Well if you are like me then you thought that all this would be over by the end of Summer, but clearly despite great news about potential vaccines and the belief that by next summer 2021 we as a nation will have a handle on this; that still leaves more than six months for your small business to survive.
There is no denying it has been an awful year for businesses of all shapes and sizes but if you have survived this long then there is hope. Now for many small businesses it is a case of avoiding the move to make your business COVID smart in the hope that it will all go away but it has not, and it won’t.
#1 E-commerce stop ignoring it - Now if you’re a business with products to sell that don’t require real world interaction think about adapting your business model to an e-commerce platform, either by using something similar to Shopify, a shoppable landing page or a selling site such as Etsy. If you don’t currently have a website, start by setting up a quick free site (Wix offer templates that are easy to use or WordPress has free options) building a shoppable landing page where your customers can buy your products. You can also use it to sell gift cards that can be bought now and used later, when you can open the doors of your business to the public once more. Remember that if you chose to use a separate selling site, like Etsy or eBay, you will need to factor in their fees to your pricing plus postage and packaging. If you already have a website that sells, then now is the time to tidy it up, organise an SEO review, make sure all the pages are working as they should be and potentially review the pricing or product lines you have to optimise ROI in every area of your business.
#2 – Optimise social media channels - The reality is if you are not on social media you are not seen and If you haven’t already then now is the time to set up and optimise your social media channels, consider which work best for your audience. Not only is organic social free but it is often more effective to market your small business as people feel they are not being sold to as blatantly. Using these channels for paid advertising is great for getting fast results but if you are not sure what you’re doing can end up costing more than you expect and returning very little in the way of sales. Find an expert who can help you if you are not sure, most 15 – 19-year olds can provide free advice on guidance on which platforms will work best for your products and services.
Being able to use the right platforms to connect not only with your existing customer base but also local demographics and potential new clients is often a great way to market your small business and eventually sales too. More now than ever people want to look at the human side of your business. I get that it is scary and uncomfortable, trust me I am the voice of experience in this matter. It has taken me years to get over myself in how I look and sound. However, you can be creative if it is not your thing. There are some ways such as a behind-the-scenes video of how you make your products, an interview which discusses an area of your business you get asked about frequently or some beautiful lifestyle images of your products all of these demonstrate your business without direct selling.
#3 – Find a support network that works for you, a virtual support bubble of likeminded people can help in so many ways. They provide context and meaning, and a shared understanding of the challenges we are all facing during these difficult times. I was invited as a guest to a network of creative artists in Havering (borough next door). I went because we support two of the artists, but I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a real sense of comradery and support without any competitiveness it restored my faith in a cooperative business community. Arguably very necessary in these difficult times.
#4Enterprise Support – there is a plethora of support available via numerous organisations obviously including the BEC, but there is lots of advice and guidance on all of the organisation’s I can think of, as well as a wide range of training opportunities to upskill. Our ‘make it click ‘programme is an online platform via google which enables business owners to register and take any course at their own pace and in a time when it suits them.
Despite all this year has brought I want to believe that if small business can weather the storm then there are opportunities to rebuild. If you are a small business and you need support, then reach out to us!