The stunning beauty of a Maidenhair tree is matched only by its remarkable resilience to survive all sorts of environmental challenges that topple less hardy species. The tree agelessly defies strong winds, pollution, and drought. The secret of how a Maidenhair tree can live for more than 1,000 years was recently discovered—its ability to adapt to environmental stressors helps it survive.
Small businesses are in a place where adaptation and survival are paramount. The biggest concern for many business owners is simply to keep business coming in and the lights on. How can small business owners adapt to and survive these tough times?
Avoid the Noise
Business owners shoulder lots of responsibility and wear many hats to keep a business operating smoothly. That’s stressful in itself but is magnified by the flood of news hitting us daily, from the economy and immigration to taxes and healthcare. The swarming, ever-present media coverage breeds a lot of negativity and uncertainty. And for business owners, that’s a double-dose of worry.
Keeping focused at a time like this is a big mental boost to cutting stress and maximizing your efficiency. And cutting out the noise from the media storm is one way to get there.
Master Your Priorities
Keeping a small business running requires expert skills at setting priorities and the drive to see them through. The current business environment seems to have multiplied the necessity of prioritizing to keep things moving. Keeping cash flow as (or near) the top priority is essential. This may require some creative analysis of inventory and expenses. What cuts can you make to non-essential expenses? Can you reduce travel or overtime pay? The decisions will necessarily be difficult, but they may make surviving in these economic conditions possible.
Create Something New
Business owners rely on creativity to set our products and services apart. That may be more important now than ever, not as much for prosperity, as it is to bring life into a small business.
Take the concert industry, for example. In-person shows, a key revenue generator, are canceled worldwide. Rock group the Avett Brothers had an idea to keep their music flowing and fans cheering. They found a venue that could handle their fans and social distancing–the Charlotte Motor Speedway! The setting was ideal with drive-in seating and plenty of space. The event attracted over 1,500 cars and 9,000 paying customers on the live broadcast.
How can you keep customers coming back? With a little time and minimal cash outlay, you could start a customer loyalty program that rewards customers with gifts or smart discounts. The more a customer spends with you, the more they get back. It’s simple and effective. Everyone likes to be appreciated.
Leverage Your Messages
Leverage your creative efforts on your website and social media. If you don’t have a digital presence or storefront, you’re behind the times. You can design and build your own simple website without prior experience. If you have a restaurant, consider adding online ordering (for example, through the free theorderingapp.com).
Communicate regularly with customers and prospects with an online blog, emails, and social media. Host a podcast or webinar to keep your business in front of customers and attract new ones. Be creative and find a way to add value to customers’ and prospects’ lives. These types of events are becoming more popular, so find a way to make your offering unique.
Explore All Available Financial Resources
The US Government has provided some relief to small business owners through the Paycheck Protection Program. If you haven’t already explored this program, contact the Small Business Association for assistance.
There are several other sources of money that may be available to you to keep your business going in the right direction. Some sources to consider are:
- State and city loans and grants
- Private organization loans and grants
- Bank lines of credit
- Small Business Administration loans
(It’s pretty obvious, but also remember to collect any accounts receivable due from customers).
Stay in Touch and Stay in Front
Business has changed. Customer’s interactions with businesses and their community have changed. No one knows if or when it will return to the “way it was.” But we are certain that small business owners, in any economic conditions, play a vital role in the well-being of the community. Help yourself and your community by staying in front of your customers through social media, signage, or virtual events. Keep updated social media pages and a website that beams positive messages to your customers and community. In that way, you remain part of the community, and they a part of your business.
We’re Better Together
Many small business owners are facing struggles that, while extraordinary, can be overcome. Creativity, resourcefulness, technology, and persistence have always been important ingredients in a small business, maybe now more than ever. Small business owners can adapt and survive in challenging environments, like the resilient and sturdy Maidenhair tree. And while these times may be unprecedented, our actions do not need to be. If you are a small business owner that needs help or know of one that does, please reach out to us to talk. We’re better together.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Investing regardless of the strategy selected always involves risk, including the possibility of losing one’s entire investment.