Coronavirus and the resulting restrictions have devastated and frightened the American people, businessmen, and entrepreneurs. Small businesses are going bankrupt and closing their doors forever. Larger businesses aren’t faring very well, either. Only a few mega-businesses have gained market share and profitability, including Wal-Mart and Amazon. However, this flies in the face of what we’ve been told about smaller businesses, and it means that every business has to adapt to a new, different model of accomplishing its core tasks. In short, we need to find a new way to do business.
Small Businesses and Entrepreneur Advantages
In a healthy economy, small businesses and entrepreneurs are supposed to have the advantage of being able to quickly adapt to market changes. They can pivot to offer new products and create new strategies because they aren’t tied down by bureaucracy and traditions. The ability to change on the fly has been touted by experts as the reason why small businesses survive and disrupt large businesses. It has also been emulated by larger businesses to stay competitive. Unfortunately, the ability to change seems to have been unable to help small businesses survive COVID-19.
Disadvantages of Small Business
In an unhealthy economy, which the U.S. is experiencing due to coronavirus and the exacerbating political policies put in place over sound medical advice, small businesses don’t have the capital to sustain themselves or their employees. Brick and mortar stores rely on foot traffic and in person sales to boost their bottom line. When those things fail, what can a small business do to survive, especially one that was already hanging by a thread. It’s clear that many retailers don’t have the answer as well-known brands declare bankruptcy.
A New Way to Do Business
Small businesses need to change the way they do business. This will require an adjustment time, a change in mentality, and a whole lot of effort and learning. In order for small businesses to survive the next few months to year, they need to embrace the power of the Internet, figure out how to deliver the personalized service and convey that it gets delivered, and partner with other businesses to create synergy. Fans who love a small business need to help by getting the word out, leaving reviews, and making purchases when possible.
Power of the Internet
Some small businesses don’t have a website or have one they don’t use. Don’t let this be you. Weebly (if you’re not worried about international pageviews) and WordPress are easy to use and can get you started without too much trouble, even if you’re Internet inept. Your website can host a blog and be monetized with ads to provide additional revenue. Depending on the package you get, you may be able to sell digitized products as well as your regular stock on hand. If you’re not great at writing, hire someone to provide you with regular blog posts. Make sure you find someone who is willing to work with you, knows search engine optimization techniques, and can help you with keyword decisions.
Power of Video
You may also want to look into starting YouTube channel to promote your products with video and provide engaging content. (This can be monetized more fully later.) This can be especially useful for businesses that have moving, visual components. If you need more personal interaction, you might consider Zoom. Karaoke bars, for example, could host a sing off. Magicians, like Paul Draper, can offer their shows online. Musicians can do the same. Video offers a personal connection that photos can’t convey.
Power of Service
You need to meet your customers where they are. Some will be at your Facebook page. Others will be on your website. Some will want to pick up their items. Some will prefer delivery. Your business needs to provide these services without hesitation and with joy. Being able to process credit cards is something that you already do. Get a Paypal account or other electronic way to take payments as well. Provide your customers with better service than ever if you want to retain them.
Power of Connection
The Internet provides one form of connection, your business needs to make sure it provides another. As people have to stay inside and are less likely to go out, when your business has to remain closed even when people are out, you still need to provide that personal connection. An email list is good, but it’s not enough. You need to connect with each one of your customers and find out how things are going for them. If you’ve built this connection in real life, it should be a small matter to take it to the Internet. If you haven’t, you’ll need to work hard at finding an approach that delivers your personality and positivity.
Power of Partnerships
Every small business around you is in the same boat. If you can team up with one or more business to provide each other with services and to refer your customers to, you’ll be ahead of the curve. When people work together, their returns become greater than what they would have gotten on their own. Rather than looking at each other as competition for limited funds, start seeing how you can come together to synergize. Create something greater than the sum of its part, and you will be more successful.
It’s about Thriving not Surviving
As a small business if you’re thinking about surviving, you’re in trouble. The stress of surviving will cause you to make poor choices. Instead, you need to think boldly and figure out how you’re going to thrive in the new paradigm. You didn’t get into your business to survive, you got into it to be successful. In order to do that you need to be able to make clear-headed choices that take into account the information on hand. Then you need to apply your abilities to pivoting into new and better modes of doing business. At some point, you may find the old model isn’t even worth keeping. If you’d like a consultation for your business and how to move it forward, contact us.