4 Attainable Ways to Help Your Business Ride Out the Pandemic
Reopening your small business during the COVID-19 pandemic is an extremely challenging undertaking. But in this guest article from Elena Stewart, you’ll learn four attainable ways to help your business survive.
- 1. Be Flexible for the Best Odds at Success
- Implement Adaptations to Your Business to Meet Changing Market Needs
- Embrace the Pandemic Pivot to Overcome Challenges and Branch Out
- Apply for Relief Programs to Provide a Buffer While Your Business Adapts
- 2. Make Remote Work (and Workers) Work for You
- 3. Divert Your Efforts to Online Sales
- 4. Focus on In-Store Improvements for Growth
Reopening your small business during the COVID-19 pandemic will be fraught with challenges.
That’s because, in many cases, the shutdown is lasting longer than business owners expected, and recommendations are changing day by day.
But throughout these tough times, however, you can take small yet significant steps toward business survival.
Here’s are five attainable things you can do.
1. Be Flexible for the Best Odds at Success
The COVID-19 pandemic is evolving rapidly and so too is the need for businesses to be adaptable in order to survive.
With so much change and volatility transpiring at such a rapid pace, one thing is for certain: remaining rigid in your business operations is one surefire way to fail.
Instead, keep an open mind, think outside the box, and take a chance on something new. And while this may be more easily said than done, here are a few ways you can do it.
Implement Adaptations to Your Business to Meet Changing Market Needs
As small businesses work to embrace a new normal, the key to survival is adaptation. According to WFMDepot, this can be done by:
- Cultivating Relationships: Connecting with your VIP clients is a smart way to keep the door open.
- Being Innovative: Consider whether this could be a good time to take risks, try new things, and create new solutions. Alternatively, consider whether this is the time to play it safe.
- Imagining Possibilities: Making business decisions in the midst of the unknown and unpredictable can be scary. It’s important that you imagine all the scenarios and plan both immediate and long-term solutions.
- Redesigning Your Website: Most people find info on the web meaning your website is your business’s first impression. Take this time to enhance your online presence accordingly.
- Adapting Your Marketing: As your business changes, your marketing should too. Now is the time to go for paid social ads as the pandemic has made them inexpensive. You can also promote your business by offering something free or inexpensive to your customers.
- Being an Entrepreneur: Think outside the box. How can your business address a specific need or challenge presented by the coronavirus? Do you own a car wash? Become a mobile detailing service. Are you a web designer? Charge for webinars on basic site maintenance, free graphic design tools and skill-specific tutorials. The key is to just find ways to make things work.
- Supporting Remote Work: Telecommuting has many advantages and disadvantages. For businesses with employees working from home, consider doing a weekly Zoom happy hour or exercising together. Start using a communication platform like Slack, Skype, or Teams so that everyone can communicate in real time. Staying connected is key to a positive full-remote transition.
Embrace the Pandemic Pivot to Overcome Challenges and Branch Out
It’s important to get a grasp on how you can pivot your business in the face of adversity. As per Greg Shepard via Entrepreneur, there are four ways to do this:
- Stop the Bleed: Do a damage assessment and look at what other vulnerabilities you’re facing. Once you’ve figured out what’s broken, take steps to stabilize the bleed.
- Find Your Crisis Pivot: Once you’ve bandaged the open wounds, you need to stop, take a breath, and figure out how to move forward. Take stock of your assets and resources. How can you leverage those resources in new ways? How can you bring in and adopt new technology? How can you do things differently today to keep revenues flowing, keep your people employed, keep your customers engaged, and keep stakeholders and investors on-side? Figuring that out requires looking with fresh eyes at your team, your customers, and the world around you.
- Seize the Opportunity: Once you’ve figured out your plan, it’s time to start executing. Understand that crises bring opportunities. After all, the world will look very different once the dust settles — and the difference between the past and the future is where opportunities arise. Whichever companies see those opportunities the clearest and seize them earliest will be positioned to lead their industries as this crisis comes to an end.
- Get Back to Business: At some point, you need to get back to acting deliberately. The sooner you can do that, the better your chance of survival. Remember that this is a gradual process and that not everything will come back to normal all at once.
Being a business-owner during the COVID-19 pandemic means you’re up against some financial challenges.
But luckily, there are a ton of financial relief programs available. Check out this comprehensive list from SmartAsset.com to see what your business may qualify for.
2. Make Remote Work (and Workers) Work for You
Adapting to working from home (or in an empty store) can be tough. But mastering the digital workplace is vital for your company’s survival.
You can do this by:
- Outfitting your home office with upgrades you can work with. Check out this list from Doist that outlines 13 easy upgrades you can make, including:
- An ergonomic office chair to give your back some love
- Quality speakers so that you can bump productivity-inspiring tunes
- A soft-light desk lamp for your optic and mental health
- A smart assistant to save you precious time
- A yoga/stretching mat to counteract hours hunched over the computer
- An ergonomic keyboard to give your wrists a break
- A desk you love because you’re going to be spending a lot of time at it
- A whiteboard for analog creativity
- Plants to boost your mood
- A reliable wireless router since it’s critical to your ability to work
- A super-fast computer because time spend waiting to load adds up
- A big external monitor to transform the way you get things done
- Charging accessories to keep all your devices going
- Hiring freelance remote workers using services like Upwork to bring affordable expertise and improvements to your business
- Taking a crash course in managing remote employees which, according to SHRM, can be done in ten steps, including:
- Setting expectations early and often
- Being organized and flexible
- Adapting the length of your meetings
- Tracking your workers’ progress
- Emphasizing communication
- Remembering to listen
- Building connections and being available to your team
- Providing a way to collaborate
- Resisting the urge to micromanage
- Celebrating success
- Building up your remote team with expert guidance from Outback Team Building & Training which provides outstanding virtual group employee training workshops, such as:
- Emotional Intelligence: With this leadership training and development program, you can develop your team’s self-awareness and social skills by helping them learn to self-regulate behaviors, use emotionally intelligent motivators, and develop a greater sense of empathy. This is especially important during high-stress times like the current COVID-19 pandemic.
- Conflict Resolution: In any workplace environment, conflict is to be expected. But with a rise in remote working during the pandemic, conflict resolution has become even more challenging. This group training workshop will teach you to manage and resolve conflicts with colleagues in a more positive and productive way.
3. Divert Your Efforts to Online Sales
Whether you sell a product or a service, using online resources will be to your advantage. Here are a few ways to do it.
- Take your retail business online with an e-commerce website. In this article from Shopify, you’ll find a comprehensive list of tips and considerations for how to make this work effectively, including how to set up your site and the important features and details you’ll need to include in order to close sales.
- Explore—and apply—ways to promote your online store. This article from Databox dives deep into the strategies and tactics you can implement, including:
- Publishing more than just blog posts
- Implementing the power of SEO for your online business
- Considering paid search for short-term growth
- Utilizing influencer marketing
- Using email marketing
- Leveraging social media and paid social ads
- Take care to engage with customers using these eight tips from SmartInsights.com:
- Enable customer feedback and allow for reviews
- Pair requests with rewards
- Provide easy access to information
- Immediately engage unhappy customers
- Increase account creations
- Offer loyalty programs
- Keep track of significant days
- Make better use of social media
4. Focus on In-Store Improvements for Growth
Renovating your store is one way to take advantage of a long-term closure. Enlist the right help and choose the right features and you’ll have a shiny new storefront to welcome guests when the time comes.
- Choose a general contractor for large-scale renovations. Not sure where to start? No worries. Fit Small Business has five steps you can take to get the right one:
- Assemble an initial list of four or five contractors
- Meet with each contractor individually to do a walk-through of your project
- Ask each contractor to provide you with a detailed and itemized estimate
- Pick your contractor based on rating and reputation and value
- Draw up and sign a detailed contract
- Select and use new paint colors carefully to put shoppers at ease using these five tips from Chron:
- Evaluate the traditional colors associated with your industry and use that as the jumping-off point for your selection
- Look at your stocked shelves and merchandising to ensure you’re not picking colors that will conflict with your merchandise or make the experience feel overwhelming
- Start by painting a small portion of the wall in the colors you’re considering and leave them for a few days to see how you feel about them (but keep in mind that first impressions are critical in retail!)
- Refer to your market research to determine the colors that might best resonate with your target consumers
- Use demographic data to determine the cultural mix of your target customers (marketing researchers Andrew Elliot and Markus Maier find that some emotional reactions to colors are biological, but others are cultural. For example, people quickly notice reds and yellows, which make these colors useful to generate excitement and bring attention to something special. At the same time, many Americans tend to view red as a warning to stop and think, so too much can be counterproductive)
- Add inviting yet affordable elements, like inexpensive carpet, to get that new-store feel. In this write-up from Home Advisor, you can learn about everything to do with choosing the right carpet, including the differences between cheap and expensive carpeting, the best times and places to buy carpet, and tips for hiring affordable carpet installers.
Navigating the pandemic as a small business owner is not easy. Fortunately, with these tips, you can begin to recover both your confidence and profits. Keeping a positive attitude is great, but taking action is even better.
Are You Looking for Expert Help on Engaging Your Employees During COVID-19?
For more information about how your group can take part in a virtual team building, training, or coaching solution, reach out to our Employee Engagement Consultants.
Elena Stewart – Certified Life Coach
Elena Stewart is a certified life coach who specializes in the teachings of Brené Brown, Danielle LaPorte, and Marie Forleo. She successfully transitioned from the corporate world to running her own business, and she now helps others achieve their career goals and dreams.