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A 7-Step Plan to Keep Your Business Afloat Through the Pandemic⁠—According to a Risk Management Expert

The escalating coronavirus pandemic has been rapidly affecting businesses all over the world. Most have been forced to scale back with lockdowns in place to flatten the curve, but others, unfortunately, had to shut down entirely.

The number of U.S. businesses that closed as of March 23 is 40% more than the figure on the same date in January, based on real-time analytics by scheduling site Homebase. Small business owners are yet to see a silver lining to this crisis. According to a recent report from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) that was released on March 23, about 76% of them are negatively affected by the coronavirus outbreak; an increase of 23% from 10 days ago.

Business operations have been disrupted by the public health crisis

Businesses are waiting for more clarity on what the local and national governments can do for support and until when the mass lockdowns will last. But in the meantime, risk management expert Nicholas Bahr says that there are strategies that they can do to prepare themselves for reopening after all these.

Having helped businesses navigate through geopolitical, terror, and climate risks for 35 years, Bahr says that now is the apt time to turn risks into opportunities. He notes this 7-step plan for enterprises to achieve this.

Prepare for the immediate aftermath

1. Care about your people

Make sure to communicate with your employees robustly and frequently. Empathize with them and understand how this affects their personal lives. Also, try to reassure them whenever possible by telling them how you plan to give them support through these tough times.

2. Set up a governance system

To streamline your decision-making process, set up a governance system that focuses on the data rather than emotions. This involves 3 levels: the immediate, medium-term, and long-term. The immediate level involves the people and your day-to-day business. The medium-term is how you deal with potential lay-offs and cash conversion. While the long-term tackle the risk of a major economic impact.

3. Assess the risks

For those who already have a risk assessment, you may have to set up a new one because that may no longer be suitable during this situation. Focus on safety measures, hygiene, and how you can safeguard humans, finances, operations, and technology during this pandemic.

4. Develop an external communications plan

Bahr emphasizes that trust is your biggest commodity during a crisis. So, make sure to provide reassurance to the general public, customers, and stakeholders that you are taking steps to help fight the outbreak⁠—and even helping in any way you can. Social media is not only a great platform for external communication, but you can also get ideas from your customers.

Communicate with your external stakeholders and customers

5. Evaluate the supply chains

Assess whether your customers remain customers and know what they want and need from you. From there, you can talk to suppliers about what they can offer while still being cautious if they are over-promising. If you’re tight on cash, try to find ways to barter your products or services with others.

6. Go over operational risks

Look over the state of all the aspects of your business operations like kitchens or factories. Are these good to go once business goes back to normal? Come up with a pre-start checklist that you can tick off for your assessment.

7. Be productive during your downtime

With businesses scaling back on operations, owners may have spare time on their hands. Try to make the most out of it by developing new ideas for your services and procedures. Involve your staff in the process to help them feel valued and productive.

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