Before the coronavirus pandemic, businesses with 500 or fewer employees, employed more than half the Arizona workforce. Those same businesses were responsible for kicking $191 billion into the annual state economy.
But most small businesses were unprepared for the challenges the virus would create. A poll conducted by the US Chamber-MetLife suggested 74% of US-based small business owners say they will need more government aid to keep going through the pandemic.
In light of the difficulties facing small businesses across the US, here are some tips for you to prepare your small business for the challenges ahead in 2021.
Since the pandemic largely moved social interaction and business activity online in 2020, the year also witnessed a sharp rise in cyber-crime. Data breaches from cyber-attacks of suspected Russian origin resulted in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) declaring the incident “poses a great risk” to networks in both the public and private sectors.
Whilst small businesses are unlikely the target of these international attacks, the lesson remains the same: if the American government can be hacked, so can you.
To keep your business safe, you need to contact a reliable IT support company that can provide you with assistance in setting up a cybersecurity package that suits your business. This should involve protection from attacks like spear-phishing, ransomware, and DDoS (distributed denial of service).
Support Your Community
The last year has been a challenging one for many communities around the US. As social activity has moved increasingly online, levels of loneliness have dramatically increased. As the owner of a small business, you have the opportunity of becoming a community leader by building connections with potential consumers in your area.
Companies who engage with their community are better positioned to build customer loyalty. This is often done by encouraging staff volunteer activities and building links with local schools and charities.
If you demonstrate a willingness to stand by your community, it is much more likely the community will be invested in seeing your business thrive. Not only this, but a study by Deloitte suggests that volunteering opportunities for staff can boost their work enthusiasm and productivity.
Establish an Online Presence
The trend of businesses moving some or all of their services online began well before coronavirus, but there is little doubt the pandemic has accelerated the change. Estimates suggest that e-commerce sales increased 30-45% last year above the recorded sales in 2019.
This means if your small business is still operating on a walk-in store set up, you should begin to think about creating a website or you could be missing out on potential sales.
With how well-connected the world has become, an online shop has the potential of reaching a much larger number of customers than a brick-and-mortar store. The broader your consumer base, the easier it will be to keep up sales during the pandemic.
Redesign Your Business
The new year presents the opportunity for you to take elements of your business back to the drawing board. A redesign can boost customer attention to your store or website by ensuring you keep a modern, concise, and easily navigable layout.
Businesses that demonstrate a willingness to maintain their image imply that they are also interested in maintaining the high quality of their products or services.
Think about the purpose of your redesign. In September, Walmart announced it was undergoing a redesign of all its stores so that its layout was more in keeping with the Walmart app. This was part of a push to get more customers to download the app.
If your business operates online and in a walk-in store, consider trying to make their designs more similar. This way, consumers will find navigating each of them to be a more familiar experience.
In the wake of how coronavirus has affected the US socially and economically, many small businesses are struggling to survive. Though government aid is being made available to those struggling the most, it is essential to your business’s survival that you move with the times to remain relevant and accessible to consumers.
Establishing an online presence is crucial to maximizing your earnings, as this is where the majority of market growth is being generated.
Redesigning your store and website can build familiarity with consumers, and establishing a community presence will enhance your chances of improving their loyalty to your business.
However, moving online comes with added risks, which is why it is important to protect your business from cyber-attacks that may threaten it.