Saying these past couple of weeks have been slightly unnerving would be the understatement of the year. From government mandated closures to possible mandatory quarantines, businesses across America are struggling to survive during a time when everything is seemingly uncertain.
With major changes in headlines happening every day, now is the time to embrace flexibility. Many businesses that have relied on the same set of strategies for years will face a tough challenge in the coming months. But with a splash of courage and a dash of creativity, it can be done!
In this post, we’re going to outline key strategies businesses can adopt to cope and adapt to a rapidly changing market. We’ll also share ways in which you can encourage your customers to support you. Because when the going gets tough, the tough get going. So chin up buttercup and let’s get to work.
Strategies to Keep Businesses Going
Master Remote Work.
Unless you’re in the food service or medical industry, you and your team have likely moved to telecommuting. While it’s a smart move socially speaking, it can be tricky to get back to business as usual when everyone is spread far and wide. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways businesses can make telecommuting work for them.
Communication is key.
If there was ever a time to dust off this tired cliché, it’s now. Now more than ever, business leaders need to be in consistent communication with employees; not only to outline expectations, but to lead by example. For example, many fear that working from home will infringe on their work/life balance. But if company leaders set an example by going offline at 5 and not answering emails on the weekend, it’s more than likely employees will follow suit.
Make sure you’re only using secure connections.
When everyone is working from home, it’s important to keep your business’s data and documents secure from potential hackers. Encourage employees to only use company-mandated devices if possible. Or, show employees how to install and use virtual private networks (VPNs) on their personal devices. Stay informed on phishing campaigns and avoid clicking links from mysterious emails.
Switch to eCommerce.
If you haven’t got an online storefront up yet, now’s the time to get one. As more and more people are being forced to stay home, that means there’s going to be an even bigger demand for companies that offer online orders.
Not sure how to set up an online store? Most website hosting platforms like SquareSpace, Wix, Shopify, and more offer easy-to-set-up online storefronts. By building up your online presence and moving your stock online, you’ll not only be able to better serve your customers, but you’ll have a backup in case you have to shut your doors for a while.
Apply for Support.
Fortunately, many private and government backed organizations are launching initiatives to assist small businesses. For example, Facebook has recently pledged 100 million in grants to help support small businesses with things like paying for rent, and maintaining their workforce.
On the federal side, the current administration is working on a $1 trillion package which will include economic relief for adults and families who are on leave from work or now unemployed, payments to small businesses, loan guarantees for industries like airlines and hotels, and more.
Additionally, most states are creating similar programs targeted to small businesses, so don’t forget to research what’s available in your own area.
It’s easy to feel isolated, alone, and unmotivated when you’re suddenly uprooted from your office and your team. Keep spirits high by encouraging internal communication. Have a Slack channel or use Microsoft Teams for communication? Encourage people to post pictures of their pets, celebrate wins, and work through problems together on these platforms. Not only will it give morale a boost, it will help spark more collaborative and creative thinking.
Ways to Encourage Customers to Keep Supporting Local Businesses
While successfully pivoting to digital-forward strategies can help your business remain agile, it’s also crucial to keep in communication with consumers. Many are looking for ways to support local businesses through this tough time, and are relying on businesses to point them in the right direction. Here are just a few ways your customers can support you.
Stay Active on Social.
If your business hasn’t already made a statement on social media, now’s the time – especially if you’ve had to shut your doors or halt operations. Reassure customers that they can still purchase their favorite products online, and make sure the link to your website is visible and accessible on all of your social media profiles.
Now’s also a great time to prioritize posting great content and sparking dialogues with your followers. The more you can engage with people, the more likely they will be to remember to shop with you.
If you’re running a special online discount like free shipping, post about it on your profiles!
You can also create a business-specific hashtag and encourage people to share pictures of themselves or their recent purchases with that hashtag.
Offer Curbside Pickup and/or Delivery.
Switching to a delivery-only approach doesn’t just have to be for restaurants! Whether you’re a bakery, local boutique, or general goods store, going to delivery mode can be a great way to keep business going.
If you’re in the food industry, offer to drive people’s orders to their house, or partner with services like UberEats. Depending on your business, you can also offer to meet people halfway at pre-arranged pick-up spots. Don’t forget to advertise this on social media, too!
Set up a Donation Box or Promote Gift Cards.
Thankfully, we’ve seen so many people from all walks of life pledging money to help support their favorite local businesses. Consider opening up a digital donation box for your business so customers can directly support you. Or, you may be able to offer a pay-what-you-want model for a specific product or package, where customers can decide how much they want to donate in exchange for a predetermined product.
Did we miss anything?
As we weather this unprecedented storm together, we’d love to hear your advice. stories, or tips for local businesses. Follow us on Instagram @localfluence and share how you’re staying afloat or supporting the businesses in your area.
Good luck, stay safe, and don’t forget to wash those hands!