How to Start Your Small Business During a Pandemic​

by | Oct 23, 2020 | Business Advice, How To Articles

Heading toward the winter season, it’s becoming clear that we aren’t going to escape the pandemic anytime soon. Though in many respects we’ve learned how to go about our lives in safer and more protective ways, the virus remains a significant problem for individuals and businesses alike. And per an article on expert predictions by Vox, it’s likely that we’ll see a growing case count in the season ahead.

All of this makes for a bleak picture for an economy that’s still only just beginning to recover. But it also presents some perspective on our new reality: If the pandemic is going to be upon us for a while longer, it may be time to find ways to do some of the things you had initially planned to simply put on hold — like, potentially, starting your own small business.

This is not a suggestion that you should simply go about your life as usual, or neglect safety protocols. The more we adhere to expert guidance, the sooner we will escape the pandemic’s clutches. But so long as you can do so safely, it may be about time to start work on that small business, rather than trying to wait out the virus.

Of course, starting a small business in the midst of a pandemic comes with even more challenges than it would in ordinary times. But it’s for that reason that we’ve compiled a few ideas for how to go about it that may help you out.

Get Registered Online

One little bit of good news is that you can tackle the legal process of registering with the state online. ZenBusiness describes starting a Utah LLC as a process that can be “straightforward and affordable,” and which consists of only five steps. There are still important decisions to make — such as who will serve as the official registered agent on behalf of the business, and how you want to draw up your official Operating Agreement — but altogether you can get this done with minimal effort and no in-person contact.

As to why it’s important to address the matter of registering your business as an LLC early, we have two thoughts in mind. One is that it’s simply good to get the legal stuff out of the way early and focus on the finer points of your business thereafter. But the other is that once you’re official, you may be eligible for some of the COVID-related small business relief making the rounds — which brings us to our next point.

Explore Aid Packages

If you’re looking to start your small business now, with the pandemic still upon us, it’s important to take advantage of any and all aid packages that may be available to you. While many would like to have seen more assistance offered by state and federal government entities alike, there have been various packages put out in an attempt to help small businesses sustain themselves until society can ease back toward normal.

As an example of the sort of thing to look out for, we’d remind readers that Salt Lake County issued a $40 million grant program for small businesses just this past June. That fund was divided into $35,000 package for small businesses based on need, though importantly it was also only for businesses that had not already benefited from federal, state, or local COIVD relief.

Subsequent aid packages of this sort may or may not be announced in the coming months. They also may or may not include help for aspiring business owners, as opposed to existing ones. And that’s one of the reasons again that we emphasize registering your business on the sooner side. Once you’re established, you may have access to assistance you wouldn’t otherwise.

Emphasize Digital Operations & Security

It probably goes without saying that it’s important to build up a robust digital operation if you’re starting a business during a pandemic. Even if you are also looking to open up a brick-and-mortar location, chances are you won’t be able to do a full range of business from said location for several months yet. It is vital, therefore, to have an appealing and functioning website, a social media presence, and — assuming it works with your business model to some degree — an e-commerce platform.

Alongside digital operations though, it’s also important to focus on digital security. The Ogden Standard-Examiner discussed small business tech and made the interesting point that small businesses can actually be more attractive to cybercriminals, because they often don’t have the same security infrastructure that larger companies protect themselves with. For this reason it’s important to pay particular attention to your protection against spam, viruses, security lapses, and phishing scams while you’re particularly dependent on digital operations.

Market While You Can’t Do Much Else

When we looked at ‘6 Options for Coping with COVID’ we included points relating to communication, connection, and marketing — all of which are crucial when you’re starting up a business as well. In such a strange time for the small business economy, it may well prove particularly difficult to connect with the community, establish a customer base, and generally get the word out about your opening. But with the proper time and effort, you can make progress in these areas.

Particularly if you’re waiting a little while to ramp up operations due to the pandemic, we recommend using your time now to piece together a strong, multi-faceted marketing campaign.

Prioritize Customer Safety & Comfort

Last but not least, make sure you start your business with a comprehensive focus on customer safety and comfort. Even if we soon start to emerge from the pandemic, and consumers start to shop more frequently again, there is going to be a lingering sense of unease. Addressing that unease with safe and protective policies is the responsible thing to do, and it’s also going to be an excellent way to earn trust in the early days.

Your new business will appeal to consumers right off the bat.

Written by Anna Lisa Winter
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