When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, communities rallied to help small businesses.
We saw “shop local” initiatives, gift card purchases, and fundraising campaigns. As the pandemic drags on, recovery for small-business owners is likely to feel daunting.
Continue to pull up those bootstraps to stay relevant, stay connected, and push through this pandemic-era business slump. Here are a few ways to do that.
1. Add a dash of creativityThe hard truth is sales can still be a struggle and doors may be on the verge of closing but people are still spending money. Apply your creative chops and consider a way to create a new or different avenue of income to keep wallets open and products moving off the shelves.
Develop a passive income stream in your niche. Remember that phrase, “make money while you sleep?” Passive income is a way to generate money through a product or service without having to work that business full-time. Think about books, e-books, online courses, podcasts, a You-Tube Channel, and even blogs that can earn extra cash.
Sounds like a lot of work? Yes. Nothing is truly passive, but by putting in the work upfront, you have a new way to grow your brand, remain relevant, and generate ongoing income.
2. Prioritize connection
Community is all around you. Strengthen current connections and make some new ones.
Keep targeting social media followers, but upgrade your posts with smarter promotions. With billions of active users, social networking giants have many opportunities for your brand to engage with consumers. Go beyond blasting followers with products and service posts. Invite them behind the scenes, engage them in your business story and create a relationship.
Don’t forget to engage with your local chamber of commerce, entrepreneur groups, and other professional organizations for camaraderie and brainstorming. Rub elbows and do business using locally sourced materials — supporting other businesses earns you good karma.
“Move forward by giving back,” is one of our core values at Arrowhead Consulting. Volunteering and helping non-profits can make a positive impact on employee and team engagement. This kind of community connection allows for smarter promotions, as mentioned above.
3. Go back to basics
Examine your business plan and reflect, reorganize, or even rebuild. What is the current health of your organization? Do you truly know?
Harvard Business Review notes that business owners must understand what their stakeholders’ behaviors look like during the pandemic and what they will be after the pandemic. Behaviors might return to their pre-crisis state; some will be transformed, while others will disappear entirely.
Look at your company structure. Businesses licensed as LLCs reduce risk by protecting personal assets. Less paperwork and tax advantages also make this option ideal for many small businesses.
For retailers, now may be the time to determine if in-store upgrades are a worthwhile endeavor. Brick-and-mortar stores still give customers an experience not easily replaced by a website. Your location must evolve to create and maintain meaningful connections — becoming an experience hub rather than simply a point of sale.
Business ownership in any given year involves many ups and downs. Challenges in a pandemic, those molehills feel like mountains. Don’t let these conditions keep you down.
It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so give yourself and your company the best odds at success, even as COVID continues to throw a wrench in the operation.
Kris Reynolds is managing partner and CEO of Arrowhead Consulting, a Project Management Professional, international speaker and trainer to companies and nonprofit organizations in numerous industries.