When COVID-19 struck, small businesses were hit hard by shelter-in-place orders. Many had to close up shop for good.
How can the ones that barely survived make a comeback? It won’t be easy, but it’s certainly possible.
More than anything, getting your small business back on a firm footing will require resourcefulness and hard work. Embrace the following strategies to bring about your company’s resurgence as efficiently and successfully as possible:
Many small businesses have strong family ties. Families support entrepreneurs in their business endeavors through thick and thin. During this time of crisis, that support is needed now more than ever.
When employees are stuck in quarantine (or if you had to lay off staff), ask family members to pitch in. Your nephew may be able to package orders for curbside pickup, or your sister could answer phones. The more assistance you get both physically and emotionally from family members, the sooner you can get things back on track. When that day comes, be sure to repay the favor.
With revenues down, small businesses everywhere are looking to cut costs. Unfortunately, one of the best ways to do that — bulk purchasing of supplies — is usually closed to them. Small businesses just can’t buy in the quantities necessary to earn the big discounts.
That’s where group purchasing comes in. Group purchasing organizations enable smaller organizations to band together to get significant discounts on the materials and supplies they need to operate. Not only can a GPO offer average savings of 20-25%, they also save business owners time by handling supplier vetting for them.
The last thing that small businesses want is another lockdown. The first one was bad enough; it’ll be tough for weary survivors to make it through another.
Small businesses can do their part to avoid one by prioritizing safety. Enforcing proper mask use and social distancing — and communicating those efforts widely — will also encourage safety-conscious customers to come back.
Many consumers want to return to normalcy but still have lingering concerns about Covid-19. Give them the best of both worlds by providing a safe experience for all consumers who enter your doors.
Take Care of Employees
Hiring and training are expensive. They also take up a lot of time you could be spending trying to recover lost revenue. That’s why you should strive to retain the employees you have and take care of them through the ongoing crisis. Their experience and company knowledge will be vital for your comeback.
Take their concerns about the pandemic into account. Are they or their family members in a high-risk category? Let them work at home as much as possible, or reduce their customer contact. If you’ve had to cut staff hours, try to do so in a balanced way. Take care of your employees as best you can, and in return, they will help you take care of your business.
Change Your Business Outlook
When 2020 first started, your business outlook was doubtless more optimistic than the reality turned out to be. Pursuing the same goals at this point is unrealistic. If you originally planned to expand operations to a second location, for example, consider holding off until the end of 2021.
Recalibrate your trajectory for the present. Rather than pursue a second location, look to regain strength at your current one. If in-store traffic is down, promote your curbside service or home delivery of online orders. Set smaller, more obtainable goals to help recover lost revenue streams and increase your customer base so you can rehire lost employees.
Your new business plan should include a revised budget and a timeline for rebuilding. Returning to your pre-Covid status — and setting the stage for the future —will require careful planning and execution.
Shutdowns cost small businesses tons of revenue, throwing them off balance. Expenses didn’t just go away, however, so many organizations are now operating at a deficit.
If your company is suffering financially from the pandemic, seek temporary funding for a jumpstart. While the Paycheck Protection Program has closed, and a second coronavirus relief package has yet to pass Congress, there are still resources available.
State, city, and private programs are offering grants, low-interest loans, and assistance centers to help struggling businesses. Options for relief funding may not be obvious, but they’re out there.
Your small business needs to be making money in order to stage a full comeback. That’s easier said than done; as noted, pre-COVID revenue streams may have slowed to a trickle or dried up completely.
To recover lost revenue, explore new methods of making money. Maybe your restaurant has already done as much as it can with takeout orders and outside seating — and now winter is coming. It’s time to get even more creative.
Get in on the lucrative meal kit market and offer pre-prepped versions of your most popular menu items to home cooks. Your regulars will get to enjoy piping-hot (not clamshell-soggy) versions of their favorites while buying local.
Whatever your business, it’s time to redouble your efforts to expand your customer base or reposition your offerings. Change your marketing strategy and start selling more online. Consider every avenue for recovering lost revenue until you’re back in the black.
Put Technology to Work
When so many operations were stopped by COVID-19, technology kept the world running. It allowed teachers to continue to instruct students, employees to work from home, and supply chains to run without heavy supervision.
When you’re already reeling from revenue losses, adopting new tech may be the furthest thing from your mind. But hear me out: Technology that helps you increase sales, better manage your operations, and improve customer service is worth the cost — especially when that cost is zero. Many B2B sales tools, project management solutions, and CRM systems have free versions that you can get started with. So, get started.
Where there’s technology, there’s data. Data is the future of business, and not just for global enterprises. Data-driven decision-making will make your business comeback more rapid and more powerful.
That new CRM system can tell you which customers are most profitable, so begin your revenue reclamation efforts with them. Data will tell you where operational inefficiencies can be found, which trends to capitalize on, and how your key performance metrics are stacking up. Your business generates data every day, so capture it and put it to use to fuel your comeback strategies.
Rally the Community
Your entire city has taken a beating from Covid-19. Your fellow business owners and citizens need healing and support as well. You can rally them together in an effort to strengthen them and your business simultaneously.
Consider reaching out to other local businesses to put together some sort of event. Consider a virtual holiday bazaar or an online charity auction. Proceeds from the auction can be used for the benefit of the community, and businesses can get some sales boosts and exposure from the event.
This is the time for small businesses to persevere and to show why they are the backbone of America. Use this guide to strengthen your own business, and you’ll be poised to come back stronger than ever.