How to overcome 6 small business challenges during COVID-19

Small businesses are some of the most highly impacted since the COVID-19 outbreak and are facing a number of challenges.  

Last month, in partnership with Small Business Roundtable, Facebook came out with a report on the State of Small Business after surveying approximately 86,000 people that own, manage or work for a small to medium-sized business. 

To support you on your business journey, we’ve compiled the six challenges detailed in the report and what you can be doing right now to overcome them. 

Unprecedented times and unavoidable closing of businesses

Countless businesses are struggling to stay open right now, especially those in the tourism and hospitality sector. According to the survey, “31% of owners and managers reported that their business is not currently operating.” When we only look at personal businesses though, “that number rises to 52%, to which hotels, cafes and restaurants make up 45%.”

One of the biggest trends that broke out since COVID-19 is to buy local. People are wanting to spend their money locally, knowing they’ll make a direct contribution and difference to that business. So make sure you are telling your brand story across your digital and social platforms – your audience will feel invested in you and your brand. Ensure you reach the right people by tagging your geographical location. 

Financial strains and seeking support

“28% of businesses said the biggest challenge they would face over the next few months was cash flow and 20% said their biggest challenge would be lack of demand” (sic). 

Knowing your numbers is more important than ever. Understand exactly what you need to make ends meet, cover your overheads and make sure you’re not going backwards. 

Make use of the Job Keeper payment offering, ask your accountant what local government funds and grants you might be eligible for and speak to your commercial property manager about finance options. 

Re-think ways of working

According to the report,  51% of businesses reported increased online interactions with their clients, and 35% of companies changed operations to expand the use of digital payments.

Changing how you operate to ensure you and your staff can continue to work is key. Conduct more business online and quickly adapt to either tightening or easing of restrictions to keep sales flowing. Connect with your online audience by utilising the latest social media platform tools such as Instagram Story stickers – support small business, food orders or gift cards. 

Balance of work and home life

It’s not surprising that nearly half (47%) of business owners and managers had reported feeling burned out, struggling to balance responsibilities for both work and home life.

Approximately one to four hours a day is spent on “domestic or household activities”, according to 62% of those reported. A higher percentage of women (33%) owner-managers, compared to men (25%) recorded that “household responsibilities were affecting their ability to focus on work “a great deal” or “a lot”.” 

The balance between work and home life is always just that, a balance. It’s not always going to perfect, and there are going to be some stages where it is harder for reasons outside our control. A pandemic is one of those times.

We’ve compiled a couple of tips to support you in finding the right work/home life ‘balance’ for you:

  1. Build on existing support networks with family and friends to help juggle key home responsibilities. It’s never easy to ask for help, but managing a family and work-life does take a village. It’s okay to put your hand up and ask for a break-even if it’s just for an hour so you can do one of the things listed in our fourth tip. 
  2. Shakeup work-life and alleviate stress through fun initiatives such as online work drinks or themed Friday meetings. Here at #SMPerth we love having a fun lunch once a month to chat about life and not work; whether it be online or in-person, it’s more important than ever to keep the fun where we can. 
  3. Don’t forget to laugh, it’s the quickest way to lighten up the mood. The best advice is to remember it’s PR, not ER. It’s very easy to get wound up and stressed by what’s going on around you. Give yourself permission to forget about it for a minute and have a deep belly laugh over something hilarious – funny dog videos are always good for this! 
  4. Make time for you. Have a bath, book in for a massage or get your hair done. Give yourself time to breathe for a minute and ground yourself. You’ll come back with a fresh mind and be a lot more productive.

Looking after your stakeholders

Employees are your most significant stakeholders, and many are facing heavily-reduced hours or the loss of their job. Burnout and heightened sensitivity are more paramount now in PR and marketing than ever before. It’s incredibly hard to know the right thing to say, especially when there is so much more public pressure and scrutiny. Reputations built over decades can be destroyed in an hour, maybe less. 

Check-in with your team weekly, daily if it’s needed. Have open and honest conversations about the pressure and any sensitive areas.

Coming together as a group regularly can alleviate heightened stress and create a stronger bond with the team. It also gives your team time to talk through sensitive situations before they become an issue. 

Keeping positive in times of uncertainty

Probably the most comforting stat to come out of the Facebook report was to see “57% of small to medium size businesses reported they’re optimistic or extremely optimistic regarding the future of their businesses and only 11% of businesses expect to fail in the next three months, should current conditions persist.”

Our ability and strength to overcome the challenges we face as humans, is truly incredible. Understanding your limitations, adapting and continuing is the most resilient thing any of us can do.

Remember nothing lasts forever, and albeit, it may take a while, this too shall pass. 

Did any of these business challenges resonate with you? Tell us in the comments section below. 

If you’re rethinking the way you do your business online, we have the resources to help; check out our upcoming workshops or our on-demand training webinars.