The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has been especially hard on small businesses. Some have closed permanently, while others are still struggling to survive. Approximately three out of every 10 small businesses still open are in critical condition and may not last the year without further assistance. Small business owners should certainly be taking advantage of aid programs to stay open — but there are other ways entrepreneurs can strengthen their companies and give them the boost they need. Here are some changes to consider, if you’re trying to keep your businesses healthy during the ongoing pandemic.
Keep Up With an Increasingly Digitized Economy
One lasting change the pandemic has wrought is that the move toward a largely digital market has accelerated. A business that wants to stay competitive — during the public health crisis, as well as after — needs to stay abreast of these transformations. Do an assessment of your company’s digital functions and see where upgrades may be needed. Check your website to see if it is mobile-friendly, as well as aesthetically appealing. An optimized website should load quickly and be easy to navigate — otherwise, customers may get frustrated and look elsewhere. It’s also essential that you invest in up-to-date digital marketing techniques. This means increasing your SEO visibility, in general, and (unless your business is fully digital) making sure you show up in local searches. And don’t neglect to make the most of social media!
Ensure Your Products and Services Align with Market Demand
It’s not just the infrastructure of our economy that has changed. Customer demand has altered, as well, in alignment with changes to our lifestyle — many of which may be here to stay. For instance, take-out and ordering services are likely to remain popular and home gym equipment in high demand. Businesses need to stay ahead of the curve, when it comes to trends in customer preferences, and shift their focus when needed. So if you are a restaurant owner, think about how you can make your food delivery options faster and easier to use. Consider whether your location and setup are conducive to the needs of a post-pandemic buying populace, too, especially with customers’ heightened concerns about health and safety.
Communicate With Clients
In the past year, business owners have had to learn to be more flexible, creative, and resourceful, even when the future has been hard to predict. The uncertainty we are living with is present in the lives of customers and clients, too. That means it is even more important to maintain lines of communication with them so they know that you are still in business and your services still available. Let your customers know that they can count on you to be there for them and that you are interested in their feedback. Having a good digital presence, as mentioned above, will aid you in sustaining ongoing communication, especially if you are making changes to your business that the public should be aware of.
Plan for the Future
Meeting the demands of the here and now is good, but having a plan for the future is even better. Do you need to take out loans or apply for grants to avoid potential cash flow problems? Can you do it on your own, or will you need to outsource certain tasks, such as accounting or marketing, to keep your customers happy? If you haven’t already registered your business as an LLC (limited liability company) — or you are trying to restart a business that has been inactive — remember that, as an LLC, your company can expect additional liability protections and tax savings. Check your state’s regulations on LLC formation, and use a formation service to save money on fees and avoid a red-tape headache.
It is understandable if you are anxious about your business, but try to stay positive! If you are flexible and willing to make changes when needed, you should be able to ride out this challenging time. Remember that many resources are available to help your company survive because your community and economy are invested in your success, too. For entrepreneurs hoping to increase marketing potential, reach out to ApexReach to ask about SEO and other services. Call (312) 741-4020 for a free consultation.