Experts warn that 1 in 5 small businesses will need to close if the economy doesn’t improve in the next 6 months. 60% of businesses that closed up shop because of the pandemic will not be reopening. These are worrying statistics, especially since small businesses are the backbone of economies. They help provide jobs for people who may not be employed by bigger corporations, they make up almost half of U.S. economic activity, and they bring innovation and growth to their communities.
There is no denying that small businesses are the lifeblood of the American economy, and we need to do all that we can to help small business owners survive this dark time in our history. Here are some tips and pointers for owners who want to shield their businesses from the pandemic and the recession.
Move your business online, and do it excellently.
With stay-at-home orders and intermittent lockdowns in place, and as cases continue to climb up across the country, you need to be able to embrace the digital world as an alternative. If you own a store, look for e-commerce alternatives and excellent web hosting platforms. If you’re a dance teacher or a yoga instructor, create online classes or webinars for your students. There are so many tools at your disposal to keep your business alive through the internet. With a good grasp of digital marketing and your target demographic, you might be able to reach more people than you did when you started your business the traditional way.
Do not neglect marketing, customer engagement, and customer service.
If you fail to communicate with your market, chances are you will lose them to competitors who will communicate with them. Regularly touching base with your customers and fostering a genuine connection with them are crucial parts of building brand awareness and loyalty. Do not neglect customer service, as well. Failing at customer service can cost you significant revenue and may cause you to lose customers. Make sure your channels are open to receiving feedback, and that you have the proper customer service tools in place—from social media and online help desks to reverse logistics services and trained representatives.
Double-check your financial options.
One step you shouldn’t miss when trying to save your small business is double-checking where you can get financial backing. You need to be proactive about finding sources for financial support, especially since so much of maintaining a small business has to do with cash flow. Governments may be able to pass relief packages — there are relief bills such as the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Now more than ever, you need to know what your financial options are by engaging with policy-makers in your location so that you can advocate for your business’s needs.
Create a three-month financial plan and strategy.
Creating a three-month plan for your small business entails going over your key expenses for the next three months and talking to the people or agencies in charge or affected about your options and if you can spread out the costs. Chances are, they already have options in place and that they will understand the reality of the current situation. After buying yourself some time, consider how you can reduce your monthly costs and how to fund them moving forward.
Adapt to whatever changes that may come your way.
Being a good business owner and leader means being able to adapt to any changes that may come, whether it’s stricter lockdowns so you revert to remote work, or needing to implement new technologies to keep your business operational. Being flexible will allow your business to move with the times and meet the demands as they come. Unprecedented situations always call for new ways of operating, and you need to be able to monitor changes and mitigate risks even before they come. While it’s true that we may never be 100% prepared for everything, we can still do what we can to prepare for the worst.
If yours is one of the small businesses that made it out of the first few months of the pandemic alive, then you must continue to act with prudence and a sense of urgency. Experts warn that the pandemic and the recession are far from over — we have ways to go before we can go back to normal, and the road to recovery will be rough and long. But if you believe in yourself, and remember how you got your business off the ground despite the odds, your business may just have a fighting chance of surviving this crisis.