How to Keep Your Small Business Going During the Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been easy on small businesses. Many were forced to close during the initial outbreak, and now that they’ve reopened, small businesses everywhere are struggling to get back on their feet. Between rehiring employees and making customers feel safe, small business owners have a lot on their plate right now. It’s more true than ever that you simply can’t do it all, but thriving during the pandemic isn’t as impossible as it may seem!
Consider these tips to keep your business moving forward as you navigate the pandemic.
Secure Your Financing
Whether you’re trying to launch a startup after a career setback or get your business back on track after the shutdown, securing funding should be your top priority. Fortunately, you may be eligible for a variety of small business loans, grants, and benefits available through government agencies and nonprofits. For example, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has established several programs to help small businesses weather the pandemic, including paycheck protection, debt relief, bridge loans, and economic relief loans for small businesses experiencing lost revenue.
When it comes to non-government funding options, companies like ZenBusiness offer informational resources to connect you with funding sources, financial planning facts, and other guidance for small businesses in need of assistance. Do some research online to see what kind of financial help is available to you!
Perhaps you had to lay off several of your employees, or maybe most of them. If your business is picking up but you can’t afford to bring back full-time employees, it’s time to consider outsourcing certain tasks to virtual assistants. For starters, a virtual assistant can be a boon for busy entrepreneurs, and there are VAs for everything from administrative to IT to social media marketing to graphic design. And when you work with a virtual staffing agency like 20four7VA, you can count on vetted and trained staff you can hire without a long-term commitment and no upfront fees.
Upgrade Your Website
While many businesses are suffering through the pandemic, some are thriving. The businesses that are doing the best right now are those that consumers can access online. If you only run a brick-and-mortar store, now is the time to establish an online presence for your business by building a website with eCommerce functionality. Outsource this project to an experienced VA web developer for the best results.
Already have a website? You’re one step ahead of 49% of small business owners in the country. Just make sure your site is prepared to meet the demands of today’s consumers. Your website needs to be modern, attractive, user-friendly, and responsive on all devices. According to Multichannel Merchant, a whopping 80% of consumers shop via their smartphones, so make sure your website works flawlessly on mobile phones and tablets.
Expand to New Sales Channels
Attracting more customers to your online business might be as simple as expanding your business to reach new sales channels. You can use social media, online marketplaces, and even third-party sellers to get your products in front of interested customers who can make purchases without navigating back to your website.
You could even find service providers to offer your products alongside their services. This is a great option for local businesses! For example, if you sell home decor, you could partner with a local interior designer. Start brainstorming ideas to expand your business beyond direct sales.
Make Your Customers Feel Safe
If you have a physical space for your business, consider making some upgrades to make your customers feel safe while shopping. Ramp up your cleaning measures, rearrange your store layout to allow for social distancing, provide hand sanitizer to store visitors, and offer curbside pickup for concerned shoppers. If your store is very small, implement a one-way traffic flow with directional arrows. Consider temporarily banning reusable shopping bags or requiring that customers wear masks in your store.
Signage can also help your customers feel better about the precautions you’re taking. For example, you could put up signs that explain what you’re doing to protect customers, like limiting store capacity or preferring contactless payments over cash. You can even use digital signage to provide information on product availability and direct people to where they can find essential products so they can get in and out of your store quickly. These store improvements should be fairly affordable to implement since you can handle them on your own without hiring outside help!
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has set back numerous small businesses across the world. But overcoming the challenges posed by the pandemic might be easier than you’re anticipating. This is the time to double down on your virtual presence, take advantage of available funding solutions, and make updates to your retail space. With a few tweaks, you’ll be back in business!
About the Author:
This guest post is written by Katie Conroy, creator of AdviceMine.com.