While the country continues to open up after the COVID-19 lockdown, things are not quite back to normal yet. ‘Business as usual’ won’t happen anytime soon and small business survival will require a lot of innovative thinking.
There are two key considerations for small business. First, small shops and businesses must follow the official government guidelines regarding the different social distancing rules and other safety measures in place before they can open their doors to customers. Second, early research indicates that people are not necessarily going to shop the same way as they used to.
To help your small business survive in this ‘new normal’, here are a few ways you could reinvent your business.
1. Provide customers with the option to shop online
Online shopping skyrocketed during the pandemic. As shops closed their doors, most people continued to use online alternatives to fill those shopping needs. For many small businesses, this was problematic because many of them have been slow to put their business online.
If your small business hasn’t yet created a strong online presence, now is the time to do it. From having a strong social media presence to the ability to shop online, going digital could help your business answer to the changing appetites in shopping behaviour.
There are also plenty of options available in terms of going online. Small businesses might not be able to provide online shopping in terms of traditional delivery service. But embracing ‘click and collect’ services could be useful and make it easier to ensure customers don’t have to spend a lot of time queuing at the store. Your clients could choose the products they want on your website and you’d get them ready for picking up the next day, for example. This would limit the pressure on your brick and mortar store while allowing customers to also go digital if they want to.
2. Introduce creative queuing solutions
Queuing will be one of the first hurdles brick and mortar stores will need to overcome in terms of small business survival. Because of social distancing rules, customers can’t stay in close contact with each other and various other rules can make the whole paying experience slower – this means queues will form and the wait times can become an issue.
Small businesses must look for ways to turn the queuing process slightly less tedious and boring. The solution could be to introduce:
- QR codes customers can scan while waiting, resulting in offers and savings.
- Entertainment in forms of games, puzzles or even things to watch to keep customers busy while queuing.
- Technology to allow customers to queue wherever they want by avoiding traditional lines and using technology to alert the customer to when it’s their turn to pay.
3. Collaborate with other small businesses
Now is the time to focus on the community and start supporting other small businesses in your area. Small shops and traders should look at innovative ways to collaborate.
There are numerous ways to go about collaboration. You could focus on putting your resources together in terms of marketing and promoting, for example. If building your web store seems too big of a cost, you might team up with other local businesses and create an online shop together. You could also find it cheaper to buy advertising space in local newspapers when you gather a few businesses together to cover the costs and so on.
Collaboration can happen in other ways too. Your business could have a discount scheme that would mean customers of another local business would enjoy a discount with you and vice versa. It’s even possible to combine collaboration with innovative queuing strategies – have a local café provide tasters or get an artist to sing songs for entertainment.
With small businesses feeling the heat in a post-COVID-19 world, coming together and supporting each other in small ways can do a lot of good.
+1. Understand the financial impact of the coronavirus
Small business survival requires a lot of planning right now. The above tips are just some ideas on how you could reinvent your business. It is also important to understand what the COVID-19 crisis has done for your business in terms of the financial impact. By staying on top of your finances, you make it easier to prepare for the future.
There are plenty of resources available to small business and the self-employed. We have resources and information on different government schemes, including:
- Small business loans and grants – including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Small Business Grant Fund and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme
- The income support scheme for the self-employed
- Support to cover employee costs – including the furloughing scheme and the Statutory Sick Pay Scheme
We also have the updated information regarding the second Self-Employed Income Support Scheme and SSP cover available in this post and details of the flexible furloughing scheme available here. Make sure to identify the tools available for your small business and take advantage of them while you still can.
Get help with your small business survival strategy
As the above list of available resources show, your business is not facing this crisis alone. If you are finding it hard to navigate the different financial assistance schemes and ways to prepare your business for the future, you can contact us for more help.
Our experts at Devonshire Green can look at your unique situation and find solutions that work for you. We can help you understand the different schemes, as well as advise you on your financial situation. Contact us today to start your small business survival.