How Our Businesses Will Continue To Move Forward Post-Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every business in some way or another, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. While companies like Amazon and Zoom have thrived amid the pandemic, it’s been crushing for the thousands of small businesses that have had to permanently close their doors. Those that have survived have had to rethink how they do business to adapt to our new reality, and it’s likely that many of those changes will continue into the post-pandemic world.
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Invest In Marketing
“Reinvesting in marketing is key,” said Todd Hollander, head of business banking at Union Bank. “A recent Union Bank consumer spending survey showed that for 35% of shoppers, a lack of awareness and advertising are barriers to shopping at small businesses. It’s critical for small businesses — many of which pulled back on marketing spend this past year — to reengage with their customers and keep their products and services top of mind.”
Businesses can also market themselves organically by connecting with customers on social media or via email.
“Businesses need to stay in touch with their customers and fans,” said Gerri Detweiler, education director at Nav.com. “Those that had email lists or active social media followings were better able to navigate the uncertainty when the pandemic struck. Some were able to use that information to transition to online sales.”
Develop a Plan To Pay Off Debt
As of September 2020, roughly 74% of small-business owners had taken on debt to cope with the financial losses due to the coronavirus crisis, a Lending Tree survey found.
“Even when the pandemic is over, businesses will be handling debt. That’s especially true for the smallest businesses,” Hollander said. “Good planning and a reliable financial partner are keys to make sure a small business has the capital it needs to take advantage of an expanding economy.”
Keep Health and Safety Measures in Place
“Practices put in place for health and safety reasons that promoted convenience for the customer will stay,” Hollander said. “Things like contactless payment options will remain. The same Union Bank survey showed that many (40%) wanted safety measures like curbside pickup in place, and that’s another service that — now widely adopted — will likely persist.”
Offer Online Shopping and Other Services
“The Union Bank survey showed that most (51%) holiday shoppers were more likely to spend at small businesses if they offered online ordering,” Hollander said.
Businesses that do not have an online buying option should add one ASAP, as this is now expected by consumers. In addition to retailers and restaurants moving their offerings online, service-based industries should also offer digital options.
“Many veterinarians, doctors, attorneys and other professional services implemented telehealth or virtual appointments for their patients and clients to ensure care and service could continue,” said Jeff Fazio, head of small business specialists at TD Bank. “Although these options were adopted in larger numbers out of necessity, these offerings are often more convenient and efficient for the customer and will likely continue as we adapt to a post-COVID world.”
Use This Opportunity To Acquire Other Businesses
“Before the pandemic, there was already a tremendous number of business owners wanting to sell their businesses. This past year has left many wanting to get out,” Detweiler said. “That means opportunity for those businesses that survive to grow by acquiring other businesses, or just their equipment or space.”
Look For Ways To Cut Expenses and Accelerate Cash Flow
“Businesses will need to continue spending time evaluating their sales and supply chains to see where they can cut expenses based on their business needs to ensure they are making the most of their capital,” Fazio said. “In addition, if businesses are facing cash flow problems, they will need to accelerate their revenue cycles by using methods such as automated receivables, mobile check deposits and positive pay for checks or ACH. Small businesses should speak with their financial institution to understand how these products work and to understand any fees that may be associated with each.”
Have a Plan in Place for Future Emergencies
“One of the biggest lessons learned of the past year is preparation so as to not be caught off-guard if a crisis of this magnitude occurs again,” Fazio said. “In fact, TD Bank’s Small Business Survey showed that 81% of small businesses didn’t have a disaster plan pre-COVID. However, 69% of respondents said they will plan for a future crisis by building stable finance and cash reserves, enhancing business model flexibility, and improving budgeting and accounting methods to cut costs.”
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