9 Tips for Expanding Your Small Business
Admittedly, many small businesses are, at best, in a holding pattern as the economic repercussions of COVID-19 play out. For small businesses able to continue operations by working from home, revenue remains uncertain as customers have slowed purchase amounts and cycles. For others, operations are shut down altogether, and owners and employees have been left wondering if they can last until the pandemic lifts.
Small Businesses Face the COVID-19 Economy
Regardless of the circumstances facing small businesses during this very difficult time, all small businesses should be rethinking their strategies coming out of the shelter-in-place restrictions. Having the right business strategy in place has probably never been more important—at least in the past 80 years since the Great Depression.
Until the economy began its steep decline as the reality of COVID-19 began to be realized at the end of February, small businesses were quite optimistic. Indeed, less than 40 days ago, the NFID Research Foundation that studies small business economic trends found that optimism among small businesses remained high—residing in the top 10th percentile over the 46 years the organization has gauged small business health. NFIB Chief Economist William Dunkelberg noted before the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., “The small business economic expansion continued its historic run in February, as owners remained focused on growing their businesses in this supportive tax and regulatory environment. February was another historically strong month for the small business economy.”
Expanding Your Small Business
No one really knows what the economic recovery—or decline—will resemble as we come out of shelter-in-place mandates. What we do know is that every business needs to be poised to hit the ground running. Even during a pandemic, it’s good to keep expanding your small business. Following are some tips that small businesses can embrace to expand their business.
Securing your stimulus aid
The economic COVID-19 stimulus package the U.S. Congress passed makes significant aid available to small businesses. Its provisions are significant, and small businesses need to know their options. Some of the primary federal, state, and lender-specific areas of coverage include:
- Paycheck protection loans. The U.S. Small Business Administration guarantee loans with terms up to 10 years and interest rates up to 4 percent to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Businesses are eligible for loans up to $10 million through lenders, including banks and credit unions. Loan deferment is available for six months to a year—and the loan may be forgiven if a business maintains its payroll for eight weeks at normal employee salary levels.
- Economic injury disaster loans. The Small Business Administration provides working capital loans up to $2 million to small businesses and nonprofits affected by COVID-19. These economic injury disaster loans come with an interest rate of 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofits. Applicants do not need to provide a personal guarantee on loans under $200,000, and payments can be deferred up to four years.
- Emergency grants of $10,000. For small businesses denied loans, they can assess emergency grants of $10,000 to be used for employee sick leave, maintain payroll, and meet other needs like paying rent.
Hone Your Web Home Page
Digital impressions count if you’re a small business, and it typically starts with the home page of your website. Selling products and services to visitors happens only a fraction of the time, with 96 percent of visitors not ready to make a purchase. Small businesses need to ensure that their home page is easy to navigate and tells a compelling narrative that includes distinct call to action—from booking a demo, to content download, to a request for a meeting. For those with the time to do so, you can set up the homepage with A/B testing and keyword optimization to determine what calls to action and navigation work best.
Ramp Up Your Social Media
An unwavering focus on social media can generate buzz and brand awareness for a small business—from company services and products, to new content, to upcoming events, to calls to action. But it requires a focused strategy and consistent posts and engagement.
Digitally Engage with Prospects and Customers
Customers and prospects expect to be given multiple engagement options. This requires businesses to develop omnichannel engagement strategies—for both support and sales. While traditional phone and email channels aren’t going away anytime soon, other channels such as live web chat and text are preferred in many instances by customers and prospects. While small businesses typically do not have the resources to manage all of these channels themselves, they can turn to on-demand services such as Davinci Live Web Chat Services to do so.
Use analytics to measure results
Analytics—from website visitors to leads generated—are important measurements that small businesses need to use to determine what is working and what isn’t such as bounce rates, page visits, average time on the site, and how the audience got to your website. The good news is that there are freemium analytics tools such as Google Analytics and Unbounce.
Leverage virtual receptionists
Hiring a full-time receptionist is expensive, and normally beyond what small businesses can afford. Yet, virtual receptionists such as Davinci Live Receptionists offer small businesses a flexible, scalable, and cost-effective model. Live receptionists can answer calls when small business owners aren’t available to answer calls, respond to emails and texts, manage calendars, book meetings, and more.
Use virtual office addresses
Small businesses are increasingly turning from permanent office locations for virtual office addresses. Virtual office addresses like Davinci Virtual Office Services are a great option. They are in professional locations that come with services such as mail receipt and forwarding, a lobby directory listing, entity formation services, and more. In addition to lowering costs and enabling small businesses to avoid getting locked into long-term leases, virtual office addresses allow small businesses to quickly, easily, and inexpensively expand into new locations.
Leverage coworking space and day offices
Without permanent office locations, small businesses can leverage coworking space and data offices at a fraction of the cost of permanent office space. Coworking space and rented day offices like Davinci Meeting Rooms afford small businesses with the flexibility to seamlessly scale up and down. They also gain collaborative and networking opportunities with other businesses in the coworking space or rented office location.
Book professional meeting space
Once COVID-19 passes, many small businesses will be ready to book face-to-face meetings with prospects, customers, and employees. Hotel conference rooms are expensive and don’t always come with the presentation and collaboration tools needed for a productive meeting. In addition, they can be expensive—twice as much rented conference rooms like Davinci Meeting Rooms. Coffee shops are typically terrible places for meetings; they lack privacy and are noisy.
The list could certainly be extended beyond the above, but these are a good starting point. No one really knows how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last and the severity of the economic downturn.
Businesses that prepare to hit the ground running as soon as the shelter-in-place mandates are lifted and businesses reopen put themselves in a much greater likelihood of succeeding than those businesses that fail to plan ahead. Davinci Virtual offers a variety of different services that can benefit small businesses, and now is a good time to explore how those can help your business prepare to flourish in what is hopefully the very near future.