The coronavirus pandemic is forcing businesses to rethink everything from their structures to their advertising. Most people are staying home to prevent themselves from getting sick with COVID-19. This poses a challenge for businesses, especially those that rely on face-to-face interaction with customers. People are less likely to buy things in turbulent times. Small businesses can have trouble staying afloat as their cash flow gets smaller. With the right strategies, though, small businesses can thrive in hard times. The key to survival is for a small business to engage with its community. There are many creative ways that a small business can accomplish that goal.
Work with Small Business Groups
The Small Business Association (SBA) has many resources available at https://www.sba.gov. A section of its site is devoted to information about COVID-19 and how to handle business without spreading the coronavirus. The SBA also has special debt relief options in place for small businesses who are struggling in these difficult economic times. If you’re just starting out, the SBA also helps entrepreneurs launch, plan, and grow their businesses. Your state Department of Economic Opportunity can also help you find local resources. Some states also provide loans specifically for small businesses, like the Florida Bridge Loan Program. Don’t be afraid to ask these groups for help! With the right resources, you can start a successful business even in an economic downturn. Small businesses are the backbones of many communities, and people rely on them just as much as big businesses. Small business groups understand this, and many people in those groups have experience with businesses of their own.
Collaborate with Other Businesses
Competition is a big part of business. During an uncertain time like the coronavirus outbreak, though, businesses can survive by working together. Unlike the Great Depression, completely remote businesses now exist. Collaboration is easier than ever across state and international borders. It’s possible to have meetings with a hundred people without worrying about any of them getting sick from COVID-19. Try contacting other small businesses who do similar things or make similar products. If one business is having trouble with shipping, perhaps the other business can solve the problem with its products or connections. Combining products or marketing could help both businesses prevent layoffs. Creativity is key to collaboration between businesses. Collaboration doesn’t mean that businesses must merge and lose their individual identity, either. Business can collaborate to strengthen their own brands and to help each other at the same time. They’re used to working against each other, but working together can inspire more stability, more customer confidence, and new innovations.
Innovation is all about making your business better. Look at your difficulties with the coronavirus pandemic as areas where you can improve your business. If you’re worried about many of your employees getting sick from COVID-19, invest in a remote work program. Is there a possibility that your servers can’t handle a surge in customers caused by stay at home orders? Research and invest in some new hardware that’s better than your competition. Don’t forget to be creative! Is there something that your customers need that you’re not providing? Has someone had an amazing idea for a new service? Don’t be afraid to take some creative risks during this time. If you tap into a new market or create a product that no one else is offering, your business could quickly reach new levels of success. Many people think of the coronavirus as a temporary problem until we get back to normal. There’s no reason that “normal” must be the same as it was. Small business can innovate to create a new, better normal. Use the uncertainty and stress of this difficult time to make something better!
Since people don’t usually buy as much when times are tough, it’s easy to think that small businesses should cut their advertising budgets. Instead, small businesses should increase their advertising as much as they can. This goes double if they’ve created something new and exciting that consumers would be interested in while dealing with the coronavirus. Many people are afraid of COVID-19 right now, and a fun distraction with a product they like could be just what they need. Reach out to potential customers with digital marketing. Use lots of SEO, and try to repeat your message as often as possible. People don’t often buy a product the first time they see it, so you need to convince them. Find creative ways to make your product appealing. Tap into new technology or write an app. Tailor your marketing to the people who need your product most and focus on them. Some companies even sell products at a loss if it helps them get the word out to people who need them.
It’s easy for businesses of any size to forget about giving back in a time of crisis like the coronavirus pandemic. That’s just what many small businesses are doing now, though. Some are donating medical supplies to fight COVID-19, others are helping raise awareness, and still more are donating to people in need. From a business perspective, you can think of these actions as positive advertising. It’s a good investment with a high rate of return. Successful businesses know, however, that there’s more to it than money and numbers. Businesses of all sizes rely on customers to keep afloat, so giving back is a way to thank them and make their lives better in return. Helping out is important because running a successful business isn’t just about money. It’s about making the world a better place by providing people with something they need.