When the COVID-19 pandemic caused parts of America to lock down last spring, many businesses were directly and swiftly impacted.
Some businesses needed to pivot on short notice to safely keep their doors open and provide customers with the products and services they expected and needed. Others began to plan for when they could open again under much different guidelines than before.
The result was fundamental changes to how businesses operated. Business leaders adapted. They peered through a different lens to not only see what their business is, but what it would need to become.
They also needed to find new ways to maintain cash flow to make it all work, and we can all learn from how they did it.
They changed with their customers’ needs
Early in the pandemic, many businesses changed what they produced or sold. Manufacturers began making masks, distilleries switched to making hand sanitizer.
Dining establishments pivoted to change their offerings, whether they adjusted their menus for a better take out experience or shifting to become a curbside, local grocery.
These changes to business models helped keep cash flowing into businesses, and more than half (54%) of businesses surveyed in a new WSFS Bank study experienced growth due to operations changes.
Making changes like these on the fly is not easy, and many businesses continue to struggle with these challenges. Business leaders have had to dig deep and find the right mix that works for their employees’ and their own short and long-term needs.
They leaned on established relationships
The survey also revealed that nearly half (46%) of businesses said their bank helped them get loans during the pandemic, including Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, and four in 10 (41%) reported that their bank offered loan deferrals.
These options helped open cash flow for businesses to ensure they could get the goods and services needed to keep operating in a constantly changing environment.
This access to capital strengthened many businesses’ relationships with their banking partners, but the survey also revealed that nearly one-quarter (23%) still have concerns about their cash flow needs.
It’s crucial that business leaders continue an open dialog with their banks, accountants, community business development organizations and other partners, including their customers and employees, to help meet their unique cash flow needs.
They adapted with the present and future in mind
The operational changes made by businesses largely contribute to a positive outlook for the next several months. During the pandemic, most businesses (88%) have changed the way they operate, and nearly all of them (89%) are likely to retain their new operating models.
Meanwhile, business leaders recognize the challenges ahead, especially the possibility of a pandemic resurgence, but their nimbleness, relationships and new operational models have nine in 10 (91%) feeling prepared to weather another storm.
For communities, the confidence and resiliency of businesses is a welcome source of strength for the months ahead.
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