It's understandable: You want to reopen your business as quickly as possible. If you run a small business, it may be your only source of revenue, and you probably don't have big cash reserves.
However, that doesn't mean you should reopen. Reopening too early could endanger customers, lead to legal action, and damage your business's reputation.
If you've watched some businesses reopen and felt the temptation to do so yourself, here are five telltale signs you should reconsider.
1. Cases are still rising
Many businesses are throwing open their doors again, but the reality is that now, in late July, we’re actually worse off in terms of total cases in the United States than we were in May. After a slow decline in cases early this summer, reopenings have sent cases skyrocketing again, with no end in sight.
That’s not the case for every state, so if you live in an area where cases are declining, or practically nonexistent, then you can think about carefully reopening. But if the virus is spreading unchecked in your community, it’s unwise to risk the safety of your customers by reopening simply because you don’t want to wait any longer.
2. You aren't familiar with state and local requirements for reopening
Many states and localities have set specific conditions for reopening your business. If you don't review them and just open your doors, you might get shut down again. You may even incur fines or other penalties that set you even further back.
Before you even consider opening your doors again, you need to familiarize yourself with all the conditions for reopening. Is your business even eligible? What kind of cleaning routine are you expected to have?
How many customers can you have in your business at once? By first understanding these conditions, you'll be able to determine whether your store is capable of meeting them.
Consult an attorney before setting a date for reopening to ensure you've met all the regulations.
3. Your employees don't feel safe
Even if you feel ready, the people on the front lines of your business — your employees — may not. It is not wise to force employees who feel unsafe being in close contact with customers to come back to work; it sends a message that you don't care about their safety or mental health.
Consult with your employees over video to talk through their safety concerns and work out a plan to mitigate them. Also, discuss your plans with your human resources department and perhaps an attorney specializing in employment to be sure you’re not assuming an unnecessary liability.
4. You already tried reopening, and customers didn’t return
In some states, businesses tried reopening in May only to shut down again when there was a resurgence of the virus. If you found that customers didn’t return to the store at previous levels the first time you reopened, don’t expect them to come rushing back now.
Even if your state allows you to reopen, most people are still worried about the virus. Their habits have likely changed permanently.
Instead, focus on adjusting your business model in a way that allows you to reopen partially or serve customers remotely. This allows you to avoid expensive errors like hiring a bunch of waiters for a restaurant that you won’t be able to fill.
5. Your software isn’t set up to handle the new reality
If you’ve been using pen and paper, spreadsheets, or some basic software to manage your business, you’re probably not ready to manage the increasing complexity of your business now that you have to factor in extra details like keeping customers separated, instituting new hygiene protocols for your staff, making deliveries, and managing cleaning supplies.
No matter what business you're in, advanced software can make your life easier when you’re ready to reopen your business.
While you’re waiting out the pandemic, take advantage of the extra time on your hands and check out some of The Blueprint’s reviews of the top business software in your industry. Try out a few solutions to see how they can help you improve your business management.
Now’s the time to grow as a business
If you’ve come to realize it’s not time to reopen, take heart: This could be a golden opportunity to sit down and plan a new future for your business that will take you to a new era of success. Use this time wisely.