How Your Small Business Can Survive During a Global Pandemic
The impact of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come. As many small businesses and entrepreneurs operate with only a few months of cash on hand, the elongated economic slowdown is pushing many small businesses beyond the brink. Research indicates hundreds of thousands of small businesses have already permanently “closed their doors” and many more will follow in coming months.
The data reveals a bleak environment. 60% of businesses in one study indicate they need financial support and more than half have laid off employees. PPP loans fell far short of what was requested or needed. One in five small businesses have temporarily closed down since the pandemic started. It is a difficult environment—one that likely will continue far into the winter until a vaccine is proven and made available to the general public.
In response, small business retailers have raced to e-commerce to replace in-store revenue and professionals like consultants, therapists, accountants, financial advisors, and lawyers have embraced digital technologies to engage with their clients. Technology seems to be a constant in the strategies small businesses are employing to survive. And while technology is certainly a critical tool, there are other strategies they can use to survive during the global pandemic and make their small business successful.
Be Agile and Adapt
Many small businesses were fast to adapt to the pandemic. Distillers pivoting to manufacturing and selling hand sanitizer, restaurants began providing customers with curbside pickup, and textile manufacturers retooled to make masks and other PPC gear. Traditional ways of doing business may simply not work during a pandemic. Small businesses need to identify ways to pivot and tap into new business opportunities—whether repositioning an existing product or coming up with new services and products.
Revamp the Website
Digital presence has never been more important than it is today. First impressions have always been critical, and an engaging and compelling website goes a long way on that front. This means that you must spend some time creating content that helps your customers succeed in their use of your service or product while feeding prospects content that educates and challenges them towards a purchase.
Search engine marketing (SEO) is also important. Prospects will never find your website if it is not optimized for SEO. There are a lot of moving parts here such as tagging images, including keywords that rank, But prospects and customers want more than a website with a great veneer—they want one that provides them with the information they need and makes it simple and easy to engage with the business when they need human assistance.
Use Live Web Chat
Sometimes simply consuming content on a website does not answer a customer’s question or resolve their support issue. Forcing them down one or two engagement channel routes can quickly turn a loyal customer or engaged prospect into a lost website visitor. Small businesses need to offer multiple engagement channels—including live web chat. Research shows that many customers—depending on their question or problem—prefer to engage with businesses using live web chat. For small businesses that do not have the time or resources to manage live web chat themselves, there are great on-demand options such as Davinci Live Web Chat.
Engage Through Social Media
Vast segments of the population get their information through social media, and these numbers only went up with the advent of the pandemic. Businesses need to determine which social media channels are used by their customers (and prospects) and secure the right tools to post content and engage with customers on those channels. There are a lot of online resources that small businesses can use to get started—or get serious—with social media. For small businesses that were in a coworking or shared office space before the pandemic, it may be as simple as looking across the proverbial “hallway” and engaging another business for assistance.
Tap Live Receptionist Services
It is difficult enough during normal times for a small business to answer and prioritize all of the incoming calls. Yet, at the same time, many small businesses cannot afford a full-time receptionist. This is where on-demand live receptionist services like Davinci Live Receptionist can be very helpful. For a nominal amount based on the number of live minutes tallied each month, professional receptionists can answer incoming calls, answer customer and prospect questions, and route calls that can wait to the appropriate voice mail on your team and prioritize those that need immediate assistance and route them to the appropriate member on your team. Live receptionist services, in this case, enable small businesses to deliver great customer and prospect experiences while helping the small businesses to remain productive and focused.
Find and Leverage Financing
Disaster loans are just one of multiple sources of financing for small businesses. Some state government are offering aid packages in addition to the disaster loans. Depending in what state a small business operates, special loan rates might be available. The private sector is even involved—such as $100 million in grants to small businesses from Facebook, the Small Business Relief Initiative led by Intuit, GoFund, Yelp, and others, and Amazon’s $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund.
Small Business Resiliency and Surviving the Pandemic
COVID-19 has disrupted virtually every part of our lives, and the end of the pandemic is still months away. Digital technologies are certainly at the top of the strategies small businesses must embrace in order to survive the pandemic. But this is just one of the answers. They seek ways to “disrupt” the pandemic disruption by thinking outside of the box and doing things they would not have thought of doing before the pandemic hit. Small business owners must also realize they are not in it alone, but rather look to other small businesses for support and collaboration. These are trying times, yet small businesses are a resilient lot; they might get knocked down but they will get off the mat and keep on fighting.