There's little doubt that small businesses have been some of the hardest hit through this COVID-19 pandemic. We might not know what it is going to look like, but there IS a "normal" in the future. Many businesses are barely staying afloat, forget thriving, but there are some things businesses can do now to try and be ahead of the curve.
No matter what business you are in, communication is more important now than ever. Not only is it important for your existing customers, but especially for your new customers. New customers are always leery about giving their business to a total stranger (or close to it), so when you are trying to get new customers communicating and sharing are the best ways to get people familiar with you.
We're not talking sales pitches here - it can be as simple as a check-in to see how they're doing. You don't have to pitch a sale everytime you talk to someone. Offer real value to your customers' lives. Whether that's advice or tips, sharing a resource that you found helpful or just checking in to say hello - you can't go wrong by giving without the expection of receiving something back.
Don't forget your niche - take time to examine what your clients needs and wants are, where you are at currently, and where that pivot point might logically be. Some companies are completely shifting their focus to brand new avenues.
Maybe jumping into a brand new area is what you should be doing, and maybe it's not - while there are success stories out there, it's certainly not for everyone. It could even be disastrous for some! Take the time, do the research and analysis and make the best decision for your company.
Community is something many business owners forget about when they get overwhelmed. Community isn't just your family and friends, either. It is like-minded people who an empathize with your situation and offer words of advice, experience and wisdom.
Take the time and connect with people who are in similar situations as you. Social networking sites like LinkedIn are great for professionals and business owners. Facebook also has some great hyper-local business owner and woman-business-owner groups to connect with area business owners.
Right now a LOT of people are stressed about money. Knowing how and where to get loans, grants, and other means of financial support is important. Over the last couple of months, there have been various programs available in NH to help small businesses stay afloat in this unprecedented time.
Do plenty of research and keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. The New Hampshire Small Business Development Center (NHSBDC) offers advising and education to NH businesses at no cost. They can help businesses to "incorporate relief measures, review options, and discuss concerns related to cash flow, staffing, marketing, accounting, supply chain interruptions, and more".
Many business owners focus on their competition instead of how they are adding value to their customers' lives. If you are focusing solely on what the competition is doing, you've already lost.
With the blatant lack of customer service out there today, it is this specific focus that will differentiate small business from big business and drive new and returning customers.
The world is a scary uncertain place right now. Not only are we going through a global pandemic, but social and economical changes are happening across our nation which adds another level to the situation. Eventually, though, things will improve. Some things will go back to "normal" and some things will be permanently changed. You will adapt to those things that have permanently changed because you will need to.
Right now, we all need to take time for ourselves; we all need to practice self-care and gratitude and know that we are resilient and we will overcome this (whatever "this" might be). Stay positive and look towards the future without taking an eye off of the now.