Opening back up for business after Covid
What are the things we should think about as business owners when we open our doors back up for business?
As I write this I am thinking about all the challenges that lay ahead for small business owners. What are the things they were going through before Covid, what did they suffer through with shelter in place and what should they be thinking about as they open back up. Our lens at SynkBooks will be through the lens of people that work in technology, finance, tax law, bookkeeping, and accounting compliance.
Small businesses before Covid:
In our experience here at SynkBooks we are able to see the challenges that small businesses face first hand with our clients. The luxury of being a startup like SynkBooks is that we know all of our clients, we have met them, we have done tutorials with them and we know their struggles. All of our clients get a walk through of our AI bookkeeping software. This introduction with our clients has allowed SynkBooks to learn about our client’s business needs. Some of the challenges that we saw small businesses struggling with are compliance (for example, accounting, entity formation, taxes, etc), bargaining power, qualifying for loans, work life balance, Human Resources, and the list goes on.
Many people in America have a dream to become a business owner, until they become a business owner. Don’t get us wrong! The dream is amazing and it is very rewarding, but it is extremely exhausting. It is a 24/7 job whether you own a donut shop, a law firm or an amazon ecommerce business, it is exhausting. However, it is the American dream and we are all proud of things we produce or the services we provide. We will talk about the top 3 issues small businesses face from personal and business experience.
- A common issue that we saw and continue to see are small businesses that are not compliant in different aspects of their businesses. They haven’t filed proper paperwork with the Secretary of State, their payroll is behind, or they just haven’t done any bookkeeping in years. Not being in compliance can really drag a business down and create unnecessary fees, costs and administrative time. Time that takes away from your core business.
- Small business owners don’t really have a collective outside of some organizations like chambers of commerce or similar types of organizations. The lack of bargaining power is what makes small businesses unable to negotiate better terms in their favor, whether it's a lease, cost of goods, utilities, etc. At SynkBooks we are creating some leverage for small businesses in order to empower small businesses in the future. A feature that is in the works, but we saw the issue and plan to do something about it.
- Many small businesses saw issues with properly categorizing their workers as employees or independent contractors, following proper rest and meal breaks guidelines, correct hourly rates and so on. There is an opportunity for some reorganization and an opportunity for small businesses to rethink the way they were doing things as they were just trying to survive to stay open. There is an opportunity to reinvent your business in a new light moving forward.
Small Businesses during Covid:
When the SBA (Small Business Association) announced many of their programs to save small businesses we led many tutorials with our SynkBooks clients to help them get those PPP and EIDL loans. We spent countless hours helping our clients get their bookkeeping up to date, filling out SBA forms, and so on. What did we see? That business owners are resilient, creative, fighters and ready for challenges. These challenges aren’t going to crush us, it is going to make us stronger and better. We are here to fight with our clients and those that aren’t our clients. It will be a new paradigm, but it is one we can conquer together. We will discuss 2 pivots that we saw 1) shift in business operations and 2) use of technology.
- Some of our clients and others we heard about adapted to the shelter in place orders. We had restaurants doing their own deliveries, restaurants selling groceries, bakeries selling household items for example, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc, we had groomers giving live tutorials online teaching their clients how to wash their pets, writers selling their work as PDFs and so on. The point is that businesses needed to pivot from what they were originally doing and they are resilient with the execution.
- Other companies that did not normally use technology began to do so. Not necessarily changing their business operations, but now providing the services they normally only do in person online. I heard of doctors, lawyers, therapists and accountants using technology to meet with their clients via Zoom, Skype or Google Meet. Restaurants that did not normally deliver food, began to use some of the popular delivery services (those company’s business tactics are a hot debate right now so I will not mention them). A lot of innovation to survive.
I go back to my earlier point, we as a country are resilient and it takes a lot of grit to pivot and adjust for hard times. We are getting through this.
Small Businesses after Covid:
So where do we go from here? What should small businesses be thinking about as they open back up? I don’t think anyone knows, including the government. The government has provided some small businesses with loans, some grants, some breathing room, but that is only temporary. The government has provided almost daily guidance on how those loans are to be used and repaid, sometimes contradicting what borrowers assumed the loans were for. Landlords still want their money and so do creditors and vendors.
Small businesses will need to be able to renegotiate terms of their liabilities, whether leases, loans or financing agreements. No one is promised the business they had before and they may need some time to build back up. This is why it is hard to witness small businesses with no bargaining power. If one small business can’t pay their loan back the lender will foreclose, but if 100 small businesses can’t pay their loan back then the banks may be a bit more open to restructuring deals. We hope to use our SynkBooks technology to build communities with strong bargaining power in the future.
Small businesses will also need to understand what guidance their state employment agency and federal Department of Labor provide for employees to safely return to work (I have added a hyperlink to the Department of Labor). Health and safety is number one for everyone and small businesses will be very concerned with how they will safely reopen and keep their employees safe.
Other potential issues can be employees not wanting to return to work. We have personally heard and read about employees that would rather stay on unemployment than return to work creating a big wrench in businesses trying to open back up. We all know as business owners that having to hire and train new employees is a huge burden. We implore you as small businesses to please do your own research and learn about technology regarding human resources in order to help you now and in the future.
Finally, stay innovative. The next few months will be strange and unprecedented. We have never gone through anything like this as a modern society so be alert and ready for change. We are here for you, even if you are not our client please feel free to send a message to the SynkBooks email in contact us. We are trying to help everyone because we want everyone to succeed. Keep fighting!