2020 has not brought us a lot of good news, but if we can pin that responsibility on anything, it would have to be COVID – the global pandemic without a shadow of a doubt.
Businesses everywhere have struggled significantly because of this unforeseen outbreak. As usual, it is the smaller and independent businesses that have found themselves right at the bottom, worrying about if there is a point of recovery.
From shops being closed, the general public is encouraged to stay indoors, and businesses having their resources slowly removed, COVID has proven to have a significant impact on businesses worldwide. Due to this, many businesses will be wondering if they can continue once restrictions ease up, or if the damage caused will end up being unrepairable.
That being said, COVID doesn’t have to spell the end for small businesses, even when it might feel like there is no way out.
This piece will discuss how your small business can stay afloat after COVID and what steps you need to take to help get your business back on track.
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What’s the Damage?
So far, the COVID pandemic has seen a whopping 60% of businesses close according to Yelp statistics this year, and it is seen to be a permanent outcome. This devastating outcome will not even be the final count as we are still amongst the worst of it, with no clear end in sight.
At the moment, there are still no straight forward answers as to how businesses are going to be able to survive this unforeseen disaster, and the strict safety procedures still have not proved enough to get customers back through the door. On top of that, the intense mixed messages on COVID have left many the general public more than confused and a little concerned.
Because of this, businesses have to think on their feet, adapt to the current climate accordingly, and as quickly as possible.
Move Everything Online
Moving your business online is the safest and fastest way to connect to your current customers, and reach out to new ones. Depending on your business’s nature, this is easier said than done and can sometimes require some thinking outside of the box.
For example, for those who run exercise classes or are a personal trainer, it might seem impossible to move your business online and make it work. Still, with modern technology, trainers can now offer one on one personal training and classes from the comfort of their own home online or create customized workouts for their clients over video. Moving online and providing services online is definitely something to adjust to but can also be a saving grace when it comes to staying afloat in your business.
The other option for online is to enhance and increase social media campaigns and connections. Social media is now the fastest way to reach both current and potential customers. Without the real-life base, a shop or an office offers them; social media is more important than ever to connect with others, just remember to keep your social media platforms as professional as you would if you were still conducting business in-person.
You will need to put thought into your online marketing strategy, including the creation of a website, as you cannot solely rely on social media – your visitors will want to be able to find a website that they can follow through to and learn more about your business. Take the time to consider content creation and blog posts, if you struggle to do this yourself, then there are plenty of resources online that can help you, and even agencies that can take it out of your hands completely.
Count Your Costs
Now is the best time to analyze your incomings and outgoings, under the mission to cut down as many outgoings as possible. Make a cost-list of everything, and then one by one assess if it is essential or if you can do without it for the time being. There will be plenty of resources that you have and maybe tied into a contract with, but you cannot utilize them because of the pandemic. Because of this, it is worth checking your options for a cancellation or a pause, which could help you either save money now or hopefully in the long run when everything is back to a much more even keel.
For those trying to stay afloat, there is no need to tell you that every dollar counts, so be ruthless and strategic when working your way through the list. Are you able to re-negotiate contracts with the landlords of your business property? Are there specific hours that are the busiest that can be used as the main opening time? Can you find any cheaper suppliers for any essential items the business uses?
If you have not prepared for a financial crisis in your small business, you are not alone. Small businesses often focus on their products and customer service, which can leave the financial side somewhat disorganized. This can be an issue in times like these, though, as it is crucial to know your business’s financial health, the essentials, and the costs that can be cut at any time, not just for when a financial disaster strikes.
That being said, even if you are faced with a financial disaster now, it is not too late to get the financial books in order. There are plenty of free online tools that can help you organize your financial information, predict financial forecasts, and offer other useful insights such as real-time monitoring, which means that when you grasp the essentials and non-essentials, it will be much easier to monitor your financial health.
For those who find themselves short of money for the essentials, or needing a cash injection to help make the transition to online work, consider applying for a disaster loan. A disaster loan is a cash injection offered to businesses in the event of an unforeseen disaster like a storm, fire, or a pandemic. Usually, these circumstances will have an irreparable loss to business property or cut off supplies such as electricity required to keep a business up and running.
For small businesses that desperately need this emergency cash injection, make sure you are eligible, which can include being in a declared area of disaster, amongst other factors.
If you are eligible to go down this route, make sure to do your research and choose a reputable small business finance company such as Biz2credit.com. Read all terms and conditions, check all the fine print to make sure you will not be paying an extortionate amount of interest, or get tied into anything you might not be able to keep up with.
Concentrate on Profitable Opportunities
This might seem like an obvious course of action. Still, amongst everything that is required of business owners to keep their business running, profitable opportunities will need to be at the forefront of a small business’s priorities.
To do this, small businesses should identify their most valuable and demanded products or services and eliminate everything else, which will take up time and resources. During a financial disaster, it is best to focus on the products or services you know customers need or want, and leave the experimenting or products or services that are less desirable to a less financially fragile time.
Small businesses should also identify their loyal and returning customers, especially profitable ones, along with the most profitable products and services. To do this, simply look at the demographic of profitable customers, what they are buying, and how might be the best way to engage with them.
Loyal customers do not just generate money because of their transactional business, but because they are also the best free source of advertising for trusted reviews of small businesses. Word of mouth, even in the digital age, is extremely important and can offer you that extra support for free and without any other expenditures on your side. The best part is that word of mouth advertising often happens among the same demographic and authentic manner.
Government Aid for Small Businesses
Thankfully, some government aid has been put in place for small businesses that are struggling financially amongst the pandemic. However, these aids are not always easy to access, nor are they made so readily apparent. Because of this, small businesses are going without the aids they could use and also deserve.
That being said, there has been some aid offered throughout the initial months, such as PPP assistance, which helped reduce the number of businesses that closed permanently. More needs to be done as the pandemic continues to cause havoc on the economy. To keep up to date with government aid information for small businesses, check the SBA page, which can guide you further.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has been a blow to many businesses. Despite the fact, the slogan goes “We’re all in this together”, it is a fact that the small independent businesses that we love have been hit the hardest. Try these tips to help keep your small business afloat, and accept help from those who want to help you.