Alternative Businesses Skills to Succeed in a Post-COVID Economy
While the pandemic may be waning and the economy is starting to recover, we’re still a long way from normal. The small businesses that survived Covid-19 have had to learn how to adapt to a new business landscape that requires strategic skills and tactics to thrive.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other government-funded relief programs have ended, but many small businesses still need continued affordable financing. Along with alternative business financing, there are many skills small businesses can utilize to help them succeed long after the pandemic.
Essential Skills Small Businesses Should Adopt
While there isn’t an all-encompassing answer, there are steps small businesses can take to help their businesses succeed.
Business operations are changing and evolving. Focusing on digital, investing in technology, exploring alternative small business financing, and embracing new business practices are just some skills business leaders can adopt to achieve success post-pandemic.
Utilize Online Services
During the pandemic, many small businesses needed to rethink their business model. It’s not enough to depend on foot traffic to control your business’ cash flow anymore. Offering online services to benefit your business and cater to consumers is a great way to keep up with evolving demands.
Not to mention, many consumers are spending more time online now than ever before. It could greatly benefit your small business to pivot to the e-commerce market.
Take advantage of available technology solutions like live-streaming and video conferencing platforms to serve your customers. This works great for small businesses that offer classes or counseling, like fitness studios or therapy that can easily be done online or offered in a hybrid format to cater to all your client’s preferences.
Telehealth services are also widely available for medical professionals to virtually offer consultations and non-emergency medical care to their patients.
Professional businesses such as mortgage companies, accounting services, and law firms can also leverage email, phone, and video conferencing to provide their clients with quality service in a timely fashion.
This skill can also be utilized by retail and food businesses by setting up an online storefront or delivery/pick-up systems to continue to offer their customers quality service.
Invest in Digital Technology
Before the pandemic, many companies used digital tools as a supporting feature of their business, but it’s become clear that the need for increased proficiency in tech is necessary to stay relevant.
Some technology that every small business should consider investing in is customer relationship management systems (CRM). This cloud-based tool allows businesses to manage and track their business relationships with existing customers and potential leads. CRMs can help to improve lead conversion and grow your company.
A reliable payment processing system can also be a valuable asset to your business. Small businesses should provide accessible and diverse payment options such as digital wallets and credit card terminals. Prioritizing convenience for your customers will save them both time and frustration.
Integrating technology into your business can be crucial for remote work as well. Employees will need to know how to troubleshoot when they don’t have immediate access to IT at home. Ensuring employees master digital tools like productivity apps, video conferencing software, and project management systems will help to foster teamwork, connection, and collaboration.
Don’t overlook boosting your online presence by optimizing your business’ website and social media platforms. Creating a visually appealing and easy-to-navigate website can do wonders for your business’ site traffic and search engine optimization, SEO.
Staying active on social media is also a great way to digitally engage with your business’ customers. You can showcase new offerings, post current business hours, and answer customer service inquiries faster.
Connect with your community
As a small business, building and maintaining a strong community is one of the best skills to move prospective customers along the buyer’s journey and keep current customers engaged.
Use your business’ customer emails to your advantage and build an opt-in email list. You can then create a monthly newsletter, announce new promotions, and provide valuable content to stay top of mind. Nurturing this relationship can help to build trust with clients.
Social media channels are a great place to share your business’ services and promotions with your followers. Regular posting can keep your business’ customers more engaged with your brand, even when they aren’t physically at your business.
Becoming an active member of your community can help your business seem more approachable. Consider creating community programs or offering community discounts. When you can bring people together through your business, your business can create long-lasting relationships with loyal customers.
Another way to engage your community is to find out what your customers want and then provide it to them. Do they want new promotions, online ordering, mobile or digital options, etc.? This shows that your business values and respects their opinions as customers.
Master contactless payment
Following the pandemic, contactless payment features can be a great option for customers still concerned about the spread of the virus. Contactless pay can also be faster and more convenient. This means shorter checkout lines without wasting time inputting PINs or signing receipts.
There are several types of contactless payment methods to consider:
- Tap and go allows consumers to pay by tapping or waiving their credit/debit card.
- Mobile wallets are applications that can be accessed through a smartphone or wearable device.
Explore Financial Assistance
As mentioned earlier, the PPP and other SBA-backed loan programs have ended. It’s critical for small businesses to know how to acquire, budget, and use capital to sustain cash flow during this time.
Fortunately, many alternative small business financing options still exist to help get them the funding needed to grow and adapt their business to the changing post-pandemic economy.
Alternative Business Financing Options
The first step is understanding why you need financing. Do you need to rebuild your businesses, expand, maintain cash flow, or pay employees? Working with an alternative funder that can connect your business with multiple financing options to determine what will work best for your company’s needs can be a great first step.
Small businesses that survived the pandemic should also consider using funds to hire financial planners, accountants, or bookkeepers that can help them track their cash flow and business financing needs.
Line of Credit
A small business line of credit is a flexible alternative financing tool that allows you to draw on funds up to an approved credit amount while making regular payments to pay off what you’ve drawn. Unlike traditional loans, a line of credit allows continuous and repeated access to these funds.
This type of credit is a great option for small businesses that need fast funding to overcome gaps in cash flow and build up a cushion of capital to grow their company.
Merchant Cash Advance
A merchant cash advance is a short-term alternative business financing option that gives businesses access to funds in exchange for a percentage of their future credit/debit card receivables. This allows the payment timeline to be tailored to the flow of business sales.
Merchant cash advances are great because they can allow your business more flexibility in how it spends its working capital, making them a good choice for pretty much any business expense: seasonal costs, business expansion, equipment repairs, and cash flow gaps.
Adapt to pandemic-related business changes
The pandemic has created a shift in how work gets done, and small businesses are still trying to adapt to evolving work relationships.
As remote and hybrid work continues to expand, companies will need to redefine expectations. These new models will require businesses to empower their employees to complete work efficiently at home, communicate more effectively, and even be open to more flexible working hours.
While remote work has plenty of benefits, it’s not for everyone. Some teams and businesses work better in collaborative spaces. Businesses will need to work strategically to find a balance.
Creating opportunities for employees to collaborate and thrive in and out of the office may look like leaning into an open office space that values collaboration when needed, defining clear schedules for when employees will need to be in the office, if they need to come in at all, organizing virtual happy hours and other events, and giving employees a choice between virtual or in-person attendance.
Summary & Conclusion
Successful businesses have always found ways to adapt to new challenges. While Covid has caused a worldwide economic shock, businesses are finding creative ways to thrive.
Don’t wait until your business needs these skills to start acquiring them, take action now. The truth is, small businesses may still have a long way to go as they navigate the new working landscape created by the pandemic, but by utilizing alternative small businesses skills such as investing in tech, connecting with your community, taking advantage of online services, empowering employees, exploring alternative business financing, and embracing new business practices will go a long way in helping small businesses succeed in a post-Covid economy.