The past year was brutal to most businesses. Even household names such as J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, Sears, Brooks Brothers, and Toys R Us all folded after the pandemic-induced recession. It was bad for big brands that have corporate backing.
It was worse for small businesses.
Across the United States, it is estimated that roughly 200,000 establishments closed permanently in 2020 because of the pandemic. An additional 9 million more are worried that they may not survive long enough for the economy to return to normal.
The situation is dire for small businesses that survived the past year and, as the pandemic stretches far longer than anyone was prepared for, entrepreneurs can expect to experience more hardships along the way.
Can small businesses bounce back? If yes, how?
Take Advantage of Digital Advertising
The consumers are all online. In the past year, the businesses that not only managed to survive but find success were the ones that either already had a strong online presence before the pandemic or were able to immediately transition online.
Because of social distancing and the convenience that it offers, consumers are increasingly becoming dependent on e-commerce to procure their needs.
So, when the pandemic inevitably ends, small businesses should take advantage of digital marketing. It is accessible to everyone, it is affordable, and, most importantly, it is effective.
Entrepreneurs who do not know their way around the internet should consult with an experienced business marketing coach who can provide a guide and help create a memorable campaign online to boost brand recall and visibility. An ingenious campaign can set the business apart from competitors.
One survey in the United Kingdom found that, although most small business owners are aware of the value of digital advertising, about 40 percent are not utilizing it to grow.
The power of digital marketing is its ability to reach your target audience. An ad can, for example, be seen by people within your neighborhood where your shop is located. It can also be optimized so that a social media post can show up on the feed of consumers who are looking for specific products and services.
Having a presence online would not automatically bring in more revenue to the business. Consumers would not trust and support a brand without an effective marketing campaign.
Review Money Going Out
When money is tight, one of the first things that business owners are expected to do is to cut costs.
During the pandemic, while a small business might have reduced their expenses, because of the lack of demand, they likely pumped all that money they saved on other sectors. For example, in order to entice new clients, they might have increased their spending on marketing.
To survive the pandemic, small business owners need to have better control of their finances. They should look at which products and services are still doing well during the pandemic and which ones are no longer selling. Focusing all energy and resources on what works now will reduce unnecessary expenses and save money.
When life goes back to normal, it is also worth reassessing your inventory to see if there are items that still have the potential to sell in the new world. You have to know your customers. What are they looking for? What do they expect from you?
Sometimes, all that you need to do is ask.
The pandemic was devastating for all. The tragedies from the past year have awakened a desire to help one another in the midst of the ongoing crisis.
If one member of the community is in dire need of help, the rest will be willing to stand up and offer their aid. Open up to the community, share that the small business that you are running is suffering because of the economic impact of the pandemic, and tell them how they can help.
A plea to shop local will encourage people to support small homegrown businesses. Members of the community can also band together to provide financial aid for rent or other expenses.
In times of crisis, there is no room for shyness. Reaching out to those who care is part of the solution.
Running a business during the pandemic is a test of ingenuity, adaptability, courage, and resilience. The fact that you survive the past year, which has been filled with obstacles and challenges, is a testament to strength and dedication. But, the battle does not end with the pandemic. When life goes back to normal, your business will need to continue fighting for survival.