5 Tips for Keeping Your Business Afloat During COVID-19

Two people in the foreground discuss ideas for keeping their business afloat during COVID-19. Another person works on their laptop in the background.

Many businesses are laying off employees or shutting
doors, at least temporarily during the coronavirus pandemic. Only you
can make the decision about what’s right for your business—and you should do so
in consultation with business experts such as CPA advisers or business coaches.
You’ll also want to make sure that you are following the guidelines established
by your local government.

But if you’re looking for ways to weather the storm,
consider these five tips for keeping your business afloat during COVID-19.

1. Offer Delivery

For many businesses, a lack of foot traffic is crushing
cash flow. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have products that others want and
need. During this time when many people are unable or afraid to leave their
homes, you can continue to meet consumer demand by offering delivery.

Many restaurants are already waiving delivery fees or
making deliveries when they didn’t previously. This technique could be
especially lucrative if you offer products, such as books, games, movies or
crafts, that can make quarantine life easier for others.

If delivery isn’t an option, consider contactless curbside
service. Let people buy items online or reserve them over the phone or via chat
service and pick them up without getting out of their cars.

2. Create a Subscription Box

Even before COVID-19, the market was enamored with subscription boxes. In fact, 54% of online shoppers had at least one subscription in October 2019, and many shoppers had more than one. Businesses that can put together a weekly, monthly or quarterly box for patrons can create stable cash flow throughout the COVID-19 stay-at-home period—and beyond.

Think about what you offer, what people might need or want
on a regular basis and how you can put it together in themed boxes. Consider
meal, beverage, home salon, self-care, craft, entertainment and education kits.
Such subscriptions can help build customer loyalty and maintain cash flow.

3. Scale Down  

In some states, nonessential businesses have been
required to close their doors. In others, businesses can remain open as long as
they can maintain social distancing or allow no more than 10 people on the
premises at a time. Consider whether you can scale your business down to
accommodate smaller crowds.

One way any type of store can help ensure smaller numbers and social distancing is offering shop-by-appointment options. Invest in an appointment tracking software that lets people make appointments on your website and then arrive at the store during their allotted time period.

Creative tips for keeping your business afloat during
COVID-19 like this can actually have two benefits. First, they allow you to
generate some revenue. Second, they let you get to know more customers better,
which can be a boost for future sales.

4. Review Support Options

Make sure you’re leveraging all potential funding and relief sources. If your company qualifies as a small business, you may be able to seek a small business stimulus loan. Some of these loans are being offered through the Small Business Administration and its partners and others are being offered by traditional banks.

If you have an existing relationship with an SBA Express Lender, you may be able to get an Express Bridge Loan. The SBA is also offering some debt relief for businesses with current microloans or 7(a) or 504 loans.

The Paycheck Protection Program

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was created to provide small businesses with the funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs. The fund—$349 billion—ran out in just thirteen days. The Senate has approved additional funding of $310 billion, which includes $30 billion specifically for community lenders and credit unions. The money must be used to pay employees, rent, utilities or mortgage interest. Approved businesses that use the money as instructed and keep all employees on payroll for eight weeks don’t have to pay back the loan, as it’s designed to provide an incentive for businesses to keep workers on their payroll.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance

Qualifying small businessowners can get an advance up to $10,000 that doesn’t have to be repaid. You do have to apply for the loan and meet the eligibility requirements, which include financial distress and loss of revenue related to COVID-19. The SBA is not currently accepting new applications, but keep an eye on potential future funding.

5. Take Out a Small Business or Personal Loan

Not everyone qualifies for the stimulus loans, and in some cases, that relief may not keep your business afloat during COVID-19 on its own. You might consider leveraging your business or personal credit history for a loan, especially if you have good credit.

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Find out if you qualify for a short-term personal or business loan. Because these types of loans are rarely secured, you can use the funds for anything—including paying your employees, covering bills and invoices or purchasing inventory and supplies.

If you’re planning to put one of the tips above into
action, you might need the temporary cash flow to fund the pivot in your
business model that helps you stay afloat during the pandemic.

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How to Create Your Own Retirement Plan

One of the good things of working for a company is that they create a retirement plan for you. As an employee, you don’t have to do anything else but to participate in the plan. However, when you’re self-employed or a small business owner, you’re responsible of setting up your own retirement plan.

When it comes to operating your own business, time is of the essence. However, even if you’re crazy busy, saving for retirement should be a priority. Indeed, a retirement account allows you to contribute pre-tax money, which lowers your taxable income.

Luckily, a financial advisor can help you save time and help you choose the right plan that is best for you. Below are four retirement saving options you can create as a self-employer individual.

1. Solo 401k

A solo 401k is for small businesses or sole proprietors who don’t have any employees other than a spouse working for the business. The solo 401k mirrors a typical 401k plan that most companies offer. The main difference is that you can contribute as an employee and employer.

In other words, because you’re both the boss and the worker, you get to contribute in each capacity. That in turn allows you to contribute a higher amount each year. However, your total yearly contributions cannot exceed $58,000 or $64,000 for individuals age 50 or older as of 2021. To set up a solo 401k, you have to get in touch with a financial institution.

2. SEP IRA

If you’re an independent contractor, self-employed, or has a small business with 25 employees or less you can set up a SEP (Simplified Employee Pension). It’s very easy to establish and don’t even require you to incorporate your business to qualify.

In a SEP IRA, the employer alone contributes to the fund, not the employees. You can contribute up to 25% of your annual salary or $58,000 in 2021, whichever is less.

3. Keogh Plan

Keogh plans are available to self-employed people, including sole proprietors who file Schedule C or a partnership whose members file Schedule E. This type of plan is preferable among those who have a high and stable income.

But the main advantage the Keogh has is the high maximum contribution you can make. In 2021, you can contribute up to $58,000. To set up, you will need to work with a financial institution such as Charles Schwab. 

4. Simple IRA

The Simple IRA was created by the Small Business Protection Act to help those who work at small companies to save for retirement. The small business can offer the plan if it has 100 or fewer employees.

Both the employer and the employee can contribute up to $13,000 in 2021, plus an additional catch-up amount of $3,000 if you’re 50 or older. If a company offers a Simple IRA, it must match an employee’s contribution dollar for dollar, up to 3% of each participant’s annual salary or make a nonelective 2% contribution to all employees.

Where to Invest Your Keogh, SEP IRA, Solo 401k, Simple IRA

As a small business owner, there is always an investment program that suits your needs for your IRA, SEP, Keogh and solo 401k. Places such as banks, brokerage firms and mutual funds institutions such as Vanguard, Fidelity, Charles Schwab are great options. But before opening account, make sure you consider how much money you have, your appetite for risks, the annual fee, etc.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a small business owner or self employed, you should take advantage of the tax benefits offered by these plans mentioned above. Creating a retirement plan is important, because not only will you be able to grow your retirement savings faster but also no one is going to do it for you. 

Related:

  • 4 Simple Ways to Accelerate Your Retirement Savings
  • How to Retire at 50:10 Easy Steps to Consider

Tips on Retirement Planning

Retirement planning can be a major challenge, but you don’t have to go in it alone. Speak with a financial advisor who can help you come up with a unique plan based on your circumstances and situations. Use SmartAsset advisor matching tool to get matched with fiduciary financial advisors in just 5 minutes.

 

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