The Secret to Growing a Small Business During the PandemicPat Fontana
The COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing regulations regarding business openings, social distancing, and staying at home have significantly affected many small business owners throughout Arizona. However, there are businesses that have continued to not only maintain their financial stability, but that have also found ways to move forward during the outbreak. The secret to growing a small business during the pandemic, say most experts, is flexibility and creativity.
In July, the US Chamber conducted a Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll, which found that most small businesses are concerned about financial hardship due to prolonged closures (70%) and more than half worry about having to permanently close (58%). Two-thirds of small businesses (65%) are concerned about having to close again or stay closed if there is a second wave of COVID-19. Concern is particularly high among small businesses that already had to temporarily close (85%).
Over the long term, small businesses show signs of guarded optimism, but feel it will be some time before things return to normal. More than half of small businesses believe it will take six months to a year before the small business climate returns to normal (56%). Another 7% think that it will never return to normal.
More than half expect next year’s revenues to increase (53% vs. 50% in May and 47% in April), while 18% expect them to decrease. In July, small businesses were more likely to report plans to increase investments in the upcoming year (35%), up eight percentage points from May.
Reassurance and Safety a Competitive Advantage
Carl Hadden, an associate director of the Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida, advises small business owners to convince their customers it’s safe to use their services and buy their products. Hadden says, “You already have customers; they already use your services. Now you have to convince them it’s safe to partake in those services. So it’s really changing the marketing message. Safety becomes a competitive advantage.”
In addition, Hadden says that “in spite of the struggle, the entrepreneurial spirit of our community is alive. There are entrepreneurs who are looking to take advantage of opportunities that were created within this struggle.” That creativity and flexibility in the business model is part of the secret to growing a small business during the pandemic.
Shifting the business model to better meet the needs of customers who are also facing coronavirus-related challenges might be necessary for continued success. Although the small business owner may not feel right capitalizing on such a devastating situation, the COVID-19 restrictions and changing environment can be a wake-up call for reconsidering the existing business model.
A recent article in Entrepreneur suggests asking the following questions: “Is your business model able to survive the changes that will come from the COVID-19 pandemic? How do you expect your customers to behave moving forward? What will and won’t matter to them, and how can you accommodate who will likely be a new type of customer? Can you digitize any of your products or services, and start offering them online? Can you implement technology to balance any loss of earnings by offering new ways to connect with your customers?”
Creating Opportunities Virtually
Technology can be the small business owner’s best tool for success during the pandemic. Networking is by far the most effective marketing strategy for a small business owner. However, in the time of COVID-19, face-to-face networking events have been shut down. The innovative small business owner will take advantage of technology to explore new ways to network.
Social media expert Sophie Bowman, writing in a recent issue of Forbes, suggests that “Networking can be the key to expanding your enterprise. And best of all, you can network with industry big players from the comfort of your living room. The world is your oyster. Join Facebook groups and Meetups that are relevant to your industry, and network away.”
Using Social Media
Bowman also suggests that “It’s essential to update your social media marketing strategy now to reflect these changes and adjust to changing consumer interests.” Small business customers are going online in much higher numbers during the pandemic. In particular, searches for leisure activities, fitness equipment, and hobby-related items have increased dramatically. As more people do business online, creatively using social media to reach out to customers and to secure new customers is part of the secret to growing a small business during the pandemic.
CLEAR VIEW BUSINESS SOLUTIONS IS HERE TO HELP YOUR SMALL BUSINESS DURING COVID-19
At Clear View, we want to see you succeed as a small business owner. We work with entrepreneurs, independent consultants, and solo-preneurs to help you become more profitable. Learn more about how we can help you and your business by contacting Clear View Business Solutions to speak to our team about our services. Give us a call at (520) 544-0177.