Let’s start with the obvious: 2020 was not a great year for small businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about unexpected challenges and permanently altered the way businesses run.
While all of your business problems aren’t simply going to disappear when the calendar flips to 2021, it’s important to keep a positive outlook. For businesses that were fortunate, lucky, or savvy enough (or a mixture of all three) to survive, there’s still work to be done!
An astounding 83 percent of small business owners are optimistic going into the new year. That means a large majority of your competitors are adjusting on the fly and gearing up to better serve their customers. Are you prepared to do the same?
Below are some tips on how your small business can not only keep the lights on in 2021, but can thrive in a completely changed business world.
Improve Your Website
Even well before the pandemic hit, your website was important. Your site serves as your virtual business card. It’s your main selling point. Are you treating it as such?
A favorable user experience (UX) goes a long way for your digital customers. UX has been defined and written about by pretty much every agency in the world. We prefer a simpler definition: how easily can your customers find what they’re looking for?
User experience consists of many variables. We’ll focus on a few:
- Mobile – 2021 is just a few short weeks away. Now is not the time to invest in a mobile-friendly website. 5 years ago was! More than 50 percent of all website traffic now comes from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Is your website easily navigable for your customers?
- Speed – Up to 90 percent of visitors will abandon your site if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load. And they won’t be back…
- Conversions – How easy is it for your customers to convert on your website? Does your checkout process consist of 12 steps and take 10 minutes? Make it as easy as possible for a seamless conversion process.
Strengthen Your Digital Presence
Wait, didn’t we just talk about our website? Yes, but there’s so much more that impacts your overall digital presence than just your website.
Social media and digital advertising are two of the most effective ways to not only communicate with your current customers, but they’re also platforms that can drive sales and other business conversions. Both of these strategies require their own entire blog posts, but here’s a simple trick to keep in mind: be where your target customer is! There’s no reason to be investing time, money, and manpower into posting on Pinterest if your customers aren’t on that platform.
Social Media Tips:
- Content is Still King – Create and share the type of content your customer cares about like relevant industry, money-saving tips, sales and promotions, and more.
- Calls-To-Action (CTA) – What do you want your followers and fans to do? Each post should have a goal in mind. Encourage them to follow the link, share, comment, like, etc.
- Did You Say Free? – Everyone loves free stuff. Don’t be afraid to run a contest or giveaway. The amount of engagement your company receives will far outweigh the price of the giveaway (unless it’s a Porsche or something!)
Digital Advertising Tips:
- Focus on ROI – This is pretty simple. Since advertising includes spending money on ads, it’s important to focus on the return they’re delivering. Too many times companies focus on metrics like Click-Through Rate (CTR) or Cost-Per-Click (CPC). Instead, make optimizations that result in more money in your pocket.
- Be Sneaky – Chances are your competitors are advertising. There are plenty of tools online to see what they’re up to – don’t be afraid to investigate. It will give you a good starting point if you’re just diving into the advertising world.
- Test, Test, & Test Some More – Remember that ROI? This is how you find the best strategies that drive revenue. Test different keywords, ad copy, landing pages and more.
We’re not politicians or pretend to be. However, we can speculate on another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans for businesses. If at all possible, take advantage of this! This can help keep your business afloat amid another potential lockdown. Be sure to read all the stipulations and guidelines on repayment, forgiveness, and more.
Completely aside from PPP Loans, did you know that there are likely grants and loans set aside for businesses just like yours? The Small Business Administration (SBA) exists in part to help small businesses by providing grants and loans to help them not only start up, but also expand.
There are various grants and competitions of sorts available for small businesses and businesses owned by minorities, women, US Armed Forces veterans, the LGBTQ community, and more. Do some research based on your company and apply away!
While applying for those grants above, don’t be afraid to network as much as possible. Small business owners love to support one another, especially those from the same background. Ask questions, share tips, and absorb as much information as possible.
Don’t forget about networking in your own area, too. Join your city or town’s chamber of commerce. You’ll meet (hopefully in person soon – if not, virtually) with other business owners and community leaders. Many chambers have special offers for member businesses like email blasts, an event calendar, and more.
Sure, social media is a great way to communicate and interact with your customers. But it’s also a great place to network and join groups within your industry. Join some relevant Facebook and LinkedIn groups. Treat it like local networking; soak up advice and look for new ways to improve your business.