Here we are small businesses! Some of us have closed doors unfortunately, and many of us have reinvented our operations, the way we sell, the channels that we sell through, and have shifted or adapted to the current business climate. In my honest opinion, we will NEVER go back to the way we were operating pre-COVID. That being said, we as small businesses must continue to leverage tools, platforms, and new applications to boost our performance, communications, and better meet customer demands and experiences.
There is no "NEW NORMAL," there is only the way we are doing business now. Congratulations if you have hung in there and are finding ways to survive. We recently completed some deep SMB research and have uncovered a number of ways businesses are surviving, here are just 5 that might be helpful for you as you cling on to ways to sustain and keep your doors open.
Take advantage of PPP, SBA super low interest loans, and Small Business Administration resources - I say this with caution, as you have to read the small print and put accounting and bookkeeping protocols in place...especially if you want PPP forgiveness. What is the difference between PPP and EIDL? PPP is the payroll protection program and is specifically geared towards paying contractors and payroll, including yourself if you are a sole proprietor or an independent contractor or a one-man/woman shop. When the first round of PPP loans came out, they did not include the Gig Workers and independent contractors and there were holes all in the specifics but the SBA worked hard to rectify this, simplify the process for SOHO or ICs, and include many of the small businesses that were previously excluded. On the SBA Small Business Loans EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loans), the interest is 3.75% and is geared towards small businesses that experienced a significant drop in revenue from 2019 to 2020. There are calculators and resources everywhere, and if you want to learn from other small businesses who have taken the advances, monies, loans, then be sure to search FaceBook (here is one I am on) and join one of the private groups as that is where I learn a ton about the best resources and a ton of questions coming in from other small businesses.
Refresh, Update, and Transform your Web & Marketing Tools to be more Interactive and Customer-centered - Your social media, website, newsletters, google pages, and other landing sites are the source your customers are using to order/transact, buy, learn, research, and communicate with you as they lean towards virtual relationships and decrease their visits to your offices, stores, headquarters, etc. Be sure to invest in those resources that are now the priority manner in which they do business with you. If you need support in a refresh or need to set up your social media sites, and even your Google Company pages, be sure to contact vMarque or fill out an inquiry form. Your website may have went from a static information site 18 months ago, to now being an interactive lead generation platform for buying, selling, collaboration and much more. Be sure to explore our small business packages to see how we can support your modernization to meet today's changing business world.
Adopt virtual and digital tools to automate your small business processes and operations - the lists are long but we are beginning to put some pieces together for you to search small business tools to support your virtual and mobile operations. Be sure to do your homework, research the options, and select the best option that fits your budget and business. Prioritize your needs first, and then take it one step at a time. You may start out adopting 2 to 3 mobile applications or signing up for a small number of subscriptions to add automation to your website...just keep in mind that it might be overwhelming so if you become a customer of vMarque, we provide recommendations for your business as you work with us on your marketing, branding, and web updates. Explore the list we are preparing to help you decide...
Cost Containment and Expense Management, Hire a great Book Keeper who is CPA certified or consult with your Accounting Firm - Most small businesses have seen a 50% or more drop in annual revenues from 2019 to 2020. This is creating a number of challenges for small business owners as they are in the one hand having to layoff but on the other hand are doing their best to meet PPP requirements to keep employees employed. This is driving small business owners and managers to reflect on their overall expenses and costs. We are all having to make major sacrifices as we prioritize what costs to cut, what services to live without and what expenses need to be better managed. This is always a good practice but now we are being forced to closely monitor our accounts payable more than ever. Work closely with your book keeper, CPA, accounting firm if you can and if you do not have one you are working with, you may want to consider this as you work on staying open and sustaining your small business. I recently hired a book keeper on UpWork, a virtual contractor hiring and matching site that I have used in my business for more than a decade. On a side note: you will need a good book keeper to help you with tracking your PPP and EIDL expenses to support with the forgiveness paperwork for the PPP loan and to meet compliance requirements for the EIDL loan.
Leverage state and local small business resources. AND move fast - do not forget about your local SBA offices and state/city resources that might be available for your industry, your small business. Each industry will have a number of FREE resources, advisory, services, and tools from your state and local small business offices. Some might be specific to black owned businesses, woman owned businesses, and other affiliations. Explore resources in local organizations and non-profits as well. You might find some very surprising resources you never knew existed.
Be ReMARQUEable Virtually.™