Nate Nead is the President & CEO of DEV.co, a custom software development company based in Seattle.
Small businesses are the heartbeat of this country. That’s not a cute belief or patriotic campaign statement – it’s a fact. There are an estimated 30.2 million small businesses in the United States. They comprise 99.9 percent of all businesses in the entire country. Unfortunately, millions of these businesses are considered “non-essential” amid the Coronavirus outbreak. This means they’re forced to close their doors and shut down business operations – at least in their traditional format. As a result, 7.5 million businesses are at risk of shutting down permanently.
If your business has been temporarily shut down or slowed down, you’re reeling. You aren’t sure what to do, how to respond, and how to properly balance the safety of your employees and customers against practical aspects, like your balance sheet.
And while you have to play by the rules, all is not lost. You can – and should – use this as an opportunity to reinvest in your business and tackle all of those tasks that you know you should’ve been doing for years.
3 Digital Tasks for SBOs
The great thing about the internet and cloud technology is that it enables small business owners to run all or parts of their businesses remotely. So regardless of where you’re quarantined, you have an opportunity to invest in the following digital tasks:
1. Engage on Social Media
You know that social media marketing is important, yet it’s one of those tasks that doesn’t seem very pressing on a day-to-day basis – so you put it off again and again. Could this be your opportunity to fully invest?
Commit to spending at least an hour a day on social media over the next two weeks. That’s 10-14 hours of dedicated time for social media strategy. Use this time to modify and enhance your profiles, engage with followers, publish fresh content, run paid advertisements, join groups that are relevant to your industry and/or target audience, etc.
This is also a great time to test out different social media automation tools – like Buffer – which will help streamline your efforts when business returns to normal.
2. Invest in SEO
This is another element that many business owners neglect, yet it could singlehandedly catapult your business to the top of your niche.
Today is a great time to partner up with a private label SEO service to develop a proactive link building strategy that will improve your branding, search presence, and conversions. It’ll feel slow and ineffective at first, but once customers start opening up their wallets again, you’ll be in position to reap a bountiful harvest. It’s all about planting the seed in anticipation of what’s to come!
3. Consider a Virtual Pivot
Dozens of companies have used the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to pivot.
A greeting cards company is partnering with therapists to offer free virtual therapy.
An automated workforce solutions company has launched a new tool to provide resources and community for those being laid off.
A company that’s traditionally focused on site search tools has partnered with the U.S. Department of State to create a COVID-19 informational hub to share travel alerts with the public.
Whether your primary focus is greeting cards or software, there are ways to pivot. Whether that pivot will be temporary or permanent remains to be seen. The important thing is that you take action now. By pivoting today, you can restructure your business in such a way that you’re able to operate virtually and meet a set of needs that exist today – at this very moment.
Use Your Time and Resources Wisely
Some small business owners have ample time on their hands right now. Others are swamped with work and overwhelmed by challenges. But regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, now is a time to be intentional and resourceful. Use your time wisely and don’t miss this opportunity to reorganize and reshape your business for a swiftly evolving digital world.
In six months, a year, or three years from now, thousands of small businesses will look back on this pandemic and cite it as one of their catalysts for growth and success. (That might seem shocking right now, but it’s true.) Many small business owners will come to realize that the weight and magnitude of the moment kept them from being reactive and forced them to recharge, reiterate, and/or pivot in meaningful ways. If you use your time wisely, it’s possible that you’ll be among this group.