By The Biz Team (Siam)
The COVID pandemic is may be slowly tapering out, but in its wake it has left a path of destruction for many small businesses. A significant number of small businesses have not survived, but for those that have, they will face many challenges ahead. Besides new operational challenges and novel customer expectations, they also have steep competition from giants like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Costco. Recovery for these small businesses will not be immediate and may take years. A recent survey by the McKinsey Global Institute reveals that most small businesses will face severe hiccups during recovery and unfortunately, even those that have survived the pandemic may end closing permanently. Rest assured, all is not gloom and doom; experts in finance say that those who have survived can increase their longevity by adopting the following principles.
PLAN AHEAD: There is no question that the effects of the pandemic are going to linger on for some time and to avoid the negative repercussions, small businesses will need to plan. This time around they should not be caught with their pants down. The key is to find novel ways to serve customers and yet not compromise health.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR TEAM: There is a great deal of uncertainty about COVID and many people remain confused. The confusion stems from the vast amount of conflicting data being released on cyberspace. Hence, the small business owner should read up on COVID and communicate the facts to them. Always be honest and clear so that the team feels safe and confident. Also, talk to the suppliers to avoid any bottlenecks that were so common a few months ago. If you anticipate cash flow issues, talk to the bank and suppliers before things get critical. Finally, always keep the customer up to date on your product and services. Know what the customer expects and make an effort to deliver.
INCREASE YOUR KNOWLEDGE: All small business owners need to be proactive with knowing the changes to employment insurance. The owner needs to know the eligibility criteria and when and how to claim the money. The financial assistance offered by the federal government is rapidly changing and one needs to be aware of what is going on. At the same time, the owner should monitor key metrics about the business to detect any warning signs of potential problems. A fall in online traffic requires you take prompt action. Finally, the owner should read over the business insurance policy and determine what it covers in the case there is a problem. Insurance policies are notorious for inserting clauses in the small text that can leave the owner in a bad predicament.
USE AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY: One of the things that COVID has brought forth is the influx of online business. Thus, all small businesses should introduce technology like zoom and loom to communicate with consumers. Also, technology can instantly help improve the efficiency and delivery of information.
DIVERSIFY: If there is a chance that you can offer another service to the customer, do it. For example, you may have a walk-in fast food restaurant but because of social distancing, you can only permit a few customers at a time. To avoid losing customers, offer home delivery. Start an online customer service, take orders and deliver at home. This is an excellent way to continue with the business without sacrificing customer health. There continues to be an increase of companies that offer food delivery.
COMBINE FORCES: One other way to ensure survival is to talk to your competitors and join forces. Everyone is in the same boat and with combined forces, you may be able to do the things not possible if you were working alone.
REJUVENATE: If you have neglected part of your business due to various reasons, now is the time to take charge. Focus on how you can reconnect with your customers and improve customer service. If your online platform is slow, improve the efficiency. No customer likes to be kept waiting.
ADJUST TO THE CUSTOMER'S NEEDS: The Corona virus pandemic has made the customer invaluable and you have to adjust to their needs. You may need to change how you communicate with them and/or how you conduct a business transaction. Today, the customer has many options when it comes to shopping and you need to maintain a good relationship to keep them from going elsewhere.
INCREASE EFFICIENCY: The majority of small businesses have lost income over the past months and you may need to do things to ramp up the operations. Review your business operations and determine where you need improvement of efficiency.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE COMPETITION: Look at other businesses and see what they are doing to cope with the virus pandemic. Perhaps you may learn a few things from them.
EMERGENCY FUND: The current economic times are rough on everyone, especially small businesses, so create an emergency fund. No one can predict how the economy will perform over the next few months or years and thus is it vital to have some money saved in case of an emergency.
The COVID pandemic has made life miserable for many small business owners. While the country is slowly opening up, there is no telling what will happen with the economy in the near future. Thus, all small business owners need to be proactive and prepared. It is vital to learn from past experiences and improve on any deficits in the business. For those who do make the effort, there is no reason why they cannot survive the crisis. The important thing is to start making the changes today.