With COVID-19 still making its way around the world, many small businesses are struggling to survive with little cash reserves or capital to handle a prolonged closure. Indeed, rent, payroll, inventory and other obligations make paying the bills without any reliable source of income a problem for many of the U.S.’s 28.8 million small businesses. And while some areas are slowly relaxing social restrictions, allowing consumers to get back to supporting the shops and services they love, many cities still enforce a policy for social distancing that makes normal commerce impossible. If your small business is trying to weather hard times, here are a few tips for driving growth and staying afloat:
Do Your Research
While it might seem counterintuitive to take on any expense during a pandemic, a little research could provide customer insights that enable you to amend your products and/or services in ways that best match consumer needs. You don’t have to spend a lot; you can easily set up analytics on your website or add a quick poll or survey to one of your pages. You could also monitor and respond to social media sites and chats mentioning your brand. Keeping your eye on consumers and asking the right questions can help you anticipate their (new) demands.
Build Customer Loyalty
Small businesses often survive a crisis by cultivating customer loyalty; begin with a pattern of honest and direct communication and deliver on what you promise. One article from Harvard Business Review recommends a “HEART framework of sustained crisis communication” by which a company recognizes the crisis at hand, educates its customers regarding the actions being taken to tackle that crisis and reemphasizes its values and beliefs while outlining existing and new goals for the future. By maintaining open and honest dialogue with customers, you prompt their trust and loyalty in you, making them more apt to help when the chips are down.
If you haven’t cultivated a network of partners yet, now’s the time to reach out to people. Not only do you need to retain customers during a crisis, you need to get new ones. And word of mouth can be key when other resources and opportunities are scarce. Attend events that allow you to showcase your brand; partner with influencers who are able to work on your behalf; and establish services with vendors that could benefit you both. Pursuing relationships will build awareness of and for your brand. In meantime, you can pay stub maker and always check for your incomes.
Think about offering consumers a new product or a new process. This could mean you rearrange your business model to offer subscriptions or memberships. It may be that you reduce or add to your product or service offerings. Or maybe you target a new market altogether. Use some of the insights you gather from your research (mentioned above) to meet consumers in the here and now.
Whatever you choose, remain confident and optimistic and open to change. Driving growth during a pandemic will depend on you well you can adapt to changing demand!