How To Prepare For An Uncertain Future

Jennifer McCluskey

Things are slowly, at least in New York state, starting to get back to “normal” or at least semi-functional. However, what I am hearing over and over again from my business clients is, “How do I plan for the future when I don’t know what it will bring?” This is especially a question in communities used to having tourist dollars flowing in every summer. Some businesses are seeing regular customer levels, many are seeing fewer, and some are even seeing more customers than they did before. While it is very difficult to navigate these unclear waters, there are a few tips I can offer that hopefully might help. 

    First off, be careful with your plans. I’m sure you’ve realized this already, but you may have to cut back on business expansion plans you were originally planning for this year unless your business is in one of the few industries that are COVID-resistant. Cut costs where you can. This can be difficult in our area where businesses even before this were struggling, but maybe there is something you can do to decrease your financial burden. Possibly there are areas of waste or lack of profit in your business. 

    Talk to other business owners in your area, both in your industry and in related industries which serve similar customers. We are all in this together, and your fellow business owners may have ideas that you haven’t thought of which will make it easier for both of you to succeed. For example, if you are a retail business in a tourist area, talk to your local hotel owners, B&B owners, and Airbnb’s to find out how their bookings are going for the future to give yourself an idea of how customers may come in. 

    Make it easy for your customers to feel safe shopping in your store. Follow the regulations and rules as they pertain to your business. Make sure your employees are wearing their masks correctly. I have seen several posts going around Facebook of people giving shout outs to businesses who are doing it right, and commenting about ones that are not. If your employees are having difficulties breathing in their masks, possibly look into face shields or one of the newer kinds of masks that are coming out made from better materials. 

    If you haven’t done it yet, get your business online, especially if you have a product to sell. Customers are even less likely than before to shop in person. If you can make it easy for them to order pick up or purchase online, this will make them more likely to shop with you. If you have questions about how to get online or the best way to get your products or services in front of your customers, you can talk to us at the SBDC. 

    Your SBDC business advisor can help, especially if you would like to do budget projections to see different scenarios based on different levels of customers. Or if you just need a listening ear to discuss your own business uncertainty. As always, we are free and confidential, and working as hard as we can to help your business get through this difficult time.  

      You can reach the SUNY Canton SBDC at (315) 386-7312, SUNY Canton SBDC at Clinton Community College at (518) 324-7232, or the Watertown SBDC at JCC (315) 782-9262.