Small business owners have never had it easy, but in the past year, the COVID-19 hammer has come down on them particularly hard. According to this February 2021 news report, 30 percent of small businesses in the U.S. doubt their ability to remain in business without additional assistance. Minority-owned businesses have been hit especially hard.
But small business owners are resilient. After all, simply starting a business in any economy takes determination and dedication. Consider exploring EK Careers’ service offerings. Sometimes this results in being able to redirect money towards creative adaptations to keep revenue rolling in, even if that adaptation is beyond your original business model. Keep in mind that the pandemic is temporary, so it may be worth exploring some strategies to get your business to the other side of it.
Add-ons that make sense
Look at what other businesses are doing and why it makes sense for their industry. For example, grocers, restaurants, and retailers that already had an established delivery or curbside pick-up service simply ramped up to handle a new load, transferring other employees to those operations or even hiring new ones. Many who didn’t have it in place realized that doing so could mean their survival and executed as quickly as possible. It may have cost some dollars up front, but it kept the doors open — and is likely here to stay.
Service industries have it somewhat tougher — but thanks to technology, not impossible. Video conferencing and mobile technology have allowed personal trainers, music instructors, tutors, and even yoga instructors to continue their classes. These added capabilities will also likely mean additional costs on your end, such as upgrading your website or hiring someone to develop a mobile app that puts you at your customers’ fingertips.
If you are able to fund or finance some capital improvements, create or expand an outdoor space. Not only is it healthier but the added room improves capacity for social distancing. Outdoor eating is a natural addition for restaurants, but fitness and yoga classes transition well (weather permitting), and many schools have found it to be a productive alternative to the classroom setting — proving its functionality for other lesson-oriented businesses.
Enticements that empower
In a time of fear and uncertainty, people look for ways to feel good and hang onto something they can control. Doing something for others is one proven way to accomplish that. Consider adding a charitable enticement to your product or service, such as $1 of each purchase going toward a charitable organization or purchasing equipment for frontline workers or teachers. One California restaurant created a “pay what you want” Community Burger with proceeds going directly to a fund that helps support restaurant employees who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The average “purchase price” has been $27. It costs the restaurant time and supplies but it can generate other business and, certainly, publicity and long-term goodwill.
Communicate with the faithful — and the newcomers
Hopefully, you have an established email list of customers so you can put out an email blast or newsletter announcing that you are still open and would welcome their support. Consumers can be very loyal, particularly to small, local businesses. Don’t be shy about sending reminders that you are still open for business with details about changes and accommodations. Offer incentives for referrals to attract new clients — some customers of businesses that have had to close their doors may be looking for a new small business to patronize.
Another avenue for attracting new business is to peruse online job boards for freelance lead generators. Many have executive-level experience in finding new sales prospects through opt-in email messaging, cold calling, developing pay-per-click ads, and content marketing. You can evaluate reviews, delivery times, and costs before engaging services.
Helping out, holding up
Get your employees on board early with the challenges you’ll be facing, and solicit their ideas to collaborate on some creative solutions. People want to help out their local community as they are able when times are difficult, and you’ll likely find that they appreciate inventive and resourceful attempts to stay open for them and for the community. And remember, as a business owner, you’re not alone either. If you need help with communication or leadership skills to help you lead your business through the pandemic cloud, let EK Careers help.
Christopher Haymon uses his financial knowledge in his off hours to help others learn to conquer debt and reach for financial freedom. Leaving college and entering the “real world,” he learned a valuable lesson about the perils of not budgeting or saving. He created Adulting Digest to help others who need help navigating the world of adult finances.