Mark Martinez

Mark Martinez

As the economy continues to open and many small businesses start back up and begin to bring their employees back to work, one thing comes to mind – are we really getting back to normal?

The answer is it depends because, we are now entering a new normal of how business is conducted. Depending on the businesses operations, many have had to become innovative and conduct business in ways that they had not done so before.

Restaurants and other types of businesses converted to curbside pickup, deliveries, solely utilizing drive-thrus. There were even businesses in the area, who did not have drive-thrus and decided to get creative and add one to their buildings.

Many small business owners have also gone to selling their products online, utilizing Facebook Shop, Shopify and revamping their websites to include ecommerce. Other service-based businesses have gone to working remotely, utilizing Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

As small businesses reopen in different phases, it does not mean that it is business as usual and you can do things as they were done prior to COVID-19, because changes will be inevitable. Everything has changed around us, and we must learn to adapt.

As a senior business advisor for the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center, I always stress to clients and others that planning is a very important job function in any business’ day-to-day operations. As in our personal lives, we plan for all types of events so why wouldn’t you plan in business as well.

Management is about planning, organizing, leading and controlling. So, in the case of COVID-19 it is my recommendation that you plan for a reopening that is safe for you, your employees and your customers following the CDC’s recommendations.

What I also recommend is that you create a COVID-19 plan or policy of how you will reopen and operate going forward. This plan does not have to be a long drawn out plan, but rather a five to 10 bullet point process that everyone can understand and follow. Make sure you share your plan with staff and customers so there is no confusion of how business will be conducted.

You can share your plan in person with staff and through social media for customers to see, for example. I always stress to clients to put yourself in the customers’ shoes and what you would like to see the business doing that would make you feel safe conducting business there.

As a small business owner, you must be willing to adapt and change, no matter the situation. Change can be hard and many of us don’t like change, but we manage and continue moving forward. As I see businesses reopening the businesses that are willing to make changes due to COVID-19 will be the businesses that will see success. Be sure as a small business owner that you plan properly for the future of your business, and to find ways to be innovative, which we have seen some businesses already do.

I have seen small businesses shift to making face masks, even service-based businesses like plumbers sanitizing the area of the home they are working in all the way out the door for example. Little changes will go a long way.

Our center seeks to reach out to all small businesses in our eleven-county region. For more information, contact the UHV-SBDC at 361-485-4485, or sbdc@uhv.edu. Mark Martinez, MS-EDE is a Certified Sr. Business Advisor with the UHV- SBDC and can be contacted at martinezma9@uhv.edu.

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