So many small businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, and the small business landscape is going to be forever changed. While most business owners have had many moments of despair and uncertainty, there is always a lesson to be learned from the chaos of crisis.
1. Technology Matters
Almost overnight, small businesses across the country had to become technology experts. Zoom became a normal part of every sentence when discussing how to hold meetings and suddenly it became the norm to work together through the screen of a computer or phone. Conferences and events soon turned to webinars. Some of the biggest names in the live motivational event space, suddenly were faced with the challenge of finding ways to hold their events online.
“I went to bed as a shop owner and woke up an e-commerce entrepreneur.” In the blink of an eye online sales skyrocketed, while brick and mortar small businesses had to learn how to get online….and do it fast.
If we can learn anything from this time, it is that knowing and understanding the opportunities that technology presents, will not come back void. Those who were already online with their businesses were a step ahead.
2. A Digital Marketing Strategy Is Important
In the last decade we have seen social media become less of an anomaly and more of the norm. But even with the popularity of digital marketing, so many small businesses haven’t been able to “do all the things”. As a small business owner, time is a precious commodity. Writing Facebook posts, posting Instagram stories and making sure your Google Business page is in tip top shape doesn’t always fall to the top of the list.
Yet in this “new normal” being able to communicate with your customers and potential customers online became paramount. Now is a great time to evaluate which verticals are best for your business and put a plan in place that will carry you long past this pandemic.
3. Working From Home Can Work
Before March, if you came to work in your pajamas or brought your dog to a meeting, you probably wouldn’t have a job or a business. Now doing Zoom with a freshly pressed button up on top and pajamas on the bottom became socially acceptable! WINNING! If your Zoom meetings aren’t interrupted at least once by a crying child or barking dog, you start to wonder if everything is ok.
More and more companies were transitioning to work from home models but with COVID-19, many more were forced to figure it out. People were quickly setting up office space in the corner of the kitchen or bedroom and making it work.
4. Have A Plan B
You always need to have a backup plan. Companies that fail to innovate, don’t make it. Look at Toys-R-Us. For decades they were the place to go if you needed a toy. They relied on their brick and mortar stores and put little money into their digital strategy. They had no “Plan B” for when Amazon, Walmart and so many other retailers invested in online platforms.
COVD-19 has taught us that we have to have a plan and we have to have a backup plan. No one saw a crisis like this happening, but what we do know is that the world is always changing. As a small business owner it is imperative to be looking ahead and asking yourself “what would I do if?”.
5. Those Who Adapt Are The Survivalists
If you have all of your eggs in one basket, you’ll struggle to survive. You have to always be thinking outside the box and looking at ways to change and adapt. Just because something has worked one way for a decade, doesn’t mean it will serve you through the next one. While there are always lessons to be learned from the past, it is important to not get stuck in it. We must look ahead with a determination to grow as the world changes.
6. Customer Service Matters More Than Ever
This time of struggle has brought many challenges to small businesses that had never been faced before. As the economy tightened and the way people chose to spend their money changed, customer service became paramount to the success of a business like never before. This has been a reminder that without our customers, we truly have nothing.
Everyone is on edge and a little bit of kindness goes a long way. Teaching your employees to spend a little extra time helping customers, being a little more patient when issues arise and going the extra mile will set you apart from other businesses.
7. Communication is Key
When the COVID-19 crisis first began everyone’s heads were spinning. It felt like things were changing not only by the day but by the hour. New rules quickly changed into other new rules and confusion ran rampant. It was difficult to know what businesses were essential, who was open and what would happen next.
During this time, we have seen so many messages of positivity and support online from customers. A simple Facebook post explaining to your customers the challenges of being open, can bring loyalty and compassion. Updating your hours online so that people don’t have to guess if you’re going to be there makes things simple. When things are running smoothly, it is easy to let communication drop by the wayside and now more than ever it’s vital to stay in front of your message.
8. Prepare For The Worst (And Hope For The Best)
It’s never fun to look at the worst case scenario. It is painful to see all of your hard work coming back void but it is so important to evaluate your situation based on reality. If you are able to sit down and look at what the worst case scenario is, then you are able to plan for how to combat it. And if that worst case never happens, you’re already a step ahead.
9. Community Wins
When life is busy and the economy is doing well, it is easy to get complacent. Maybe you don’t participate in as many networking events. Perhaps you don’t make the effort to branch out and make new relationships in the small business world. But when a crisis hits, it is that very community that will support you. One of the most encouraging things we have seen during this difficult year has been the community. Whether it be people offering their help as free and friendly to fellow business owners or simply taking time to problem solve with each other.
10. You’re Not Alone
This pandemic has shown us just how connected we really are. In most of our lifetimes, there has never been another event that has so directly impacted every human on earth like this has. Sometimes there is a simple comfort in knowing that you're not the only one struggling. You are not the only business fighting to stay alive. You are not the only business looking for ways to innovate. We have seen people become less about “me” and more about “us” during this pandemic.
Business owners across the globe are coming together to problem solve with each other. At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, Bob Bagga, the CEO of BizX, joined forces with other local business owners to start the Corona: Business Saving Business! Facebook Group and podcast. It has become a sounding board for small business owners and an opportunity for the community to support each other.