When the news is mostly negative, it’s easy to forget there might be silver linings for small businesses in B.C. during COVID-19. Depending on your industry, there could be some opportunities worth exploring—not only in the short-term as you restart operations, but also in anticipation of a longer-lasting “new normal.” Here are five to consider:
Focus on Local
COVID-19 is an unmissable opportunity to turn casual local customers into lifelong ones. We are all spending more time in our communities and neighbourhoods, and many people are realizing just how important local businesses are to communities and cities. Now’s the time to connect with them.
Let local people know you are open for business. Put in place a buy local marketing campaign or contribute to other organizations in your community that are working together to make a difference. Take the time to contribute in a meaningful way, and your community will return the favour.
Improve Your Website
While Amazon has seen sales go through the roof during COVID-19, you don’t need to be an ecommerce giant to take advantage of the upsurge in online shopping. A platform like Shopify lets businesses quickly set up an online arm to sell products and services. For example, Vancouver marketing agency, Major Tom, set up an ecommerce site to sell specific services.
Even if your business model isn’t suited to online sales, this could the perfect time to make your website better, including:
- Reviewing your content to ensure it reflects changing needs
- Updating your website to let people know about changes to your business due to COVID-19
- Posting details of your COVID-19 Safety Plan
- Setting up an email newsletter to keep in touch with customers
- Ensuring your site is optimized for search so people can find you online
Gain a Competitive Advantage
Many consumers are judging businesses—large and small—by how they respond to this crisis. Among larger businesses, London Drugs gained positive headlines from selling Girl Guide cookies and giving up shelf space to local businesses, while Loblaws and other companies gained kudos for quickly raising workers’ wages. Consider how you can stand out, including:
- Becoming an active part of your local community
- Effectively communicating your Safety Plan
- Making your customers feel safe
- Making it easy to buy your services or products
- Delivering excellent customer service
Make Your Business More Efficient
Almost overnight, businesses have had to do everything from launch online services to adapt to a remote-only workforce. As the B.C. economy starts to carefully open up, it’s a chance to take a step back, reflect on what has changed, and look for ways to permanently improve aspects of your business operations.
For example, can your takeout service be more seamlessly integrated into your business permanently? Could adopting remote working after COVID-19 save you money on office space? What tools have you found that could help you create efficiencies and be more productive, such as online communication and project management tools, ecommerce platforms, and appointment-booking services?
Capitalize on New Ideas
There are many examples of businesses pivoting during COVID-19 because they had to. Now is a good time to look to the future for long-term business opportunities in the “new normal.” Start by considering these three questions:
- What new problems do people face?
- What new wants and needs do they have?
- How can your business solve these problems and meet these needs?
Start by focusing on your existing target market and think about how their needs and buying behaviour might have changed. Opportunities are out there if you are able to spend some time looking for them.
Here to Help
At Small Business BC, we’ve got the resources and supports you need for your business to succeed. This November, we’re offering all webinars and Talk to an Expert Advisory sessions for FREE.
Join us on November 18th for Build. Grow. Thrive. a FREE day of education, networking and fun designed to help your business build resiliency in the face of COVID-19.
Want to grow your customer base? Add your business to our BC Marketplace and tap into a province-wide audience looking to shop local and support small businesses like yours.
At Small Business BC, we’re committed to helping business owners reopen in a safe and successful way. Our Back to Business campaign features specific advice and guidance in the following areas:
- Operational Health & Safety
- Restart Strategy
- Marketing & Communications
Alternatively, visit our BC Business COVID-19 Support Service and connect with our Business Advisors to get answers to your specific questions on reopening.