Small businesses took a major hit during the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly one in four, or 23%, of small businesses say they lost revenue as a result, and 11% had to temporarily close, according to a 2021 survey of over 2,400 current and aspiring small business owners by Guidant Financial and the Small Business Trends Alliance.
Still, 78% of small businesses expect to survive the pandemic.
If you're a small business owner or are considering starting a business, it can be hard to come up with the strategies that can help you get by, and even grow, during these uncertain times. Here are three tips from career coach Angelina Darrisaw.
One major change in consumer behavior throughout the pandemic has been the shift to online shopping, as people continue to practice social distancing measures and stay home.
To capitalize on the trend, "I would say this is your time, now more than ever, to embrace digital tools," says Darrisaw. "If your website isn't all the way together, now would be the time to correct that. If you're not leveraging online ad campaigns, now would be the time to start learning about them."
Video by Mariam Abdallah
Take some time to research what online activities your competitors and other businesses in similar fields are taking on to grow their brands, and see how you can begin using them, too.
There are also plenty of opportunities to learn how to leverage platforms that could help your business grow and that won't cost you anything.
"Many of the large tech companies have free education tools," says Darrisaw. "For instance, Facebook has a tool called Blueprint where you can learn all about how to maximize your Facebook and your Instagram. Google has a whole bunch of tools through a program called Grow with Google. … LinkedIn has a bunch of courses through the LinkedIn Learning platform."
Carve out time regularly to take advantage of these courses and tutorials, and train yourself to use these platforms to your advantage. "I would be learning everything I can about digital and trying to see how I can reach customers," says Darrisaw.
Many business owners had to rethink their business strategies in order to survive the pandemic. Happy Valley Meat Company, for example, which supplied meat from local Pennsylvania farms to New York City restaurants, figured out how to sell directly to consumers at the onset of the pandemic.
And escape room company Puzzle Break figured out how to make compelling virtual experiences during the lockdowns of 2020.
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It's important to be prepared for as many scenarios as possible. "I'd also be thinking about where I might need to pivot," says Darrisaw.
Think of who your customer base is and of all of the different ways you can reach it. Consider, too, if there is another customer base you could be serving. "Are there any areas of untapped opportunity that matter in this moment?" says Darrisaw. This is a great time to find them.
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