Even as we learn to live alongside the COVID-19 virus, operations are far from business-as-usual. While companies in industries across the board have adapted in order to survive, it is smaller businesses that have fostered some of the most notable shifts. Looking to the future, these changes are likely to continue redefining how smaller companies operate within the United States and beyond.
As a strategy management consultant who is well-versed in solving complex business challenges, Louis Olave of Miami, Florida, has taken special interest in the unique ways that small businesses have adapted in order to overcome difficulties amidst the pandemic. He shares a few of the key ways in which small businesses have adapted to survive (and even thrive) despite current circumstances.
Shifting to Online Operations
As the pandemic first ramped up in March of this year, initial lockdown measures forced many small businesses to close their physical store doors to the public, presenting serious obstacles for their future survival. In a scramble, these businesses turned to digital platforms to open or revitalize online storefronts to remotely cater to their customers.
While many transitions were rocky at first and some small businesses did not survive, many were able to successfully pivot to online operations, allowing them to continue meeting consumer needs despite forced closures. Even after brick-and-mortar stores reopened to the public in states across the nation, many small businesses continued leaning on digital platforms to further bolster business and expand sales. Many were able to easily shift to video conferencing as the new conference call of choice, replacing in-person meetings. While this was a difficult move for some, it was necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help businesses continue operating.
According to Louis Olave, the accelerated transition to cloud computing is another move that many small businesses made. Cloud technology services have allowed processes to be managed wherever employees and customers are in the world. Cloud computing can also support growth and help scale small businesses into medium or large enterprises.
Building Stronger Social Media Presences
Pre-pandemic, most large corporations were already successfully leveraging social media followings to extend reach and promote sales. As highlighted by Louis Olave, the nation’s small businesses still relied largely on more traditional marketing methods. Many small-town businesses had not yet tapped into the potential of platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
An increase in online storefronts and online business operations forced many small businesses to develop stronger social media presences. As a result, many have been better able to resolve customer issues and communicate with their client bases than ever before. Outside of increasing small business’s understanding of their buyers, it has also opened the opportunity for better overall customer satisfaction.
Leaning on Community Support
Without the capital or manpower which backed larger corporations, small businesses turned directly to their communities to leverage support especially at the start of the pandemic. In truth, many of the nation’s small businesses have survived because they have successfully positioned themselves throughout this year not just as commercial entities, but as valuable community assets.
Faced with overwhelming uncertainty and fear, many small, locally owned companies stepped up to the plate at the pandemic’s start, offering support and assistance to their communities whenever possible. Over the last year, the results of these community-building actions invigorated ties, fueling local movements to support small businesses over large corporations. In investing in their community ties to leverage support, many small businesses have also taken measures to humanize their brands through transparent marketing, volunteer work, and increasingly frank communication methods.
Louis Olave on Embracing Innovation
While all businesses were forced to make massive changes in order to survive, small businesses had arguably more freedom to seek innovation and creatively implement cutting-edge solutions. Generally, corporate giants are most noted as industry innovators. That said, when faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses proved their own ability to creatively address setbacks and problems. According to Louis Olave, this is largely because small businesses have the unique ability to micro-tailor their services to best fit their community’s needs — a strength which many leveraged to survive the pandemic’s rockiest moments despite tumultuous challenges.