While social distancing is necessary for the fight against the ravaging coronavirus, it has been catastrophic for many small businesses, especially those relying on in-person activities to thrive. From restaurants to gift shops to cleaning services, there’s no doubt small businesses are paying the ultimate price of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies have been forced to change their normal to figure out how to survive.
While big businesses are not hardest hit, they are also feeling the heat, but they can survive. No doubt, no singular economic distractor has had an effect as uniformly devastating as the abrupt shutdown of most of the world’s economy to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Being at a standstill is the situation millions of small businesses find themselves in. In a nutshell, many small business owners are in perilous water of uncertainty, with no sign of safe harbour just yet.
However, even with the uncertainty and things going south, many entrepreneurs have been resourceful and innovative, and tales of impressive pivots to keep some money flowing have been told. Here are some key ways small businesses have navigated this pandemic.
Offering curbside pickup and delivery services
We know that restaurants and retailers are hardest hit by the lockdown restrictions and social distancing requirements in many countries. It has sent home many small businesses operating in the sector, forcing many jobless. But even with that, many small business owners have found a way around it by introducing curbside pickup and delivery services. For businesses that already had a corresponding e-commerce site or online delivery platform, transitioning to pickup and delivery only was a walk in the park. But even those who didn’t have these services in place are catching up rather quickly. One way is by letting your customers know you are offering these services at your business now. Another technique is promoting through your social media channels and taking orders by email and phone. To start offering these services, many small business owners had to retrain their staff, which means keeping jobs and contributing to the economy.
Many are offering business services virtually
With many countries implementing lockdown restrictions (either full or partial) and social distancing guidelines, many people are prevented from gathering. While these are standard procedures for containing the spread of COVID-19, they have an advanced effect on small businesses that depend on foot-traffic and in-person sales. But even with these restrictions, many small businesses have found a haven in technology. They are now using various technological platforms to serve their customers and manage their employees. A good example is companies like ProPay, which has been widely adopted during this pandemic to manage employees. The system makes it easy for businesses to onboard, track, pay, and support their employees. Another great example is gym instructors now offering personal training sessions through video chat.
Working with partners
While this pandemic has pushed many businesses to the wall, it has revealed our human nature. We are all fighting a common invisible enemy right now, so many people have been understanding and supportive. Many small businesses have not closed down due to rent arrears because landlords have been kind enough to offer them rent deferral. We’ve also seen suppliers adjusting their payment terms. Banks and Access Accelerator have also come in to help out small businesses with business continuity needs. They have provided flexible loans and other funding to small business owners. We’ve also witnessed many mortgage lenders allowing clients to defer payments for a while, thus helping small businesses keep more cash.
A new way of staying in touch with their customers
Now that restrictions dictate that people should stay at home as much as possible, we’ve seen many small businesses adopting the new norm of staying in touch with their customers through email and social media. Those businesses that have been collecting customer email addresses in the past adopted faster than those who had to start building their contact database. Small businesses can easily promote their new hustles through emails and social media. Even businesses that were shut down when the pandemic advanced have found their way back to operating. Many companies are now emailing their contact list and promoting gift cards to their businesses with no expiration date. Ensure that you are posting regularly during this pandemic to stay on top of your customers’ minds. This helps many small businesses keep their customers engaged with their brand even though they can’t visit their physical business locations.
Diversified their services
Let’s face it, when COVID-19 cases increased, many people offering various services were declared redundant because of the nature of those services. In other words, many clienteles just won’t be able to make use of their products or services anymore. For instance, small businesses offering cleaning services found themselves between a rock and a hard place because their regular clients understandably didn’t want people coming into their homes. Such companies had to switch gears to something else, like offering sterilization and disinfection services. Of course, the demand might not be as high as usual, but at least they continue operating during this challenging time.
We can all agree that during these unprecedented times, small business owners remain a resilient group, always remaining innovative in finding new and better ways to stay afloat. Even as they tend to their daily hustle, they understand that their health is equally important; therefore, they don’t forget to take care of themselves. Small business owners have demonstrated the importance of strong fundamentals and leadership in navigating through these uncertain times. The increasing penetration of data and internet services plays a pivotal role in the adoption of remote working and customer interaction. With platforms such as ProPay, you don’t need to worry anymore about staff management. Small businesses also have been forced to adapt to the changing preferences and motivation of customers. Continue to support small businesses as they pivot to remain in operation and relevant during this time.