Millions of small businesses in the United States are facing the threat of permanent closure due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Even with emergency funding from the federal government, not all companies will make it. In many cases, survival will depend on whether small business owners can exploit their current downtime to rethink their sales and marketing strategy and to reconfigure their internal operations. In fact, real opportunities may exist for small businesses to transform the COVID-19 crisis into an avenue for new growth. How can companies best achieve this goal?
First, find creative new ways to deliver your product or service. For example, many companies delivering in-person, on-site services might consider switching to enhanced on-line delivery platforms. Fitness, yoga and exercise studios have closed but their instructors are now teaching students on-line. The same is true of art and music instruction. Companies that rely on selling their products in-store can boost their on-line sales with more elaborate video products displays and expanded delivery options. Because of COVID-19, on-line product and service delivery may become the wave of the future for the many companies, reducing their costs and boosting their profits.
Second, tackle important tasks you’ve been postponing. Businesses caught up in their day-to-day operations often place other important issues affecting their productivity and profits on the back burner. Now is the time to revisit those. Do you need to re-arrange your showroom or restaurant seating arrangement to improve accessibility? Is it time to steam clean your carpets or re-paint your walls? Now may also be the time to create a website or upgrade an existing one. Inventory management is another possible area of improvement. In addition, areas of potential liability, including sexual harassment prevention training and workplace safety training may require the development of new protocols, especially in light of changing legal requirements.
Third, develop a new business skill. Every small business owner has strengths and weaknesses in his or her skill set. Moreover, not every activity can be offloaded to an employee or consultant. Business owners should consider using their down time to develop their own expertise in an area where their business needs improvement. Maybe it’s refining the company’s marketing and advertising strategy. Even those that feel they have some command of an area may be missing out on important changes that have occurred since they started their small business. Social media have become increasingly important for finding and cultivating consumers. Even small companies should know how to exploit Facebook, Linked In and Twitter to publicize their company, to identify new competitors, to assess changing consumer preferences, and to evaluate consumer satisfaction.
Fourth, share your expertise with other business owners. If you haven’t joined a business association, this may be a good time to do so. Contact others in your area or industry to share your struggles and success during this trying time. Even competitors may be able to pull together and offer advice that is of value to all. You may be able to share resources and referrals. Enhance your company’s reputation by becoming more visible and committed to the health and and well-being of all small businesses. Many business owners will be tempted to hunker down and withdraw from the world. Be the one that remains positive and optimistic and that pulls people out of isolation to forge common bonds.
Coggno has special expertise developing online corporate training courses and educational modules for small business owners. We offer a comprehensive library of more than 1,000 comprehensive courses on every business topic imaginable. These courses are delivered by recognized industry experts on our custom user-friendly Learning Platform. Courses vary in length from 15 minutes to two hours. Purchased as a package by your company or in partnership with other business owners will further reduce the costs.
Business owners should consider delivering Coggno online training courses not just for themselves but also for their employees, especially those sidelines by COVID-19. Employees can be incentivized to earn certificates in courses such as Lean Process and Six Sygma that are intended to enhance the flow of your company’s business operations. Keeping employees engaged and focused on their professional development can boost their morale and keep their spirits from sagging during these difficult times.
Remember: All companies face threats to their business operations even during “normal” times. An unexpected natural disaster, the development of new technology, or the entrance of competitors can force companies to adapt or die. COVID-19 is an extreme case of a challenge that may require companies to rethink the foundations of their mission and the way they do business.
Coggno is ideally suited to assist small business owners under siege to obtain the enhance training and expertise they need to survive – and eventually thrive – in the evolving COVID-19 landscape.