There is no doubt that the COVID pandemic has had a huge and lasting impact on businesses worldwide. Everyone from your corner coffee shop to Facebook have been forced to rethink the business practices we all took for granted. What does this mean for business in the future? Here are some of the challenges facing businesses today – and a few ideas on how to respond to the uncertainties.
Business was already shifting heavily towards e-commerce, and the coronavirus only increased that impact. If there’s anything this year has highlighted, it’s the staying power of a business that’s able to go completely virtual vs a business that is solely brick and mortar. This doesn’t mean that small businesses are obsolete, however. Small businesses that rely on a storefront or physical presence have been hit hard, and it is a challenge to know how and when to re-open or move forward in the post-COVID era.
If you previously relied on having customers in your store, try utilizing solutions that involve delivery or pickup instead of shopping in person. This may mean investing more time and effort into your social media and website presence. For small businesses across a variety of industries, sales have successfully moved online, either filling the gap until things reopen, or adding an additional way to reach customers. The beauty of these current times is that if you successfully move products online, you could increase your customer base to extend beyond your local neighborhood.
Now is the time to utilize and build your online presence for social media as well. Hosting webinars, creating a podcast, or upping your content creation are all ways to connect with customers in a way that isn’t dependent on them walking in the door. Focus on creating quality content that connects with your customer in meaningful and impactful ways. Even if it isn’t the most obvious marketing strategy, establishing yourself as a thought leader or a business worth listening to goes deeper than just the ROI. It’s also the perfect time to add to your skillset. If you’ve wanted to add video content but never felt you had time to learn and implement it, this is your chance!
It goes almost without saying that your workforce has been impacted by the pandemic. Many businesses were not ready to move completely online or close in such a short time. As we’ve all grown accustomed to a virtual climate, now is the time to think about whether a continuing work-from-home option makes sense for your business. Beyond the age-old discussions about productivity and employee satisfaction/engagement, if you’ve had employees working from home over the past few months, you’ve experienced a trial period of a remote structure. This gives you excellent insight into whether or not the model makes sense for your workforce. Some companies have taken the hybrid approach of keeping remote work as an option, while allowing employees the choice to work from home or at the office. For other companies, the traditional in-office structure may still be best.
Your business is your business, and no one knows it like you do. Only you can answer the question of what you want your business to be and where it is headed, but in a year where so much has been disrupted, it’s an excellent opportunity to adjust your plans and goals. Asking yourself the questions of what your customers really want/need and discovering solutions (even if they’re unconventional) on how to meet those needs are what will set businesses apart in a post-COVID era. If there was ever a time to reinvent your business, now is the time.
Depending on your industry and company size, you may have been hit so hard that a return to “normal” seems impossible. Especially in this climate, it is crucial to continuously adapt to new and uncertain conditions. Even if it is challenging (and it most likely will be!) rebuilding your business brand is still possible, and you can turn the challenge into an opportunity for growth. No one can say for sure what’s next or how long the pandemic will continue to last, but it’s not too soon to look ahead and develop a plan for the future.