5 Takeaways from Pandemic for Small Business Owners
The Covid 19 pandemic hit the world like an unexpected hail storm with gargantuan severity and the effect is still being felt by everyone. The deadly pandemic does not spare anyone and people from all walks of life are at risk. Apart from the health risk, the outbreak has posed to be a serious threat for businesses of varying types and sizes. It is not only the MNCs and giant companies operating across the continents that have been impacted by it. The small and midsized businesses, badly hit by the pandemic and its after-effects, are struggling for survival. As the world gradually returns to normalcy, it is time the small businesses try to learn some key lessons from the situation.
Takeaways for the small-sized businesses from the pandemic
Flexibility is the key to survival
The small businesses must learn how to be flexible if they have to survive in a pandemic struck the world. How flexibility in the workflow will be implemented can be planned and that may not be the same for every business. Some companies have benefitted by introducing rotational shifts in the workplace. Working from a home mode that has been embraced by many big companies can be followed by the small ones too. However, in some instances that may not be viable for small entities. Flexibility can be introduced in other ways too. For example, small ventures can be flexible about payment modes, online booking, arranging customer pick-ups, etc.
Online presence is vital
Nearly every business that has to sustain in a competitive scene has a website but that alone may not be enough in a pandemic situation. Even if a company is small, it needs to be more present online. It can be done in many ways. One is hiring a website developer to build a professional website. If the funds don’t allow it, leveraging social media like a Facebook or an Instagram page can also help generate more sales online.
Post the lockdown triggered by the Covid 19 pandemic, millions of people managed to get the supply of foods and medicine through websites and mobile apps. When people cannot go out of their homes to buy things and avail services, they resort to the web. An app can prove to be a savior in such situations. Or, if you’re in the service business, consider creating an online course that trains your customers on how to do some of the things that you usually do for them. It may seem counterintuitive to train your customers, but oftentimes they won’t do as good of a job as you do and they’ll be more willing to hire you after seeing how much expertise your craft requires
Customer and staff safety is of utmost importance
After the outbreak of Covid 19 on a global scale, thousands of businesses were compelled to halt their operations for some time and others even had to close permanently. These included small local businesses, start-ups, and midsized ventures. When they gradually resumed operations amidst the lockdown, the companies that focused on safety aspects raced ahead of others. The prime examples are the medicine delivery and food delivery companies. They focused on maintaining health standards at the workplace, educating their staff on following key safety protocols, and assuring the customers about safety. They tweaked their apps and sites to make the customers aware of these aspects. This worked well and the customers relied on these companies big time. This can be followed by small companies for wooing skeptical customers.
Going digital can benefit everyone involved
The transition to digital technology is not exactly new. Worldwide, millions of companies including the small ones are embracing digital technology in many ways. However, the unexpected outbreak of Covid 19 made it clear that embracing digital technology is the only way to survive. A lot of businesses are now encouraging customers to use digital modes of payment such as debit cards and wallets, UPIs, etc. Cash transactions are no longer encouraged. Interior design firms and packers and movers’ services have introduced an online survey of client premises over physical assessment for safety. Small businesses can also benefit from deploying similar tactics.
Adaptation helps a business survive
Adapting according to the situation can help a company survive. It has been made clear by the pandemic and resultant lockdown. A section of companies that were forced to suspend their core operations switched to operations allowed in a pandemic situation and managed to float. There are eateries that had to stop dine-in services. However, they managed to sustain itself by offering curbside pickups and home delivery services. Of course, they added sanitization as a part of their services.
Other key tips for small businesses to sustain in a pandemic
Putting A Focus On Customer Service – If you want your venture to remain on a growth track, focusing on customer service quality is important. In a pandemic struck situation, it becomes even more important. The customers are stressed and worried and reassurance from a service provider can make them happy. Walking an extra mile in such situations to keep the customers happy can make a large difference. Even an acknowledgment stating your company is doing its best to offer customer service with a reduced workforce can work.
Communication Matters A Lot – When the pandemic hit the world and led to an unexpected shutdown of major services, everyone was in a state of confusion and panic. The companies that made extra efforts to communicate to the customers managed to survive and race ahead of the rivals. For a small business, it is absolutely important to keep communication channels open. Using social media platforms and apps to let the customers know about measures taken by your venture can work well.
Tweaking The Expenses Is Vital – As a matter of fact, the large-sized companies and MNCs switched to aggressive cost-cutting measures to sustain in the post-pandemic scenario. Many of them slashed the salary of their employees and switched to layoffs too. The small ventures may also resort to some cost-cutting measures to stay afloat in similar situations. While laying off may not work everywhere, spending less after advertisements and finding cheaper vendors can be tried out. A small eatery may think of reducing the number of dishes on the menu and offer popular items, for example.
Taking Feedbacks Is Useful – It is a fact that a majority of businesses, including the SMBs, were not prepared for the severe onslaught of the Covid 19 pandemic. They adapted to new methods and working plans to survive the after-effects of the outbreak. However, the transition is not always buttering smooth! While switching to new operational modes and service switching, facing certain hurdles is inevitable. Some such hurdles include coping with irate customers, delays in product delivery, the safety of staff, etc. So, small companies can start taking feedback from the customers and their staff. Taking feedback will help the companies realize the pain points faced by both their customers and employees. They can thereafter tweak their working strategies to eliminate those hurdles.
Slow And Steady Works – While the lockdown is being lifted worldwide, it will still take a long time before life returns to normalcy, for sure. It is time for the small businesses to adopt a slow and steady approach rather than getting in a mad race to woo the customers. They also need to plan and prepare well for similar such onslaughts in the future. A bit of saving and developing an emergency fund can be immensely helpful in the long run.
Summing it up
The pandemic has come as an unexpected huge blow to everyone, including the SMBs. However, it has also served as an eye-opener for many! Adversity can be overcome when you manage to keep your cool amidst stress and think logically. Adapting to changes is the key to survival in this context. Small businesses need to be flexible, plan strategically, and be open to embracing changes to survive in such situations.
Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash