While we once hoped COVID-19 was a short-term blip, it’s been impacting lives across the globe more than a year now. Consequently, for many small businesses, the last 12 months have been a whirlwind. From essential businesses that have seen demand increase to those that have been forced to close their doors, every company has had to do things a little differently. While the pandemic has undoubtedly been a struggle for many of us, it has also taught us many important lessons. Small business owners have been thrown in at the deep end over the last 12 months, and it has been unexpected, but an often valuable learning experience. We’re sharing the top 10 lessons that small businesses have learned during COVID-19.
1. Be Adaptable And Ready For Anything
Even businesses with strong contingency plans in place were not prepared for the total shut down that many businesses experienced. No one could have properly planned for a worldwide pandemic. However, the businesses that quickly adapted to the new circumstances performed much better than those that couldn’t. Small businesses have learnt the hard way that is essential to stay nimble, reactive, and adapt quickly to changing situations.
2. Optimise Workflows And Processes
Many businesses were left in the lurch when the pandemic first hit. This was because they were reliant on paper to-do lists, complicated spreadsheets and lengthy email chains. When teams were suddenly forced to work from home, many struggled with their business processes and workflows. Optimizing these processes and utilizing technology such as Flowmingo, has helped many small businesses stay organized, no matter where their teams are working from.
3. Data Security Is Vital
Every small business knows that keeping customer and employee data safe is crucial. However, when workforces moved to home working, data security was a real concern for many organizations. Laptops and devices that were previously always safe in the office and connected to secure networks were suddenly traveling many miles, across the country and beyond. Cybersecurity was something that many small businesses had to quickly prioritize. Consequently, a significant business lesson from the pandemic is how to ensure data security for a remote workforce.
4. Websites Are A Must-Have
It is surprising how many small businesses still didn’t have a website pre-COVID. As many businesses shut their doors, their online presence became their only source of income. Retail switched from in-store sales to online shopping, and restaurants were scrambling to be able to offer takeaway services quickly. For B2B, who were used to field sales and in-person interactions, moving to digital sales strategies became essential. For a small business, a website and online presence are not just nice-to-have; they are essential.
5. Prioritise Marketing
A lot of businesses that saw a drop in revenue were forced to cut down on their non-essential spending. For some, this included their marketing spend. But in reality, your marketing budget is a certain essential, because it is what drives your sales. Marketing takes time, and if you ease your marketing when things are slow, it can cause real problems when things begin to pick up again.
6. Employees Can Work Remotely, And Successfully
Many small businesses were hesitant to allow employees to work from home before the pandemic. COVID-19 forced these companies to adapt to a remote working model, and for many, it has been very effective. Employers were worried about productivity levels and staff management, but home working has been an unexpected success for many small businesses. A lot of organizations are continuing with the trend, allowing employees to work from home permanently.
7. Prepare For The Worst
One of the most critical lessons COVID-19 has taught small businesses is to always prepare for the worst. Having savings in place as part of a rainy-day fund is crucial. Getting into the habit of setting aside a percentage of profits every month can protect your small business from future hardship.
8. Encourage Sick Days
For years we have lived in a culture where taking a day off work sick is frowned upon. Small businesses often make it difficult for employees to take time off sick, and COVID-19 has really put the importance of sick days into focus. Pre-COVID, thousands of workers would come into the office even when they are unwell because it was expected of them. COVID-19 has taught us that it can be very dangerous for workers to come in when unwell, and small businesses should encourage staff to prioritise their health (and the health of others) and stay at home.
9. Communication Is Key
Many companies suddenly realised their communication methods were lacking when COVID-19 first hit. Whether you need to quickly contact all employees or reach out to your customers, having reliable communication methods in place is of the utmost importance.
10. Be Innovative And Creative
Businesses of all shapes and sizes were forced to come up with creative ideas in order to stay afloat over the past 12 months. Small companies that were forced to close have come up with new ways of bringing in revenue, whether that be a takeaway or delivery service or something new entirely. Innovation and creativity are essential for small businesses to handle unexpected situations.
Create the system that allows your business to keep sailing with Flowmingo’s workflow solutions. Ideal for remote working, our cloud-based workflow system helps you facilitate team collaboration and ensure maximum efficiency for every eventuality, whether you need to pivot quickly or adapt your current processes to be in line with current events.