Though COVID-19 is surely going to be part of daily life for years to come, the world is at least adapting to it: most people are wearing masks, distancing themselves, and implementing other worthwhile safety measures. Yes, there are those who refuse to be reasonable (and we still haven’t figured out the optimal way to combat the outbreak), but we’ve still come a long way.
Over half a year since everything changed, then, we can say that we’re living in a post-COVID world. The shock has worn off, and we’ve given up on the idea that this will simply blow over. Instead, we’re steeling ourselves to live differently for years to come. But how are you supposed to grow a small business in these conditions?
Well, it’s essential to remember that society hasn’t stopped: it’s just changed. People are still working, saving, investing, and finding ways to enjoy their lives. And you can still build your business in the coming years if you take the right approach. Here are five tips to help you:
Invest in recruitment
When much of the world went into lockdown, countless professionals were fired or furloughed by businesses that couldn’t remain in operation — and even months down the line, employment stats haven’t returned to normal. This means that there are many competent and experienced workers hunting for opportunities. For anyone trying to grow their business, this is a major boon.
Yes, it’s likely to be expensive to hire some professionals with a lot of experience, but it’s a worthwhile investment. You can always take the route of getting some business funding: it might make sense to get your infrastructure sorted, bring in new business, then settle your debts.
Automate what you can
While recruitment will help you deal with a lot of the added workload that comes with business expansion, you also need to operate efficiently, and that means automating whatever you can. List all the repetitive tasks you spend time on: all the data entry, all the copying and pasting, and everything in the realm of analytics. Which parts can be automated?
Probably quite a few of them. The digital world is full of convenient SaaS tools for everything from email marketing to customer relationship management, and they tend to be more affordable than you might think. Coupled with all-purpose automation tools like IFTTT, they can save you a lot of time that you can put towards more interesting tasks.
Focus on convenience
Business marketing is a big deal, but you need to promote the right things. Marketing luxury and exclusivity isn’t a good idea at this time. Instead, you should focus on convenience in this tricky situation. For example, internet-based mortgage broker Breezeful updated its “About” page to talk about how its service is “accessible for everyone”, then quoted a reviewer as saying “[…] in this new day of social distancing, who wants to go to a bank?”.
In short, you must show that you understand how people’s needs have changed in the pandemic era. This may require radically changing how you present your business, but if you want to succeed then you may need to do it. And on that note…
Stay ready to pivot
Even as you try to grow your business, you need to stay on your toes and understand that your business model could fall through at any time. Industries of all kinds have suffered extensive damage this year, and there’s zero guarantee that further lockdowns won’t be needed — lockdowns that could cause yet more rounds of layoffs and business closures.
To whatever extent possible, have some backup plans in the back of your mind. If your main customer base dries up, what’s the alternative? If your biggest product or service loses its appeal, what else can you bring to the table? The more readily you can adapt to changing demands, the more easily you can weather the bumps in the road.
Show your personality
Lastly, you should give some thought to the importance of brand identity. In times of strife and turmoil, it wavers significantly depending on the products or services in question. Companies that sell staples don’t really need to do anything aside from keep them in stock, realistically — but other companies need to do far more than ever before to prove that they deserve support.
If you sell clothing, for instance, you’re up against thousands of other clothing merchants (locally and internationally), so you need to convince people to buy from you. If you show the personality behind your business — why you founded it, what you hope to achieve — and talk about the things you value beyond money (sustainability, perhaps, or charity), then you’ll get people on your side.