SURVIVING COVID THROUGH CREATIVITY

A SMALL BUSINESS ACTION PLAN

Small businesses across America have struggled through extremely challenging financial hardship these past twelve months.  Unfortunately, many have gone out of business — permanent casualties of the virus shutdowns. As covid-19 numbers continue to decline and states start to reopen, there is fresh optimism that a much-needed recovery is right around the corner. Throughout the coming months, small business must maintain their vigilance in light of a rapidly changing business climate.  You can bolster your company’s chance of surviving and thriving by embracing an all-hands-on-deck approach to creative solutions in every aspect of your business.

Creative Financial Sourcing

Every penny counts for small businesses, especially during times of crisis.  Have you exhausted all avenues of financial relief available through government assistance?  Be sure to explore SBA.gov for a variety of loans, grants, and debt relief programs available through the CARES Act.  If you took advantage of a PPP loan last year, you may qualify for a second-draw PPP loan. Hurry, applications for new and second-draw PPP loans are open until March 31, 2021, or until funds are exhausted.  The CRRSAA of December 20 includes favorable, new tax provisions for affected businesses. Make sure you and your accountant take advantage of these options at tax time.

Another worthwhile avenue for financial relief is through crowdfunding. With support from its partners, GoFundMe offers financial assistance to qualifying businesses through its Small Business Relief Fund.

Have you contacted your local bank or credit union? Some of the best loans are often available through bankers who you have a personal relationship with in your community.

Stay abreast of local grants and programs offered in your area. Local Chambers and other community organizations often share information on independent, local grants and financial services available right in your city and surrounding community. Keep current on your memberships and e-newsletter subscriptions for easy access to rapidly changing opportunities.

Evolving Business Model

Now is the time to exercise continued flexibility and innovation as your business reacts to ongoing changes brought on by the coronavirus. Early in the crisis, many brick and mortar store fronts introduced or expanded their digital footprints in order to survive the shutdowns.  In-person retail business will now grow as lockdowns are eased, but don’t expect a swift return to pre-covid business as usual. Business openings have been very gradual in most states and consumers remain skittish about returning to unrestricted person-to-person contact in public settings. If you have not already allocated energy and resources to the development of a long-term online business presence and an e-commerce platform, be sure to undergo a thorough evaluation of your digital business offerings now.

Are there any new, creative ways to offer your products and services through a digital forum?  Online instructional videos and livestreaming product shows are some ideas. As the coronavirus remains unpredictable, remain prepared for the possibility of another covid-19 surge and the return to more restricted ways of business.

Instead of in-person sales meetings with clients and prospects, make sure you are well-suited for tele-sales meetings through Zoom or another online meeting platform. Because clients love the convenience of digital meetings, don’t anticipate a 100% return to face-to-face selling as restrictions ease.

For businesses with storefronts, continue to offer convenient pickup and delivery options. Your competition certainly will! If you own a restaurant, have you compared using delivery services to in-house delivery? By utilizing your own employees for delivery, you maintain a better control on quality service and customer costs, while extending employment options for loyal employees.

Advertising and Communication Best Practices

As your business adjusts to the changing climate, it is important to maintain up-to-date communication with your customers. Have your hours changed? Are your delivery and pickup options adjusting? Have relaxed covid restrictions affected your retail store? Make sure you don’t lose any customers due to outdated information on your website, social media, or print advertising. Money Mailer’s Complete Package can provide a vital lifeline to both your print advertising and digital platforms, by offering a direct mail campaign that is conveniently paired with mobile app coupons. Included in every campaign is your own business profile webpage with live links to your social media sites.

With a market in flux, it is vital to regularly reevaluate your advertising options and consider alternative formats. A record number of people are working from home. These consumers are eager for breaks from their computer screens and the monotony of the day. They look forward to checking the mail every day and are paying attention to print advertising now more than ever. Direct mail products like postcards and shared mail pieces offer a large physical space to share covid-19 details which affect your business. The print format allows for much more room to share your evolving story than a quickly forgotten post or tweet.

Print is also the ideal way to let the world know your company is alive and well and open for business. If consumers don’t search for you online, they can’t find you and may be misinformed. Direct mail, on the other hand, specifically targets a large portion of your client base, communicating important company information without any required search action on behalf of the consumer.

Postcards are an excellent format for catching the consumer’s attention and putting all eyes on your business. If you’re working with a restricted budget, try shared mail for a cost-effective means of targeting your ideal customer.

With diligence and a bit of creative fortitude, your business can survive the pandemic and come out thriving on the other side.