The economic impact of COVID-19 will be felt for some time as small businesses struggle to keep afloat as they meet new operational guidelines. Of course, it isn’t the end for these companies. They’ve faced hardships before, as it’s been well-documented that being a small business owner is one of the hardest jobs in America. Many will rely on their resiliency in the face of adversity to sustain their business and determine what their future success looks like.
As small businesses head into the second half of the year, they are examining what strategies they can implement to remain operational in this “new normal.” Here are three key areas that business owners can assess as they realign their budgets and reignite their goals.
1. Seize opportunities and resources
Rather than rising and falling with the tide of economic changes, small business owners must adapt to a new way of operating. Many small business owners have already successfully adapted, while others are left wondering how best to restart their business and are in need of more support than ever. By researching resources online, small businesses can find assistance that will help them get back on track.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has many guides and loan resources to help navigate these times, though some can be tricky to understand and even more difficult to implement. Another option is to look at organizations that are helping small businesses through free virtual coaching and educational resources.
SCORE is an SBA partner providing real-time business mentoring and resiliency training for small businesses. From operations to marketing, SCORE matches businesses with mentors based on industry or business area who can provide valuable information on best practices for running a business and tips for avoiding common pitfalls, such as early overspending or not understanding your target market. The SCORE Small Business Resilience Program is specifically tailored to help small business owners recover and thrive following major disruptions. From leadership to marketing, these times require customized support and advice from those who deeply understand your industry and business.
2. Adapt to your market quickly and adjust your business plan
With limited resources, most small business owners have always had to quickly adapt their operations to fit special circumstances. While there’s no clear way to predict a crisis, the past few months have shown the importance of having a business plan that is flexible and can account for major disruptions to operations.
A detailed business plan creates a safety net for organizations when facing obstacles and helps ensure financial viability while maintaining business continuity. While these types of plans vary depending on the size and area of business, every organization should understand the importance of having one in place if they hope to grow or expand operations. If your organization doesn’t already have a plan in place, now’s the time to look into establishing one. Getting started is always the hardest step, but there’s plenty of information available online to help you get started, including free resources from the SBA and SCORE. The SBA even has educational materials specifically for crisis planning and preparing for emergencies that focus on how to maintain business continuity by proactively identifying potential risks.
3. Leveraging existing channels in new ways
At a time when communicating with customers is so important, there should be a focus on driving communication between existing and potential customers. Small businesses are built on relationships and as the virtual world continues to be the main forum for both social and business transactions, entrepreneurs can take advantage of digital channels to connect with their customers.
From social media and website content to public listings and reviews, there are infinite ways to engage with customers and keep them connected to the business while remote. There doesn’t need to be a high investment of time or money for these platforms to be effective. Email, for example, has long proven to be one of the strongest performing marketing mediums and is an easily accessible, high-return solution. Of course, it’s critical that small businesses adjust their messaging and content appropriately across all platforms to reflect these sensitive times.
Leveraging every channel allows you to effectively reach all your customers to communicate any changes in operations and let them know how they can continue to do business with you. As different states continue rolling out reopening plans, maintaining close communication with customers to share the latest information is important.
The past few months have highlighted the need to prepare for potential disruptions down the road. As the focus for many shifts to reopening and recovery, it will be more important than ever for small businesses to be agile and resilient.
Dave Charest is the director of Content Marketing at Constant Contact