Smaller businesses that have been able to stay open throughout the coronavirus pandemic are facing tough times—issues with customer restrictions, changing needs, and a completely altered market for many products and services. Others have been forced to close their doors for good.
But there are solutions to all challenges, and SMEs need to think positive and plan for how they're going to move forward. In this blog, I present six ways that SMEs can rebound after the global health crisis is over.
1. Embrace digitization
It's well understood that businesses have a lot to gain from digitizing their operation. Functioning using paper documents and analogue processes is simply not conducive to efficient and effective business, especially in light of the pandemic.
But digitization can go far beyond encouraging working from home and operating on the cloud, there are actually many digital advances that can help businesses—and specifically can be a huge benefit on the other side of the crisis. One of those is business process automation.
"Business process automation involves automating a range of different day-to-day processes and tasks carried out by your business," says Document Options, specialists in business digitization. "It uses advanced technologies to help businesses run more efficiently and effectively. By getting information to the right people at the right time, it can completely change how your organization operates for the better."
2. Collaborate with other businesses
Businesses will emerge from the pandemic facing a world with new priorities and preferences. Now's the time for businesses to work together in order to make the most of a situation that everyone is going into with a blueprint. The adage 'We're all in this together' certainly applies to small businesses, almost all of which will be facing challenges.
A great way to overcome these challenges is to work together, rather than working apart as rivals. Small businesses should learn from big businesses, such as pizza company Papa John’s, which recently announced a collaboration with Heinz Beans to create a breakfast pizza.
This kind of collaboration benefits both brands as it provides them with publicity. And it can work on a smaller scale for local businesses too.
3. Invest in marketing
When businesses face struggles with their cash flow they're most likely to begin cutting their services that are deemed least essential. This health crisis has certainly presented businesses with cash flow issues, and this has led them to get rid of or reduce activities such as marketing. The problem, however, is that marketing is the lifeblood of your business.
The important thing to note here is that your recovery will be slow after the pandemic if you're not prepared to put money into marketing. The good news is that many businesses won’t be putting their full marketing budget into force—with 69% of businesses saying they'll reduce ad spend in 2020. If you buck the trend and put money into marketing, your material will face far less competition.
Spend less time copy and pasting messages, manually following up with leads and clients, and more time meeting and serving your clients. Automate your marketing, sales and data entry with Keap. https://t.co/oIAXo3ATG6 pic.twitter.com/7eiuxS5QxL— Keap (@KeapGrowing) June 11, 2020
4. Take a close look at your finances
Now's the perfect time to take a close look at your business finances with scrutiny. The need to be realistic about what you're spending and to keep tabs on its effectiveness can provide you with an opportunity to trim the fat and create a leaner and more efficient business model.
With fewer needless expenses your business can actually be in a great position to grow quickly as the markets begin to return to normal.
5. Upskill your team
Just as you should be looking at ways to reduce your expenses, you also need to ensure that your staff members are providing you with the kind of productivity you're looking for. Some SME business leaders mistake issues with productivity as being a problem with lazy or non-enthusiastic staff members—but it actually points to a very different issue.
Productivity relates much more to the skills, equipment and technologies that your teams have in order to do their work. In many cases investing more money in improving the skills of your staff or upgrading equipment can make an exponentially positive difference to productivity.
6. Be flexible
The time we are living in is unprecedented, and nobody knows what to expect as we emerge from the pandemic and normality returns to life. This means that SMEs must be ready to be flexible and change their models and approaches as is dictated by changing customer demands and expectations.
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