Lives and livelihoods are being disrupted by COVID-19. Businesses are shut and down, staff releases and job loss are rampant, with lockdowns globally and only a handful of businesses operating from home. Indeed these are hard and unprecedented times.

According to FEMA, 40% of businesses fail after a natural disaster, with a quarter of them failing within a year. Already, sectors like travel and hospitality have been hard hit with analysts predicting it could take a decade for the global economy to recover.

To help cushion the effects of COVID-19 on small businesses, some companies are giving away their paid tools for free or cheap. By taking advantage of this opportunity you can ensure business continuity and overcome the disruption that comes with times like this.

In this post, we will discuss what is business continuity, the importance of business continuity, and highlight some of the companies giving away freebies to help small businesses cope with the impact of COVID-19 and remain in business long after.

So,

What is Business Continuity?

Business continuity refers to the ability of an organization to maintain core business functions and operations during and after a disaster. The goal is uninterrupted business operations. It is the equivalent of an emergency response plan.

The concept of working from home is now trending as an effective response to the lockdown due to COVID-19.

Here’s a Google Trends chart showing how work from home has trended in the last half-decade:

google  with COVID-19
Source: Google Trends

This year, there’s been a major spike in interest in working from home both for business and income continuity, a win-win for businesses.

This is just one instance of business continuity measures.

Now,

Importance of Business Continuity Plan

With a business continuity plan in place, you can

  • Survive disasters
  • Mitigate risks
  • Prevent disruption
  • Embolden staff
  • Sustain job security
  • Maintain financial stability
  • Maintain financial viability
  • Reassure investors
  • Emerge stronger
  • Remain in business, etc

How to Implement Business Continuity ASAP

COVID-19 has caught many SMBs off guard. Thankfully, most governments are implementing palliatives like the CARES Act in the USA. However, you need more than intervention funds to remain in business.

Start by identifying your niche and your core business processes. Will the absence of physical staff, power, or the internet for a day impact your business negatively? How severely?

You should involve your staff and key personnel in this process.

Next, develop a plan, just in case, that answers these questions:

  • What are our core business areas, processes?
  • What will happen if each goes down for 24 hours?
  • How much in time and money will this cost us?
  • What can we do in the meantime if there’s a disaster?
  • How long will it take to recover?
  • Who is in charge of the emergency response team?
  • Have we done any emergency preparedness drills of late?
  • Are all staff familiar with the emergency protocol?

These are some questions to guide you when creating a business continuity plan.

Speaking of which, here are

Some Companies Facilitating Business Continuity for SMBs with COVID-19 Giveaways

While some influencers are organizing COVID-19 online giveaways, these companies are targeting SMBs and helping them stay in business while staying home.

Read More: Forex Trading: Do’s and Don’ts During A Virus Pandemic

1. Google

The Menlo Park tech giant has also rolled out freebies to support SMBs, governments, institutions, health workers, and other frontliners in the war against COVID-19. According to Google, “we want to help SMBs stay in touch with their customers during these challenging times.” This is one of the ways to ensure customer retention.

Google is giving SMBs worldwide, $340 million in ad credits to be used in future ad spend across all Google Ads platform, throughout 2020. If you use Google Ads, this can go a long way to sustain and expand your current ads efforts.

Google homepage is also encouraging people to stay at home and play with popular past Google Doodles to beat the boredom.

Google is giving SMBs worldwide
Source: Google

Google is also rolling out a feature that allows you to add structured data to COVID-19 announcements like shelter-in-place announcements, closure notices, etc. This is still in beta testing.

2. Shopify

Shopify is a world-class ecommerce platform providing cutting-edge ecommerce solutions to online retailers and dropshippers. It is the most popular ecommerce platform.

In the spirit of the COVID-19 giveaway, the ecommerce company is extending its trial period from 14 days to a whopping 90 days. New sign-ups now have up to three months to test run Shopify.

Shopify covid19 giveway
Source: Shopify

Shopify is also giving away $200 million in small business funding, free email marketing for all plans, local pickup, and delivery, gift cards for all plans and customers, Shopify Shipping to print labels at home, etc.

With 90 days to try and tons of other freebies, now is the best time to start that dropshipping business.

3. Microsoft

Microsoft COVID-19
Source: Microsoft

The software giant Microsoft is also giving away a ton of freebies to help businesses impacted by COVID-19. One of such interventions is Microsoft Teams. As teams increasingly embrace remote work, Microsoft is making sure that workers stay safe, stay home, stay connected, and stay productive during this lockdown.

According to Microsoft, Teams is part of Office 365 package. Office 365 A1 offer is free for students and education professionals.  Office 365 E1 offers free access to businesses for six months. The freemium version allows unlimited chat, groups, audio and video calling, 10GB of team storage plus 2GB for personal storage, among others.

Users can now access the Yammer app via Teams. Yammer is a community management tool that helps teams connect, communicate, and engage. Microsoft is also helping in the areas of Community Support, Education and Family, Technical Support, and Research and Academia.

4. UberSuggest

According to Neil Patel, Ubersuggest is now more free.

UberSuggest
Source: Ubersuggest

This is in response to the economic crunch brought about by the lockdown due to COVID-19. It is a welcome development to solopreneurs and small business owners.

Ubersuggest is an all-in-one SEO tool used by businesses and individuals to improve SEO and traffic. By making it freer, users can now access historical data for free as well as traffic estimates, more keywords, more content ideas, and top pages,

Paying subscribers also get bi-weekly training, weekly action plan, on-demand help and support, Ultimate SEO course, and private Facebook Group membership to enhance the Ubersuggest user experience.

Conclusion

Let us know which of these tools, products or features you will be using to grow your small business during this lockdown.

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