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If you’re a business owner and you’re surviving — congratulations, you’re one of the few.
As of mid-August 2020, about 98,000 small businesses in the US have closed permanently, according to data compiled by Yelp.
So for the survivors out there, what are you doing to stay open—and stay sane at the same time? How are you managing amidst the chaos? As the pandemic continues with no official end in sight, what can business owners do to ensure their survival? Let’s have a look at a few strategies that business owners should consider right now. Some might be obvious, others not so much.
The obvious pivot: more takeout, more delivery
Restaurants were probably According to a survey released by the National Restaurant Association in July, about 1 in 6 restaurants have closed on a permanent or long-term basis in the U.S.
As the pandemic rages on, restaurants and foodservice providers need to not only increase but also get creative with takeout and delivery orders to seek profitability. Of course, the bill for dine-in is on average lower than that for takeout, but there are ways to think outside the box. For example, to prevent having to cede a portion of the profits to the delivery apps, restaurants can suggest that people call the restaurant directly for takeout orders.
Further, it might be time to remove the less profitable items from the menu and to work with suppliers to manage costs when the total value of each order might be less. The good news is that customers will be more understanding when certain items are removed; they understand that disruptions in the supply chain may have caused this.
Selling physical products related to the pandemic
Retailers and manufacturers, if they haven’t already, need to consider that a growing portion of their sales will be pandemic-related now and into the foreseeable future.
This can mean the obvious, such as selling more hand sanitizers and masks, as well as signage about staying safe.
Also, as more people are staying home, retailers and manufacturers should promote the purchase of new furniture or furnishings that make for a better work from home environment. This can include chairs, desks, cushions, or decor. (Customers can also claim it as a tax write-off for “office” expenses.)
Offering remote consultations and digital services
While a challenge, some in-person services can become remote—at least at first or for a few of the meetings.
For example, home improvement or personal care consultations can be handled via videocalls or the sharing of photos. This reduces the number of in-person meetings, making the customer feel safer and at the same time building trust with you as a provider in the process.
This can be a great way to promote the business, too, as you can ask the customer for permission to use a screenshot or a short clip for your website.
Negotiating your lease
Commercial landlords do not like losing tenants, but no doubt, they are aware of the enormous pressure on small businesses to stay open.
Take the time to negotiate your lease, perhaps agreeing to re-sign for lower rent or a smaller space. The landlord may own other properties, and he or she can have you move the business, even temporarily, to another location.
Seeking alternative sources of capital
Though the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ended August 8, 2020—with a lack of clarity as to when it might be revived—businesses are still in need of capital.
All hope is not lost. If small businesses have exhausted their traditional sources of capital, they should consider private lenders that have fewer requirements than do banks, in order to get approved for loans quickly. Much-needed cash can be available as working capital within just a few days.
Admittedly, some of these strategies aren’t exactly a pivot; instead, they are more like an adaptation. This is perfectly OK.
As cases lighten and quarantines lift, you can revert to some of your former services. However, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that the changes you’ve made to your business, including additional services, can also be put to work.
As such, you will emerge stronger than ever before.