Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has become the ultimate global economy disrupter. Many businesses, everyone from Fortune 500s to start-ups, are having trouble keeping afloat. So many businesses have shut down while others have filed for bankruptcy because they suffer from a pile of payments and debts that can’t be paid off with the lack of income.
In early September, Yelp released an Economic impact report which revealed the closure of business all over the US. Yelp says over 97,966 businesses which represent 60% of closed businesses will not re-open. And that’s not all; Yelp data shows that business closure is still on the rise with a 34% increase in permanent closure.
These numbers can make business owners feel doomed, but here are seven things they can do to help their businesses survive the pandemic.
1) CREATE AN ONLINE PRESENCE TO SUPPORT ECOMMERCE
Businesses with an online presence, particularly those that already conduct their work digitally, have a great opportunity to stay afloat during this pandemic. But this doesn’t mean that brick and mortar stores can’t succeed. They can! They just need to upgrade their basic or underutilized websites.
If you have a brick and motor store, the first step to create your online presence is setting up a virtual store. If you have a website, optimize it to support online orders, you can use several eCommerce stores/platforms already available from third-party vendors.
Ecommerce platforms like Alibaba Group launched a set of e-commerce resources to help small business in America struggling amidst this crisis. BigCommerce, Wayfair, Shopify, and other big names in eCommerce also allow you to easily sell your products online.
If you're trying eCommerce for the first time, try not to compete on a global scale or with vendors on eBay or Amazon, instead think local. Focus on customers within a 30 mile radius. For instance, offer free local delivery within this radius.
2) LOOK AT YOUR COMPETITION
The fact is, some businesses are more affected by the COVID-19 pandemic than others. Look at those that have stayed afloat and learn what they’re doing differently.
Looking at both direct and indirect competition gives you the best chance to understand what others are doing and which tactics seem to work. Although some tactics might not cut across your industry, you can adjust them to fit your own needs. This will help you position your business much better to match your competition.
3) LISTEN TO YOUR CLIENTS AND ACCOMODATE THEIR NEEDS
It’s now more important than ever to strengthen your customer loyalty. And the best way to do this is to actively listen to their needs and adapt to them.
Utilize customer feedback surveys, conducted via mailing lists, social media channels, and your website. Your clients might offer you priceless insight that you may never have come up with by yourself.
Analyze your data, including your sales, marketing, and what you already know about your customers. See which initiatives worked before Coronavirus and which didn’t, plus profile your best customers.
Find customer-based content, stories, and photos that you can share on your website and social media page to grow your customer base, engagement, audience, and trust.
To stand out offer new products and services that are likely to attract the attention of both your existing customers and prospects. Focus on viral niche products and services that address newly passed regulations.
4) MAINTAIN PRODUCTIVITY BY LEARNING
Learning is a continuous process; this is especially true for business owners and entrepreneurs. They need to wear a lot of different hats to maintain their skills and success. For most successful business owners reading about business, researching the competition, and self-improvement is a full-time job.
There are many articles, blogs, podcasts, and online courses for business owners to choose from and utilize. You can also check a list of online courses and learn how you can improve your entrepreneur skills and business in this tough time.
Don’t view the pandemic as a setback. Instead, look at it as an incredible opportunity to level-up. By reading, researching, and listening to experts, you can get a better understanding of your market and the competition your face.
5) STRESS TEST, ENSURE LIQUIDITY, AND BUILD A CONTINGENCY PLAN
One of the key challenges for most businesses is accessing cash. Running any business is risky, but small businesses are more vulnerable. Only half of small businesses last longer than five years. Expenses like payroll, utilities, and rent tend to leave little liquid cash to the business owner, particularly in the early years of establishment.
Add this to the shortage of income from slowdown in services and newly needed benefits stemming from the pandemic, and business owners will be very devastated.
For businesses to combat this challenge, they should try to recognize the trigger variables that can impact their cost and revenue. They should also advocate for an effort to provide immediate liquidity, keep business solvent.
When a business identifies the various triggers, then it can establish scenarios so that revenue stream, profit and loss, and balance sheets can be adjusted. From there, a business owner can draft a contingency plan for the various outcomes, such as portfolio optimization via cost reduction, divestments, etc.
6) OPTIMIZE BUSINESS SPENDING
This is the best time to re-evaluate how you’re spending money on your business. By reducing cost, you can impactfully pursue your business goals during this pandemic.
A great way business owners can optimize their business is by adopting digital ads instead of print ads. Also, investing in digital marketing can help you reduce your monthly marketing costs while providing a targeted and precise reach to prospects.
Another great way to optimize your business cost is shopping vendors. When you notify your vendors that you will shop around for better prices, you give the vendors a chance to offer you a better deal. Also, it might allow you to go and find a better deal!
There are several ways to optimize your business spending. You only need to know where your monthly expenses are going, then find where and how you can make cost-effective adjustments.
7) KEEP AN OPEN MIND
It's no secret; the world is a scary place right now. But at one point, things will get better, something will revert to normal, and others will permanently change, but this doesn’t mean your business cannot adapt.
Businesses often face challenges, and this one is not so different. Business owners should approach it just like any roadblock.
By taking the time to read this piece, you’ve placed yourself ahead of most business owners. Roadblocks might look impossible to surpass, but with determination and effort, you’ll overcome them.
You’ve got this handled. So keep your chin up and keep on moving.