Running a small business comes with its fair share of stressors, but few plan for a global pandemic to temporarily shut their doors.
It’s a time of hardship and uncertainty for many small business owners right now, whether you’re running a restaurant or a consulting firm. Most nonessential businesses have been ordered to shutter their doors for the time being — many might not recover from the economic loss.
It’s enough to make a small business owner want to take part in illegal activities; after all, small businesses already have the highest levels of fraud at 28%, but it’s important that small businesses steer away from crime during a crisis like this. Luckily, there are a few ways that small businesses can better use their time.
If your business has been forced to close its doors as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, here are some of the best ways to improve your business and keep it afloat.
Apply for government loans
Unfortunately, the small business loan bailout wasn’t as smooth as investors initially anticipated. While the government has devoted more than $350 billion in its bailout, dubbed the Paycheck Protection loan, the application process is difficult. Worse yet, getting in touch with any banks or officials for help is nearly impossible as businesses scramble to get to the top of the waitlist.
Some businesses aren’t surprised that it was a little chaotic.
“I’m just inclined to feel like a week wasn’t enough to organize, you know, a $350 billion small loan program,” notes Alexandra Mason, a marketing consultant owner in Washington, D.C.
Some analysts claim that nearly 15,000 small businesses will likely close as a result of financial losses because of the coronavirus. If you can apply for other loans to keep yourselves afloat, now is the time to do so.
Improve your marketing and branding
The lifeblood of a small business is its devoted customers. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, contacting your loyal customers and trying to get new ones are two essential tasks at this time.
How to reach out to current customers
Your current customers will want to see your business continue to thrive after the pandemic comes to a close. If your business is at-risk for closing, it’s important to be candid with your clients. Ask that they buy gift cards for future use or try to come up with a delivery service to better serve your customers. Once you have a plan in place, send out an email blast and post the news on your social media channels. Challenges, fundraising opportunities, and contests are all great ways to keep your customers engaged without coming into contact with them. Doing it online will also stop vulnerable populations from leaving the house. Even though there are fewer people on the road, there are still more than 3 million traffic injuries each year in the United States. Encourage your customers to stay at home and engage with them online. If you can partner with other small businesses in your community, all the better.
Gain new customers
Gaining new customers is certainly easier said than done. But if you’re transitioning to online products, you might be able to grow your business in more ways through marketing than you initially thought.
This time of duress is inherently challenging, but it’s important to innovate when you can. If you have slacked off when it comes to digital marketing, now might be the perfect time to start a keyword-influenced blog on your website. Writing great content is free when you do it in-house and it can help boost your rankings on Google. Better yet, it allows you to share great information across your social media channels as a sort of free marketing. You can also invest in PPC advertising, but this might be a cost that you cannot afford right now. Try to streamline your website and come up with free ways to reach out to new customers. Your finances will thank you.
Make some improvements to your business property
Most loans are to help businesses replace their roofs or invest in other improvement projects. If you’re able to get a loan from a local bank or another private lender, making necessary improvements to your property is a great way to spend your downtime.
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of renovating their space. But if you have the means, this downtime is the perfect opportunity to make property improvements that would otherwise disrupt the flow of your business.
This is a challenging time for many, but there is always a silver lining. Try these tips when you’re looking to make the most of your temporary closing.