Updated: March 20, 2020
Plan. Prepare. Don’t panic. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, you’ve hopefully heard this advice from the CDC, global health experts, your local public service agencies — but what exactly does it mean for neighborhood businesses?
We worked with leading small business organizations to compile the following top tips to help you in your preparations.
1. STAY UP TO DATE: To make sure you have the most updated information, stay tuned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site, which also offers an infectious disease outbreak response plan for businesses. If your business also has an international presence with employees outside of the US, refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) site.
2. UPDATE YOUR BUSINESS PLAN: Amend your plan to deal with disruptions to your business operations. Pay particular attention to your cash flow during this period. Be ready to implement new strategies to safeguard your employees, customers, and business partners as best you can, whether exploring alternative suppliers, making changes to production, or considering digital over in-person meetings. Update customers of any contingency plans you have in place, or if there will be issues or delays in your products or services.
Additionally, the federal government has given indications that it plans to take measures to support local businesses. Check the SBA site for updates and more information. Here, you can also find details on the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans programs, which are made available to eligible states.
3. PREPARE YOUR EMPLOYEES: The CDC recommends that, “during a Covid-19 outbreak, all sick employees should stay home and away from the workplace, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene should be encouraged, and routine cleaning of commonly touched surfaces should be performed regularly.” If your business has employees, explore policies and practices to keep them safe from potential exposure. Share relevant processes, like sickness reporting, or a plan in case someone in the workplace develops the virus.
4. SHARE YOUR PLAN WITH CUSTOMERS: To alleviate concerns around coronavirus, share what measures you are taking in the interest of your community’s health. Display your plan at your business location and/or on your marketing channels, like e-mail, website, or social. The CDC recommends using a hospital-grade cleaning solution or taking additional steps like more frequent disinfecting as an extra precaution.
5. GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS AND FELLOW BUSINESSES: Localized community response can be critical, so talk with your neighbors and local customers (particularly the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions) about neighborhood emergency planning. Share your plan with other local businesses in your communities, especially those in your supply chain.
6. IDENTIFY HELP IN YOUR COMMUNITY: Local authorities will have a pulse on neighborhood conditions and will be able to respond quickest in a time of need. Take the time now to learn about plans in place in your communities and share yours. Log in to your Nextdoor personal account to find local government partners, and enable push notifications to receive real-time updates and Emergency Alerts from them.
As the situation unfolds, refer to this list of resources for the latest updates and how your local business can prepare. We will continually update this list as we find new programs, tools, and resources made available to small businesses.
For real-time information about the virus:
For strategies and considerations for an outbreak response plan:
For financial assistance for impacted small businesses:
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Forbes - List Of Banks Offering Relief To Customers Affected By Coronavirus
For ways to identify sources of exposure and prevent worker spread: