COVID-19 has been the primary focus of business owners since March 2020 when the economy slowed down and mandatory lockdowns ensued in the United States.
In Alignable’s survey Coronavirus Impact and Recovery of the Small Business Economy, over 10,000 small business owners were surveyed across the United States and Canada to track the impact of relief programs as well as the overall condition of small businesses.
According to the survey, 28% of small business owners cite that the COVID-19 impact is on the decline, and 38% report that the impact is critically affecting their business.
Although 72% of small business owners still report a degree of negative impact, it no longer remains that most small businesses are experiencing a significant negative impact, but rather a “declining” negative impact.
While the issue has not reached its full resolve, there are indeed signs of improvement as the numbers have reached their lowest point since the onset of the pandemic, which is a positive.
However, at this point, almost a year and a half later, it no longer presents itself as the greatest concern for small businesses.
A big concern for small and medium-sized business owners is the rising cost of supplies.
This brings our attention to another long-standing issue that has affected business owners and consumers alike: inflation.
Although the Federal Reserve makes the effort to adjust its interest rates to control inflation, it continues to occur at a rate of about 2% annually (and has averaged 2.4% in 2021).
As business owners navigate the current economic landscape towards recovery, inflation will continue to be a drawback that lessens their profits and revenue as a whole.
To strengthen the local, small business economy, it has been recommended that businesses move towards encouraging their consumers to purchase from them over the big corporate retailers and online providers.
But this can be challenging to do, since oftentimes the larger online retailers offer their products for cheaper than their small business competitors. With their lower prices, it proves difficult for small business owners to pass on any inflation increases to their customers.
How can small businesses thrive against inflation and competition from large online retailers?
- Focus on your ideal customer.
Marketing is a key part of any business, but the marketing budget of a business is wasted through outdated forms of advertising.
Shift your marketing efforts towards a more targeted approach using reliable data to find who your most reliable customers are, so that you can target them specifically.
Tools like Facebook Insights and Google Analytics provide meaningful data about who visits your website or Facebook page and their demographics so that you can better target your advertising. Focusing on these specific demographics will help you to run more targeted ads on Google and Facebook to reach your ideal customer.
- Perfect your business’s core competencies.
Small business owners have tried to keep up to date with what’s relevant in today’s day and age by providing other products and services outside of their core business functions. This can sound like diversification, but it can be hurting your business if it is not bringing in a strong stream of income.
In fact, it can end up being a waste of money and resources (and most importantly, time).
Instead, spend your time and resources on perfecting the core functions of your business to please your current customers.
- Keep your current customers happy.
The best way to keep a steady stream of revenue for your business is to keep your current customers happy, so that they keep coming back to you. However, this is not something that takes place automatically.
Business owners can make the effort to keep their current customers satisfied by placing a stronger emphasis on customer service.
This can look different depending on the product or service, but you want to make sure that your customers feel like you are hearing them, and that their opinion matters.
It has become simple for customers to share their experiences with your business through reviewing platforms like Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook. This means that you want to keep a close eye on your reviews to ensure all of your customers are satisfied with your product or service.
Make sure to respond to any support inquiries promptly to resolve any issues. You can also ask your current customers for feedback and implement changes that are feasible and can upgrade your business.
- Grow your business’s online presence.
In 2021, it doesn’t make sense for businesses to lack in their online presence. This becomes the only way for your customers to find your business online so that you can actively compete with online retailers.
This begins with developing a business website and a social media page on all of the major platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Google My Business, and Yelp.
Populate your website and social media pages with relevant content related to your business, as well as search engine optimization (SEO) keywords that will drive traffic to your site.
That way, when your potential customers search for “affordable dermatologists near me”, your business’s website can be seen by your potential customers to schedule a consultation.
- Provide more flexible payment options.
One of the biggest deterring factors for customers can be the cost of a product, especially when larger online retailers are providing the product for cheaper.
This is where you as a business owner can stand out by offering alternative payment options for payment plans.
Denefits is a complete payment solution that approves all customers for payment plans, regardless of their credit score. Payments are broken up into affordable monthly installments so even more customers can choose your business over a larger competitor. This will also help grow your business’s revenue by accepting more customers to combat inflation.
As a small business owner, it’s important that you do what is needed to recover following the COVID-19 crisis, as well as combating inflation to stand out from your online competitors. Take the necessary steps today by switching to more flexible payment options with Denefits.