Keeping a small business running in tough economic times is indeed, challenging. And, the unprecedented COVID-19 has swept in challenges in almost every area of life. We’ve adjusted to a new normal – new routines, WFH work, and online classes for students, online shopping and so on. And, we have devised ways to stay fit at home too, as stepping out is not the normal anymore.
If you’re a small business owner, you must have experienced the difficult ties that this pandemic has rolled in. Small businesses are being challenged to put their creativity to the test – how can you continue to generate sales, remain relevant in your community, and engage with your customers, all while working remotely?
Unfortunately, there is no set playbook to follow now. Every small business is different, and each carries its own risks and rewards. But still, there are some general strategies that entrepreneurs or small business owners can follow to help them manage the situation and at the same time, strengthen the business. Here are some tips:
• Fine-tune your business culture: Largely, any company from the beginning, has set the culture that cannot be easily changed easily. But, in this time of rapid transition, culture change is happening much more quickly, and in many different ways than before. Technology is playing a large role here, as the new normal is ‘digital’. Technology should be used to eliminate the ‘social distancing’ required by this pandemic. So, old traditions are getting revamped and today the new normal is – virtual meetings, lunches, meetings, etc. Small businesses can learn from global companies who have been operating remotely and creating and maintaining virtual connection with their employees.
• Keep communication clear and open: Uncertainty had crept in and things are changing rapidly. People are unsure too. The best thing your small business can do is to be alert and responsive. It important that whether you’re dealing with negative or positive responses, the lines of communication must be kept open.
Plus, as far as brand communication goes, take time to review upcoming posts on social media, ad campaigns, and marketing initiatives – to ensure that nothing is in poor taste given the current circumstances. Spend time to think about your target demographic and how their daily activities are being affected right now. The messaging you were using before, may not be as appropriate in the weeks ahead.
• Build a connect with people: Keeping to the current set of circumstances, try building a connect with your audience online, and there won’t be any danger of breaking any social distancing rules either. Now is a really appropriate time to communicate virtually with customers and show them you care. During this time, community management is essential, especially when many people are feeling unsure, secluded and looking forward to some connection.
• Be authentic: Today, we hear a lot about how critical it is to be authentic and reliable. When it comes to branding, it’s never been more important. It must be remembered that how your business responds, acts, and reacts now and in the near future can have a major influence on your brand reputation. You can make a difference by talking to your community in a genuine and considerate manner.
• Lead with empathy: There is talk of the pandemic entering the next phase, but the reality is that the crisis is far from over. This means that your employees are inevitably going to feel COVID-19 fatigue, which could be manifested as anxiety, frustration, fear, depression or any other emotions at work. In these moments, business leadership should lead with empathy. Listen to your employees and see how you can help.
Most importantly, it is a case of consciously creating a new culture now – because there is no looking back. This new reality is the context that we must all adapt to, without batting an eyelid!