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The COVID-19 pandemic has hit many small businesses like a hurricane. I have been both a small business owner and a small business consultant for the last 10 years, so I know what it’s like to deal with a crisis. Here are some of my suggestions for navigating the current climate.
1. Use Facebook Ads And Add Some Cents To Your Budget
Facebook ads are an extremely hot commodity as social platforms essentially have a fully captive audience at this point. If you have an online product, I highly recommend running Facebook ads. When setting up ads, ensure that you’re not using whole numbers to set your ad budget. For example, if you run an ad at a cost of $5 per day, a competitor could win that ad space by simply bidding $5.01. Add some cents to the end of your daily budget to boost your odds.
2. Move Events Online And Add A Physical Touch Through Delivery
Rather than cancel your physical events, move them into a digital meeting space, such as Zoom, and send out some kind of physical item to your speakers to incorporate a physical element. This can simply mean putting together a $20 branded gift basket. Encourage viewers to tune in for a chance to win a gift basket as well, or if you have the budget, send one to the first 20 people who sign up. Try to do this only if you can do so safely.
3. Rent Out Your Office Assets
If you have a physical office space that has assets such as computers, desks and chairs, consider renting them out. Many people in big cities do not have designated home offices nor the space to store office chairs and desks once they return to their usual workplaces, so they won’t necessarily want to buy office furniture. But many of those working from home temporarily do need ergonomic desks and chairs in the meantime. Offer to rent out your equipment with a deposit and a contract.
4. Lean Into Your Community And Small Niches
This is the time to lean heavily on phrases like “locally made,” “small-batch” or “family-run.” Incorporate these into your key messaging as often as possible.
Give back to your communities or niches whenever possible. Check in on your marginalized communities and minority groups who may require additional support at this time. See if you can offer to donate products or time or even just exchange words of support and kindness.
Small businesses that are within the same niche could also consider partnering up and offering combined packages or using each other’s logistics systems to keep costs low wherever possible.
5. Talk Openly About Challenges And Ask For Help
Showing vulnerability as a brand is one of the best things you can do at this moment. People value authenticity, so don’t shy away from talking about any challenges that your business is experiencing or asking for help if you need it. People all over the world are rallying together over issues that feel real to them.
6. Be Real And Original
Try to avoid any jargon that feels like it was written by a PR agency. Authenticity should be a top priority right now. Avoid repeating anything that we already know to be true — such as how we’re in “an unprecedented time.” Instead, focus on what you, your employees or your community members are feeling and experiencing.
7. Seek Financial Support
To help you get through this crisis, seek grants and loans from local banks, government entities, business incubators, etc. Start by asking your financial advisor what kind of funding is available in your area. In addition to government programs in the U.S. and Canada, there are plenty of other locally focused organizations that are offering help. Take a good look, and see what you’re eligible for.
And as always, rely on your circles for additional mental and emotional support during this time. There is never an easy time to be a small business owner, but especially now, we need to rely on each other. Best of luck to you all.
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Author: Kelly Samuel, Forbes Councils Member