavirus: 9 Things Small Business Owners Need to Do

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a weird and unsettling odyssey, and business owners are setting the example — implementing the solutions on the ground that help mitigates the spread of the virus, reassure workers and families, and keep their communities safe. Of course, it’s also up to business owners to keep their companies financially and operationally intact during this extreme economic and public health challenge. But, no pressure. Of course, it’s a lot easier to do the right things at times like these, when you’re clear on what those things are.
Here are some important recommendations for small to medium-sized commercial pavement sweeping business owners, to help you avoid potentially adverse outcomes such as viral outbreaks in your workplace and surrounding community and financial distress, and instead keep things running as calmly and incident-free as possible during this challenging time.

How Business Owners Should Function During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Even for the most seasoned and adroit power sweeping business leaders, it’s not necessarily intuitive to think, act, and plan in all the most advantageous ways for everyone’s interests in a circumstance as unusual as a global pandemic. It takes the proverbial village of highly experienced public health, economic, civic management specialists, and a well-informed and diligent business community to work together to formulate and implement the best possible plan of action across the business sector.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the CDC, OSHA, and the SBA h6ave all provided sound advice for small businesses, which taken collectively can and must be mapped onto every business owner’s strategic plan for realization of short-, medium-, and long-term objectives and goals.

9 Things Small Business Owners Need to Do During COVID-19

To get started in the right direction, here are nine important recommendations, including ways to mitigate financial risks to your power sweeping business during and after the coronavirus shut-down, minimize health risks to employees and customers, and adapt plans for future periods to account for impacts to operations, staffing, and your customer base.

1. Follow CDC Hygiene Recommendations for Mitigating Risk of Infection.

Help prevent the further spread of COVID-19, by implementing safety recommendations from the CDC:
• Don’t shake hands when greeting people. — Instead, greet people while staying at least six feet away and avoiding any physical contact.
• Wash hands very frequently. — Routinely repeat general announcements strongly encouraging workers to wash their hands when they arrive at work, throughout their work shift, and each time they leave and then re-enter the workplace.
• Avoid touching your face. — Add to your announcement a reminder to workers about the importance of not touching their faces, as a primary infection prevention practice during the pandemic.
• Disinfect surfaces very frequently throughout the day. — Disinfect tabletops, workbenches, doorknobs, light switches, cabinet, and drawer handles, sink surfaces, handrails, ledger book covers, clipboards, ink pens, office machines, tools, desktops, tables, desks, and anything else that people are touching.

2. Use OSHA Guidelines Combat Spread of Coronavirus.

See OSHA’s guidelines for employers to mitigate risks of spreading COVID-19 in your workplace, including:
• Reduce operations. — Stagger employees’ hours, require PPE, practice social distancing, emphasize handwashing.
• Manage individual risks for each worker. Make adaptations based on exposure risk levels for each employee’s particular work locations and tasks, and on their risk factors outside the workplace (such as age, current medical conditions, pregnancy).
• Prepare for reduced manpower. — Cross-train workers, to increase work capacity in case of high absenteeism.
• Implement environmental controls. — Adapt systems to improve air quality, improve foot-traffic routing, and take other measures to minimize the risk of exposure for workers, customers, vendors, and other visitors to your site.
• Stay informed. — Keep up to date on federal, state, and local information from government-contracted public health experts, and implement recommendations that apply to your particular work environment.

3. Be Open and Transparent in Communications with Employees and Customers.

Keep perspective that we’re all in this together. Everyone is dealing with this national and global health and economic crisis. So, it’s best to be transparent with workers and family about what your business is facing during the pandemic and shut-down.
People understand and have empathy for businesses going through tough circumstances if you communicate appropriately with them. Customers tend to appreciate the service they receive much more when they are told the truth that there’s a challenging situation behind the scenes.

4. Allow Workers as Much Flexibility as Possible.

Employees have their work and personal challenges to managing their lives efficiently during the global health crisis. Children’s schools are closed. Business offices and stores normally available are closed. Myriad services are shut down. Workers are naturally experiencing significant added stress during this time due to many pretty extreme inconveniences, changes in family routines, scarcity of many essential services, and even basic household supplies.
So, by any means, maintain flexibility with employees who need time off, flex scheduling, breaks to do personal business, and permission to leave unexpectedly when personal needs arise that can normally be handled on personal time. Just be understanding, and do your best to develop a robust contingency plan to keep things moving as well as possible if/when you become short-staffed.

5. Create Remote Work Options.

Today’s advanced team management platform technologies allow more people to work remotely than ever before. Consider migrating to software that integrates sweeping customer route sheets, tracks service locations and equipment run times, and automatically populates payroll numbers based on advanced GPS systems data. If you already have these popular sweeping industry systems in place, consider adding online or phone check-in for employees to use to report for duty, instead of having them physically come into the office to report for work each day.
Set policies that clarify your expectations of check-in and checkout times, availability for phone follow-ups from you, and other rules to ensure that you do not lose any of your current ability to communicate freely with employees working remotely during the pandemic. Set clear performance-level expectations and methods for tracking each worker’s deliverables.

6. Move Service and Sales Operations Online.

The coronavirus has presented pavement sweeping business owners with a unique motivator to look at shifting to more online and by-phone service and sales practices. Also, minimize in-person meetings and business travel. Reschedule staff meetings, or better, conduct them in virtual meeting spaces. Cancel plans for attending industry conferences or training.
The last thing a small business owner needs any time is the liability for a worker getting sick due to required meetings or travel under high-risk circumstances. Further, avoid potential moral issues, by granting requests for sick leave without requiring a doctor’s documentation.

7. Mitigate Your Business Financial Risks During and After the COVID-19 Crisis.

Sign up for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce National Small Business Town Hall, to stay up to date on the newest incoming collection of important business information and insights on ways to navigate through the pandemic and protect your workers, customers, and your business.
Explore business interruption insurance for the future. If you are experiencing severe financial losses due to the shut-down, consider reducing your risk of potential repeats in the future. This is especially important advice since it’s still too early to have a vaccine available and the virus is predicted by experts to return for some months later this year. Talk to your insurance provider about a policy to protect your company against future financially adverse events, and ask what coverages are available for your particular sweeping business’s various work types.
Expect increased delivery delays, order cancellations, back-order situations, and supply chain interruptions during this and the potential upcoming repeat phase of the pandemic. Prepare accordingly, by adjusting your operational and financial planning to implement alternatives as needed.

8. Utilize state and Federal Business Financial Aid Resources.

See the SBA’s The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act), accessible at the URL below, to learn about the financial resources available for small businesses under the congressional act.
The program resources are intended to assist employers in keeping workers on their payrolls and to reduce the economic impact of the pandemic on the U.S. economy.
The CARES Act guide details each type of aid available for businesses financially affected by the shut-down or other circumstances due to the COVID-19 virus:
• Emergency Economic Injury Grant
• Economic Injury Disaster Loans
• The Paycheck Protection Program
• Loan Forgiveness
• Small Business Counseling
Also, see the URL below to access the U.S. Chamber of Commerce article containing links to the complete array of business emergency financial resources in your state.

9. Implement Financial and Operational Safeguards for the Future.

Of course, COVID-19 is still spreading to new areas of the world and can be expected to continue causing health, financial, and functional effects to businesses and communities for a while longer. The good news is that some overseas economies are beginning to recover from their phase of the pandemic and the economic shutdown. The United States will reach that stage of relief from the virus in the coming months too.
In the meantime, this is the time to talk openly with your family, employees, partners, investors, suppliers, business neighbors, and local authorities frequently and work together with everyone in your vicinity. Collaborate with all these members of your community, to start implementing both health and business safeguards that will help protect people in your business and your surrounding community through the remaining period of the virus and beyond.

Looking Ahead — Beyond the Coronavirus

As the coronavirus spreads throughout the world, many small business owners are still not entirely clear on the appropriate steps to take to help protect workers, provide needed support for customers, and reduce financial risk to their businesses. Using the above tips and going to the resource websites listed below can help you develop your coronavirus sweeping business management tool kit.

Here are some URLs for resource sites offering tools for communicating with customers, planning, taking advantage of disaster tax benefits, utilizing state-by-state small business financial resources, and more.

COVID-19 Information Resources for Small Business Owners:

CDC: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html
OSHA: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
SBA: https://www.sbc.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/9/7/97ac840c-28b7-4e49-b872-d30a995d8dae/F2CF1DD78E6D6C8C8C3BF58C6D1DDB2B.small-business-owner-s-guide-to-the-cares-act-final-.pdf
COC: https://www.uschamber.com/co/start/strategy/business-owner-tips-coronavirus-pandemic and https://www.uschamber.com/co/small-business-coronavirus

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