Get All Access for $5/mo

Keep These 7 Strategies in Mind as You Reopen Your Business If you're set on staying open long term, it's time to develop plans to keep the doors open as effectively and consistently as possible

By John Boitnott Edited by Jessica Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

andresr | Getty Images

The current health crisis has created a feeling of whiplash for thousands of business owners across the U.S. Some reopened months ago, but a resurgence in the crisis meant many had to slow, or stop, operations again.

No matter your individual business situation, if you're set on staying open long term, it's time to develop plans to keep the doors open as effectively and consistently as possible. However, this will mean navigating some challenges and possibly rethinking how your company operates, especially early on. Keep the following strategies in mind.

Related: 4 Ways to Determine If Now Is the Right Time to Launch Your Business

1. Get creative with limitations

As states stop and start reopening over the course of the coming months, businesses will face limitations. Flexibility and creativity will be vital when getting your business started or restarted.

Before you begin envisioning your soft opening, check your state's regulations. Certain activities, like allowing staff to return to stores to fulfill orders, or permitting limited numbers of customers within the building, might be allowed. But those activities might also be paired with restrictions and requirements that you'll need to follow. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's reopening guidance makes it easy to access your state's timelines and reopening information.

Once you know your state's requirements, have a brainstorming session with your leadership staff to create a plan that lets you follow those requirements. Be sure to check your state's website frequently or sign up for email updates and alerts so that you're aware if conditions change.

2. Define your vision

When it's time to start or restart operating again, your business might look vastly different than it did before the health crisis. You may need to offer limited services or products to save money, or it may be wise to pivot and restructure your company significantly. Reassess your business with the current economic climate and your local customers in mind.

As you develop a vision for your business, you may need to write a new business plan. You'll rely on that new plan for guidance as you plan your reopening and your business' development afterward.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Nobody Can Write Your Business Plan Better Than You

3. Openly communicate with employees

While you might not yet have a definite date for your soft open, you'll still need to communicate openly – and frequently – with your employees. If your team members have been laid off, it's time to check in with them and describe, as best as you can, what you can offer them in terms of hours, positions and pay. Ask your workers both now and closer to your launch if they are planning on returning to their jobs.

Be prepared to learn that some employees might be unable or unready to return to work. Some might not yet feel safe, while others may be facing new challenges of having to care for children who are out of school. Workers who receive lower pay might have been making more on unemployment because of the $600 per week federal unemployment add-on. That may or may not continue on into the future. Be prepared to act quickly to fill staff vacancies.

4. Do a social distancing check

Depending on your business, one of the most significant challenges in preparing for a reopening may be implementing social distancing. This is the time to start designing your business practices with social distancing measures in mind. Making some changes can help to keep your customers and staff safer:

  • Consider whether staff can continue to work from home.
  • Implement barriers and restructuring now, so you have time to adjust and redesign.
  • Think about how you'll handle challenging areas like bathrooms and hallways.
  • Develop a sanitation plan and consider whether staff can or should wear protective equipment.

Related: Why You Should Speed Up Your Digital Transformation During the Crisis

5. Check in with vendors

Your business may be ready to open, but your vendors may not yet be back in operation. Determine the items, sizes and dates of each order that you'll need as you ramp up again. Then, contact your vendors to confirm that they'll be able to fill your current and future orders.

Don't forget about the new items that you'll need, like personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer. Your current vendors may be able to supply these items, or you may need to get resourceful in identifying new vendors for these and other needs. If your soft opening supply needs are too small to meet your vendors' required minimum order sizes, connect with other local businesses to see if you can go in on an order together. This strategy can help to keep your out-of-pocket costs down while allowing you to still take advantage of the lower bulk purchase pricing.

6. Start building publicity

While minimizing costs is essential, work to retain your marketing and publicity budget. Building awareness around your reopening efforts can be vital to its success, but that will take time and resources. Start developing a marketing and publicity plan now so that you and your customers know your timeline for reopening and are ready when it happens.

7. Be flexible

We're in unprecedented times, and even with detailed planning and work ahead of time, you'll probably still face unforeseen challenges as you reopen. You'll need to be flexible and ready to adjust as situations change and challenges arise. Approach your company with this in mind and encourage your employees to adopt this same mindset as you negotiate the changing landscape of running your business during the crisis.

Related: How to Reward Employees in Uncertain Times

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

She Grew Her Side Hustle Sales From $0 to Over $6 Million in Just 6 Months — and an 'Old-School' Mindset Helped Her Do It

Cynthia Sakai, designer and founder of the luxury personal care company evolvetogether, felt compelled to help people during the pandemic.

Business Ideas

Free Webinar | July 18: How to Design, Manufacture and Sell Your Product Idea

Join us for our webinar with Jordan Nathan, founder of the kitchenware brand Caraway. Jordan will share the strategies he used to develop, manufacture and sell his products that grew Caraway's annual revenue by over 500% in just 4 years. Register now!

Business News

A Microsoft-Partnered AI Startup Is Being Sued By the Biggest Record Labels in the World

The company is allegedly profiting from AI without compensating the human work that fed the technology, the lawsuit says.

Business News

Costco's CEO Says This Product Is the 'Most Important Item We Sell'

Ron Vachris stepped into the CEO role at Costco after more than 40 years at the company. He began as a forklift driver.

Growing a Business

Take This Radical Approach to Customer Retention to Boost Employee Morale — And Your Profit

Customer retention has never been more important to an organization's bottom line, but achieving it means doubling down on the connection between employees and customers. Here's why it works, and how to get there.

Business News

This Airline Is Now Ranked Best in the World, According to a New Report

Skytrax released its ranking of the world's best airlines for 2024.