It’s no secret that thousands of businesses are struggling in this COVID-19 world. Small businesses have been hit especially hard by the crisis and social distancing orders, as they often have fewer resources to draw on during a slowdown, and many have been forced closed by public health measures. Finding yourself suddenly cut off from your customers is lethal for these businesses, and figuring out how your small business will recover from social distancing when we’re able to come into closer contact again can feel overwhelming.
Which Small Businesses are Most Impacted by Social Distancing?
The COVID-19 impact varies by type of business, with these three categories most affected: personal service, hospitality, and retail. The smaller the company, the harder the hit, with companies with fewer than 20 employees most affected.
Why? Because a small business with fewer than 20 employees typically lacks cash flow and capital. Those companies were the first to reduce hours for employees or lay off employees. Those businesses were also the first to stop hiring subcontractors.
Just How Much are Small Businesses Impacted by Social Distancing?
Small businesses make up 99.7% of U.S. business, almost half of U.S. employment, and serve as a major source of U.S. job creation and productivity growth. How these businesses fare in the first few months after the pandemic subsides will likely determine the speed and trajectory of the U.S. economic recovery as a whole.
On a grander scale, the economy lost 701,000 jobs by the middle of April. The unemployment rate rose to 4.4%. At least 10 million people applied for jobless benefits in the last two weeks of March, overwhelming many states’ unemployment offices.
Five Tips to Help Your Small Business Recover from the Effects of Social Distancing
- Work from home
Many businesses from small to large have allowed employees to work from home. Employers and employees are seeing this change as a benefit. Both employers and employees are finding they can be very productive in the home environment.
Allowing employees to work from home may have another benefit, as small businesses attempt to recoup the loss of income. In a recent survey, employers were asked where they hope to cut costs going forward, and 40% said cuts would be made in what’s called non-employee spending. Non-employee spending includes things such as office supplies and specific capital equipment. The big-ticket item for non-employee spending is the overhead cost of maintaining the workplace, whether it’s an office or retail space.
- Stay connected with your customers
Even though social distancing from your small business means your customers may not be buying from you right now, you’ll need them more than ever once things settle down and they can come back to you in person. That’s why it’s so important to stay connected through virtual channels. Here are a few ways to make that happen:
- Send an email
Email your customers to let them know how they can get your product or service during this time. Are you doing curbside pickup? Offering virtual consults? Let them know.
- Update your website
Of course, an email will only reach the people whose contact info you have. For everyone else, you need to update your website. People who come to your website need to know what you are – or aren’t – offering. If you’re still operating in some way, make that clear front and center on your homepage so you don’t miss out on potential business. If you’re completely out of commission, let people know why: by showing that you’re prioritizing the safety of your employees and community, people might be more likely to support you when things settle down.
Don’t have a website? Create a Facebook page to get some visibility and give people insight into what you are doing during this time.
- Ask for ideas
No one knows better what your customers want than your customers themselves. Everyone is dealing with social distancing differently, so it can benefit you to just ask – what do folks want from your business right now? Letting your customers guide your crisis strategy ensures that you’re providing products and services people want. Plus, it allows you to continue to market and connect with your customers even when they’re not coming into your store.
- Send an email
- Content marketing
Another way to invest now for future gains is through your content marketing. Creating high-quality content is something you can do by yourself, on your own schedule. You can send it to your email list and post it on social media, keeping your customers engaged during social distancing. But it will also serve you in the long run, especially if you keep SEO in mind. Because folks are spending more time online during social distancing, now is a great time to offer this kind of content: it’s a marketing channel for you and a benefit to your fans and potential customers.
- Local government support
Now is the time to lean into your local government aids, such as Indy’s Covid-19 Rapid Response Hub. This provides answers to frequently asked questions from a variety of people and also includes a question intake form to route small businesses to the information, resource, or service provider they need via a network of subject matter experts and community connectors.
- Make a disaster plan
Disaster planning is a critical part of running a small business, and there are copious resources for confronting crises of all sorts – whether they’re manmade, natural, or in the case of Covid-19, a combination of both. Entrepreneurs have been through a disaster before and lived to tell the tale. Beyond the immediate relief, we also need to start thinking about ways to help small businesses bounce back once shutdowns and social distancing requirements are relaxed.
“People who start small businesses are, by nature, optimistic. The odds that they will be able to bounce back are strong.”
Davant is in This With You
We feel the aches and pains and are in this with you. One thing remains the same – our promise to exceed your expectations in all printing, mailing, signs, and promo items. We work with the people, not just the business, and what better time to come together as humans and lend a helping hand? From six feet, of course.
We want to hear about your next project, no matter the size. Give us a call: (317) 849-6565.