I ’m starting this column out with the grim fact that according to a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh survey, 35 percent of small businesses could shut their doors after months of COVID-related struggles. Now that we have the stark reality out there, I want to remind small business owners of a few things to fire them up.
Grit. How you got to where you are today (or prior to our new coronavirus reality) is the blood, sweat and tears you put into your small business every single day. Speaking as one small business owner to another, I know it’s tough. Each day, each minute brings changing loan guidelines, swiftly moving HR recommendations and safety measures, all of which are moving targets.
Remember your grit and how determined you were to make your business a go. Give yourself moments to collect yourself, think through the needed adjustments and then get back in the ring.
Your grit or stamina will see you through this, so remember to take care of yourself. Having grit doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to others to commiserate, take a walk or just sit quietly for a few minutes.
The economy is literally and figuratively banking on small businesses to bring our economy back. With a little self-love, care and grit, you got this. Your determination will get you through this and further than the average person.
The power of nimbleness. Think of your nimbleness as a super power. Don’t let the rush of today make you forget that as a small business you are nimble, which gives you an advantage over many other businesses. You can maneuver and flex as needed when you see opportunity.
Think of your nimbleness as a super power. Don’t let the rush of today make you forget that as a small business you are nimble, which gives you an advantage over many other businesses. You can maneuver and flex as needed when you see opportunity.
As I write this, the world is changing at an unprecedented pace to accommodate a new normal in the workplace, product innovations, and services. What might have worked three months ago, maybe doesn’t work today.
Look around, is there something you need to do to be a solution to the new normal? For example, if manufacturers are going to be required to implement a number of new safety measures, is there an opportunity for your company to provide a product or service when you look at their needs and the potential impact?
One of the first indicators of a changing need was how quickly the sign companies came out with social distancing decals for essential places of businesses. You are able to do what others cannot do because of your size. Flex, be nimble and move at the speed of light because you can. This is your advantage, use it.
Knowledge is everything. Learn as much as you can, where you can, when it comes to trends, funding options, rules, regulations, safety, supply-chain impact and more.
Talk with your customers, talk with your colleagues, consult expert resources and participate in online conferences as much as possible to stay on top of what’s occurring with an eye on what’s coming. There’s a lot of information out there, but it’s better that you are informed than caught off guard.
As with everything, use your logical thinking skills to gather and then parse through all of the information to make the right decisions based on your situation.
Keep your foot on the gas when it comes to marketing and communications. Many times, the first reaction to an economic de-acceleration is to stop all marketing. Whatever you can do or afford, keep doing it, even if your doors are temporarily closed. A few minutes a week spent on keeping up relationships with your customers, partners and vendors can go a long way. They will appreciate it and you never know where a new opportunity will present itself.
While there’s social media, please remember reaching out through a phone call might be the best way to connect because it demonstrates a personal, caring commitment to their well-being.
Please note that not every call has to be a video call as there’s a lot of video conferencing fatigue taking place, but it doesn’t mean a good old-fashioned phone call is out of order. In fact, those on the receiving end will welcome the refreshing, less stressful phone call.
To my fellow small business owners, know that you are not alone and take the time to recalibrate, rethink and re-energize. The situation may be a new normal, but you will rise to the occasion because that’s what we do.
Lisa Cruz is president and owner of Red Shoes Inc.