Survival skills for small town businesses in the Coronavirus era
By Chris Brogan
As the world starts to ask what’s going to happen when this pandemic is finally over and we can look at what it will take to jumpstart the economy again, one venture capitalist says we have to save Main Street and not bail out banks and hedge funds. Chamath Palihapitiya said in a CNBC interview that the way back requires a different perspective.
“On Main Street today, people are getting wiped out. And right now, rich CEOs are not, boards that had horrible governance are not, hedge funds are not. People are.”
You know that we spend no time here at Small Biz Survival pointing fingers or laying blame, and we’ve been here with you for years helping rural and small town businesses navigate the world, and that’s why this interview might prove interesting to you. It’s an important voice telling the nation that your business is who needs the help.
Don’t Wait for Handouts
As with all things, anything the government intends to do to help your business won’t come quickly enough for most people. It’s your job to rebuild and get your business back to thriving. Don’t wait for the handouts at all, but when they come available, don’t let your pride get in the way of filling out a few forms to get some “wiggle room” on the way to your recovery. You’ve worked hard and deserve that money more than the usual people who get bailed out.
Get to the Core Business
Over the years, maybe you’ve added and added and added to your business. Coming out of this pandemic might be a time where people will want the core of what you do more than anything else. Everyone is dealing with information overload, choice fatigue, and overall world-weary feelings. Make everything easier by offering your core service. If you do people’s taxes, offer your tax time services and monthly/quarterly bookkeeping. That’s it. Don’t get all that heavy into the other offers. Look at what makes your business important and strengthen that, keep the the “extras” and choices to a minimum.
Upgrade Your Payment Methods Now
Make it easier to accept payment from different sources, such as PayPal, Venmo, CashApp. As people struggle to make ends meet, smaller and faster money transfer technologies are used more. It’s worth your time to get your ability to be paid in multiple ways up and running faster than not. Never forget that YouTube has plenty of free videos to walk you through the setup and use of any new app you don’t yet understand. It’s a lot easier than you think (with a little guidance).
When times are tough, we tend to clam up and go inside. We don’t want other people to know we’re going through a bad spot. And it’s fine not to highlight that too loudly, but rest assured. The entire world is in this with you this time. Everyone out there is missing a payment here and there. People are digging into their life savings more often than they want. You’re not alone.
Reach out to your buyers. If someone hasn’t been in lately and you know how to reach them, do it. Ask if you can help. Offer different arrangements, if possible and if that helps. Don’t cut your prices. Everyone has to eat. You’re not a charity (unless you are). But connect with people and make sure they know you’re here to help. Send mail if you have their email address. Call if you’ve got a number. Keep your customer base warm.
We’ve said it all along. Small town businesses and rural companies are the backbone of what makes this nation run. Don’t wait for the cavalry. You’re the one who will save your business and you’re the one who will put this country back on its feet. Go get it.
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