The pandemic has stretched out longer than anyone anticipated and affected a significant number of small businesses nationwide. On average, at least 600,000 businesses close every year, but a recent study from the Federal Reserve reported approximately 130,000 more businesses had closed their doors for good last year than in previous years. The bulk of these were personal care services, such as beauty salons, barbershops, etc.
If you are a small business owner facing continued hardship these days, here are a few ways your business can survive the pandemic and move forward to a brighter future.
Employee “Fireside Chat”
Your employees need reassurance right now. They are afraid and anxious for themselves, their families and, of course, their source of income. The last thing these employees want is a business owner in panic mode. You, as the employer, certainly want some reassurance from them as well — that they will remain loyal and hardworking and keep the business moving strong.
If you have a premium Zoom account, there’s a lot to be said for camaraderie at this point. A weekly get-together on a virtual chat can do wonders for morale and help make your employees feel special. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know the people working for you a little better, talk about new ideas for the company, or highlight important events. While you could certainly treat it like a business meeting if you like, try to keep things light. These people want to know you have their backs, but they also want to know you care. Keeping your employees abreast of things and complimenting them in public to others are effective ways to keep them engaged in your business. Even having a spirited webcam contest, such as “best room design,” can help people feel less nervous and stressed and more hopeful that things will be alright.
Provide for the Future
One of the most important things a business should create is a plan. Whether you look two, five or even 10 years down the road, it is nice to have a blueprint for your business’ future. The pandemic has undoubtedly made it more critical than ever to have an emergency or contingency plan. Too many companies just didn’t plan for one and went under. Maybe your small business was not too severely affected by the loss of work or customers, and that’s great. But if you’re facing hardships now, there are still a few things you can do for future growth. First, create a flexible schedule for your employees and include optional hours for remote work. Second, provide on-site employees with full anti-viral and other safeguard protections. Finally, consider your materials list. Check to make sure materials or products you use are still abundant and stockpiled to avoid shortages. Little things like this will help your business stay more robust in the long run.
Maintain Your Social Media Profiles
Whether you tweet on Twitter or post on Facebook, your social media presence needs to be as strong as ever. With the pandemic still creating lockdowns, quarantines and closures of various facilities or offices, the way you present your business online becomes more important. Consider periodic entries that let your followers know things like a new product or service coming up. Maybe you can do a “check-in” to let them know how things are going, or pass along a hot tip or exciting story. It is vital to keep connected, not just with your customers but with your employees as well. The pandemic has limited how the whole world can meet and greet. With a vibrant online presence, your business can still reach its primary audience.
Keep Your Customers Close
During the pandemic, your instinct might be to take a break and not bother your customers too much, which is the worst thing you can do. You need to reach out more than ever before. Start with emailing your customer list and letting them know that business is still going, although slower. Alert them to some great discounts or sales you can offer, or maybe start a new company newsletter people can subscribe to. The human connection might be limited right now, but the way you connect on a one-to-one basis with your past and present customers makes all the difference. If you show your customers how much they matter to you, you can depend on them for future sales. Answer every email you receive promptly and personally if need be. You may get “unsubscribe” requests, and that’s fine. You want people who will support your business, and a subscription service is a great way to tell who will stick around for the long-term.
The pandemic is testing millions of small businesses around the world right now. The best way to stay successful is to have proper survival strategies in place to stay afloat during even the darkest times.
The best of luck to you all.