5 Tips for Propelling your Small Business Forward in an Uncertain Economy
The business has always been a gamble, but finding ways to keep your company financially stable during a period of global economic hardship might feel like an impossible undertaking.
Small business owners are faced with restrictions, dwindling consumer bases, and reduced profits that threaten their entire livelihood on a daily basis; recovering from the sustained economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic requires both personal and professional tactics. Taking care of yourself is just as important as tending to your business.
Self-care helps prevent burnout and ensures you can focus on your business's growth without succumbing to overwhelming stress and anxiety. From the professional front, there are several things you can do to stimulate growth or, at the least, keep your revenue stable during these uncertain times. The following suggestions are designed to help you build your own personal recovery strategy; they focus on the greatest challenges that confront small business owners during economic instability, namely return on investment, customer acquisition and profitability. While it will take time for every company to find its place in the new landscape, planning ahead and integrating new strategies can reduce and possibly prevent significant loss.
Offer Greater Employee Flexibility
Many are scared about losing their jobs, and that fear can directly impact work performance. Your employees count on you to provide them with stability and assurance during periods of uncertainty. To accommodate them means to invest in their own lives and recognize your role in their wellbeing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the roles of businesses and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic and offers advice on ways to mitigate changes efficiently and effectively.
The bottom line is that when your workers feel secure, they can perform better. Someone who is afraid of being laid off any minute may not be able to do their job as they need to. Anxiety and stress can contribute to a poor work environment that impacts everyone, including your customers. Taking care of your employees is crucial because it helps create a stable foundation for your entire organization during this time.
Forecast Potential Losses
It's one thing to know that your company is losing money; it's another entirely to predict what areas of operations will be hit the hardest in the coming months. When you are able to pinpoint specific problems facing your business, you can begin to come up with preventative solutions faster. Rather than solely reacting to loss or negative change, you can implement proactive strategies. Consider the following areas most likely to be hit by an economic downslide:
- Fewer sales
- Customer cancellations
- Supply chain disruption
- Reduced employee counts due to illness or personal loss
To combat reduced sales, marketing, promotions and even lowering costs is important. Cancellations might not be fully preventable if you offer services linked to your customers' own work. However, by opening a line of communication, clients might be willing to negotiate their payments and stay onboard. Sometimes, clients simply don't realize they have an alternative to their current arrangement, and they don't feel comfortable asking for a lower price. Supply chain disruption can be sudden, but you should also stay in touch with your manufacturers or other vendors. Is there a way to cut costs and acquire some supplies locally? A slightly higher cost for a closer manufacturer might be offset by an increase in sales due to greater availability and faster service.
Rebuild Your Website
Make sure that your website has a visible message about your company's response to COVID-19 and any other hardships your customers might worry about. There should also be plenty of keyword optimization to make sure that your website is being shown to as many people in your target audience as possible. Keep in mind that in response to economic changes, business models must shift as well. This means that you need to update your site to reflect any changes, including the different needs of your audience.
Updating and strengthening your website and its content can have two benefits. First, you can position yourself as a confident, trustworthy figure amidst the uncertainty with SEO-friendly content. What are your consumers researching right now, and how can you tie that into your company's solutions? Second, you could be able to leverage your updated site on social media to attract new customers. Consider offering more expansive delivery or pickup options as well. Traditional brick-and-mortar locations have taken to selling supplies and even offering curbside pickup for their goods to make shopping easier and safer for customers.
Get Your Personal Finances Sorted Out
When your business is at risk of losing a significant amount of money, you have to find as many ways to save as possible. This means turning to your own personal finances and looking for areas to cut back. Do you need to refinance a loan? Could you pay off any small debts to make room in your budget? If you find too many things are outstanding, a personal loan could help you get your finances in order. Personal loans can be in any amount you want, vary in interest rates, and have no obligation until you agree to the terms. You might be wondering why you would take out a loan if your company is suffering; although you aren't using the borrowed funds for your company, they can help you cover the cost of bills, living expenses, and credit card payments to ensure you don't fall behind if there's a lapse in income. If you don't have the financial stability to cope with losses, you can also consider solutions such as a business line of credit.
Expand Your Services
If there is anything your company offers that could be provided remotely or adapted to a virtual model, now is the time to adjust. During any period of financial hardship, people will seek out solutions that are both affordable and accessible. The sooner you can meet a potential consumer's need, the better, and nothing is faster these days than the internet.
Virtual assistance, either through video consultations or phone conferences, can supplement traditional face-to-face services. You can also look for ways to enhance a physical products' value by offering clients access to online materials while they wait for a physical product to ship. Some audience research can help you get an idea of what your consumers need the most right now; adapting your model might not have been something you ever considered, but switching up your niche a bit can make all the difference.