CNBC reports that 60% of businesses that shut their doors during the pandemic will remain closed. Even companies that were allowed to remain open have struggled to retain customers and grow their businesses. However, some owners have found surprising ways to not just save their businesses but reach new customers. Are you ready to try these solutions?
1. Invest in Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence cannot replace human intelligence. Instead, it helps to automate tedious tasks, so your workers can focus on more creative processes. Use artificial intelligence to expand operations without needing to hire more people.
Artificial intelligence also provides better opportunities for you to collect and use data. Machine learning plays an integral role, because it provides the support system that businesses need to scale operations with relative ease. These are some of the many areas business owners deploy machine learning systems, such as MLOps:
Supply chain management
Cash flow management
2. Take Advantage of Disaster Relief Programs
Governments around the world passed several disaster relief programs for businesses to take advantage of. Ideally, your business applied for and received some of these benefits. If your business is eligible to have any of this capital forgiven, take the time to follow the necessary procedures.
There are also disaster relief programs provided by private organizations. Some of these came from charities, but large companies also offered assistance. Check with local organizations to see if you are eligible for these. You should also confirm with your bank and any payment processing services you use.
If you are a woman or minority-business owner, check for special programs that only you can qualify for. For instance, PayPal launched a program to provide funding to Black business owners.
3. Find Ways To Go Virtual
Some business models require contact, but there are likely some opportunities for taking processes online. For example, the healthcare field encourages as many people as possible to turn to telehealth services for initial diagnosis. From there, medical professionals can determine if individuals need to see a professional in-person.
Travel brands have also launched virtual tours of their spaces, such as local parks and even museums. Even the movie industry has had to rethink the release of movies at cinemas and musicians are streaming performances online. Meanwhile, outdoor movie theaters and parking lot amphitheaters are becoming popular again.
No matter what kind of business you have, there are probably some initial steps that you can do remotely. Get creative, test it thoroughly and then launch your new idea.
4. Grassroots Marketing
Grassroots marketing requires finding your niche and building a relationship. Instead of big campaigns, you focus on this smaller group and invest in lasting relationships. This group then ropes in new people into the fold and the trend continues.
Grassroots marketing is cheaper than most other methods, which saves your business money. The focus on building relationships also increases the likelihood of attracting loyal customers instead of one-off buyers. This, too, can reduce how much of your company resources you need to spend on active marketing.
In a global reality that requires social distancing, you might wonder how to find your niche and market at the grassroots level. Easy: start online. Instead of focusing on building a large following, work on being social on social media. Building a community takes time, but the results are worth it.
5. Consider Expanding Into New Areas
As the economy changes and society develops, some businesses become obsolete. This is true whether we have a pandemic or not. Medical professionals and scientists believe that, even with a vaccine, things will not return to normal in 2021. If this is true, companies most affected by the pandemic need to start looking into more long-term solutions.
An excellent example of this is Airbnb. Airbnb took a big hit and so did the hosts on the platform. The company took some time to regroup and then returned with a new solution. It started to encourage hosts to provide accommodations for frontline workers in the pandemic. As more and more people continued to lose their homes, the platform also pushed incentives for long-term stays.
Can you make similar pivots to keep your business relevant and grow into a new market? You might be surprised at what you come up with if you give it some serious thought.
This pandemic created economic declines that the world has not seen since the Great Depression rocked the American economy in the 1930s. With some creativity, government support and a little bit of luck, businesses can keep their doors open and move toward the better days ahead.