Small businesses are viewed as the lifeblood of a nation’s economy. They employ 58.9 million people in the United States—almost half of the private sector’s total workforce. They also contributed $5.9 trillion to the US GDP in 2014. However, the lifeblood is experiencing quite a challenge this year, no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small business owners are expected to face a financial blow that’s likely worse than the Great Recession, according to Harvard Business School senior fellow Karen G. Mills. They are forced to scale down or temporarily close due to the social or physical distancing measures put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
With no improvement or end in sight yet to the stay-at-home measures nor a daily cash flow to help them survive, small businesses may have to cut down their staff or, sadly, shut down for good.
Aside from government help, you can weather this storm and better equip yourself with protection against similar circumstances in the future by keeping a few facts in mind and considering the following steps.
- Expect setbacks
You can only recover from a setback if you recognize that things will not always work out for the best. When it comes to businesses, not accepting that challenges are a commonplace—whether it’s something out of your control or the result of your own poor decision—can leave you immobilized once it’s at your doorstep.
- Get help if needed
There’s nothing wrong about asking for help. With the support and guidance of your friends and colleagues who were on the same boat before,you get a wealth of ideas as to how you can go about your problems. It may even offer you solutions that you perhaps failed to consider.
- Consider how circumstances are affecting customers
Since the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting consumer behavior, customers may be seeing new pain points, and knowing what those are can help you improve your business strategies. You can update your sales pitch and marketing efforts to address these challenges and worries, with the help of your products or services, of course.
- Focus on high-value clients
Small and large businesses alike strictly manage their cash flow, and this makes an uncertain pandemic precarious for the small ones that heavily rely on it daily.
However, even less-established companies can take steps to maximize their sales pipeline amidst a crisis, with an expectation that conversions will drop. It is, therefore, essential to target high-value customers as their conversions can happen quickly.
- Look at other channels
There may not be crowds of buyers outside for now, but that doesn’t mean that the need to purchase things is low. Take advantage of alternative sales channels. This may be an excellent time to expand your ecommerce offerings. Aside from this, you can boost your online marketing efforts and gain leads through social media.
- Prepare for pent-up demand
Any type of disaster should not be taken lightly by an organization, small or otherwise. However, it’s also true that those who take the right steps even amidst a crisis can find success once the smoke clears.
Challenges are a commonplace, as already established. This means that there are ways to adapt and come out of it stronger. Don’t cut back too far today if you want to take advantage of the post-crisis demand.
- Engage with policy-makers
If small businesses are the lifeblood of an economy, then policy-makers must be prepared to offer them contingency plans in times of crisis. If your government is yet to take steps to aid small businesses—whether through small business or disaster loans—it’s high time to grab their attention.
Individually or through recognized unions or alliances, there’s social media, email, and many other channels that can help entrepreneurs reach out to relevant government agencies and policy-makers. Whatever the medium, it’s crucial to impart to them that small businesses, being such a significant part of the economy, need relief.
- Focus on the lesson
Every challenge comes with a lesson. If you fail to learn from what happened, then you’re bound to make the same mistakes. In this case, if the current pandemic still failed to convince you that preparing for the worst is vital, then you might not come out of the next crisis as successful as before.
It’s best to focus on solving the problem and not the pain and anxiety it is causing because doing so may leave you paralyzed in fear. Your judgment may be too clouded to make the right steps, as well. You can choose to think of the problem as a puzzle that you want to solve, so you’re better motivated to analyze it and come up with a solution.
In the end, the first step for you to come out of any small business challenges successfully is to plan it out even while you’re still riding high, because the moment something wrong happens, then it may already be too late. Taking proactive steps will put you in a secure position and recover faster once all is back to normal.