Small business owners like you are no stranger to the ebbs and flows of running a business—especially now while you’re navigating the new normal and perhaps experiencing slower-than-usual sales. The goods news is, any downtime you’re experiencing right now gives you plenty of opportunity to stay productive, keep top of mind for your customers, and more. With that, here are 4 ways to productively use downtime during COVID-19.
1. Get your finances in order
A great way to use this downtime effectively is to get your business finances in order. This means looking at your financial statements to get a firm grasp of your cash flows, and to see where you could cut costs and/or invest in growth. Not only that, you can start a business emergency fund, prepare for PPP loan forgiveness, and optimize your business banking.
Get an emergency fund
Emergency or “rainy day” funds provide businesses with a safety net of cash to lean on during economic downturns, cover unexpected expenses and/or last-minute investment opportunities, and more. A common rule of thumb for emergency funds is to set aside at least six months worth of revenue. Or, you could open a flexible line of credit. With BlueVine’s Business Line of Credit, you draw only what you need and pay only for what you use—and there are no monthly maintenance fees to keep your account active, so there’s really nothing to lose.
Prepare for PPP loan forgiveness
If you received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, you could start preparing for PPP loan forgiveness. Depending on when you received funding, you’ll apply for forgiveness with either an 8-week or 24-week covered period. In either case, you’ll need to prove that you used your PPP funding to keep or re-hire employees and to cover necessary operating expenses like mortgage and utilities. Even though you don’t need to actually apply for forgiveness now, you can start gathering necessary documentation to prove your PPP loan forgiveness eligibility. To learn more, check out our guides on PPP loan forgiveness and when to apply for it.
Optimize business baking
As you’re evaluating your business finances, you might discover that you’re paying a lot in banking fees and not earning significant interest on your account balance. If you want to make the most of every dollar you earn, you might want to consider a business bank that offers no fees and high interest, like BlueVine Business Checking.
BlueVine Business Checking was designed specifically for small businesses. In fact, 800 small business owners told us that they want a bank with flexibility and transparency, so we created a flexible and transparent Business Checking account for you. There are no monthly or hidden fees, no transaction limits or minimum balance requirements, and 1.00% interest (the highest of any business checking account on the market today). To learn more or open an account for free, visit www.bluevine.com/checking.
2. Update your digital presence
Once your finances are in order, you can spend your downtime updating your digital presence. We recommend conducting an audit of your website and social media accounts to make sure your information is up to date. Be sure to post your safety protocols so your customers know they can safely walk through your doors and/or use your products or service.
If you have a blog, consider writing new posts so you can continue adding value to your customers while they make their own adjustments to the new normal. You can then use these posts to create micro content for your social media accounts and further deepen engagement with your followers.
3. Touch base with your customers
It’s safe to say that we’re all looking for more connection these days. Regardless of your line of business, you can help offer that connection. For example, create an email and/or social media campaign asking your customers how they’re doing, providing an update on your business, and seeing if there’s anything they need beyond your products or service.
We’re spending more and more time online right now, so you can expect a lot of engagement from your followers as you post to your business’s Facebook account, use Instagram, send emails, and more. At the end of the day, such outreach is a great way to establish trust with your customers and stay top of mind for them between purchases. You’d be surprised how far a simple “How’s it going?” email can go. Give it a try!
4. Take care of yourself
Last but not least, you should focus some of your downtime on your own self care. As a small business owner, you wear several hats and seemingly do all the things to keep your business running—in turn, you have less time than the average person to focus on yourself. Not to mention, 2020 has been an extremely stressful year. All this to say, your physical and mental health finally deserve some attention.
We encourage you to take advantage of this slow season to focus on you. While it’s not the best or easiest time to travel or, say, indulge in a spa day, you could spend time on an old or new hobby, safely connect with loved ones, catch up on your favorite TV show, spend time in nature, etc. Self care looks different for each of us, so think about what you love to do, and spend quality time actually doing it.
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