Every year, dozens of thought leaders have presented their ideas on what success will look like for companies in the following year. No one could have predicted a global pandemic, unprecedented unemployment rates and a faltering economy.
In the middle of so much bleak news and global failure, is there success to be found? With the largest companies in the world faltering, what hope is there for small to mid-size businesses?
While business success in 2020 will be completely altered, there’s already a silver lining slowly emerging and providing some hints about the sort of shifts we will see through the remainder of this year.
Moving your small business, no matter what it is, fully online.
Back in 2018, research was released that showed many small businesses were not online. 60% of small businesses didn’t have a website, 35% of small business owners felt their business was too small, and 46% of small businesses had no web presence whatsoever.
The reality is that many small businesses were simply too busy with the running of the day-to-day to stop and take care of their web presence. Now that the global pandemic has stopped business in its tracks, there’s an understandable level of anxiety taking over. The biggest fear? “My business won’t translate to an online business.”
The first step is to take a deep breath and remember this truth: you are an entrepreneur. You already know how to start something from nothing. This is not the time to retreat, but to research and plan like you never have before and do it as quickly as possible.
Over the last few weeks, the team at InspireHUB has been performing Digital Rescues for small businesses who are facing this daunting new future, from a boutique winery who had never done online sales to a small bar where the locals know everybody’s name. The first order of business was figuring out “what” part of their business could go online, then building from that.
We wrote an entire article on how to get creative with your offering. This new way of doing business may look different than it currently does, and that’s okay. Innovation is defined as “a new method, idea, product, etc.”
Still not seeing it? If you’ve sold a product, you can definitely do it online and then deliver it to your customers. If you’ve sold a service, you can provide that consulting via video conference. Alternatively, you can start a spin-off around your expertise. Get creative!
Prioritizing cybersecurity and privacy for your customers and employees.
Moving your small business online is a big step, but it must be paired with making cybersecurity and privacy a priority. Dominic Vogel of Cyber.SC has described cybersecurity as an essential investment that helps to protect your brand, and he is right! Unfortunately, many of the world’s most popular digital platforms for small business also tend to be the least secure. Small businesses, in particular, are vulnerable. In fact, prior to the pandemic, research showed that 60% of small businesses close within six months of an attack. With more people than ever now online, there is even more opportunity for bad-faith actors to take advantage.
The companies that survive and ultimately thrive will understand they can’t just “build anything, anywhere” but need to protect what they build. Additionally, they will commit to creating a strong business culture that teaches every employee the basic principles of privacy and security.
At InspireHUB, for example, we have partnered with Cyber.SC as part of our commitment. We take it one step further by ensuring that every one of our clients receives security awareness training (at no charge) so they are able to keep EVERY area of their business strong. We believe that helping our employees and our clients understand the differences between security and privacy and how we all contribute to a stronger future, together, is the cost of doing business and is as foundational to future success as having a website.
Giving back as part of your business strategy.
In 2019, research showed that companies who had built the “give back” as part of their business yielded positive results to their bottom line. In late 2020, brands will emerge to a world that has completely shifted and must understand that, in addition to providing jobs to employees and products to customers, there will be an expectation of social obligation on our road to economic recovery.
Consider the following statistics for worthy-cause marketing or cause sponsorship:
- 73% of respondents believe that a company can take actions that both increase profits and improve conditions in communities where it operates Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer.
- 72% of Americans say they feel it is more important than ever that the companies they buy from reflect their values. 76% say supporting companies that are addressing social and environmental issues helps them feel they are doing their part. Nearly 9-in-10 consumers (86%) say they’re likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies. 2019 Porter Novelli/Cone Purpose Biometrics Study.
- 86% of consumers believe that companies should take a stand for social issues, and 64% of those who said it’s ‘extremely important’ for a company to take a stand on a social issue said they were ‘very likely’ to purchase a product based on that commitment. 2018 Shelton Group’s ‘Brands & Stands: Social Purpose is the New Black.‘
Discovering your brand's give-back strategy will be critical during this time. To create one that is successful, it cannot be inauthentic or manufactured but rooted in the people that make up your company.
For example, Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards & The Vine Restaurant is a boutique winery located in Ontario, Canada. One of their co-founders had a history in working with local hospitals on his journey to becoming a winery owner. His passion for giving back to local hospitals resulted in the creation of a “One-for-One” give-back campaign that donated a bottle of wine to frontline healthcare professionals for every bottle of wine purchased. The community continues to support and respond when they make the offer available.
At InspireHUB, we also had our early beginning in healthcare, as well as in schools, and working to ‘help good people do more good.’ As a 100% remote company for seven years, we made the decision to give back by donating our time to educating as many businesses as possible (at no charge) on how to move to leading and managing remote teams. We are continuing our give-back with free consulting to any business that needs help with brainstorming how to move their current business online, even if they do not use our technology.
Building an online community for your brand that you own.
“We are in this together.” It’s the refrain everyone is saying right now, and it’s also one that is important to your new online business. Even before the pandemic, online communities that are owned by the brand have been proven essential to growth. Brands who have been online for some time have learned that building an online community for themselves has huge benefits, included increased sales, decreased customer support costs, and driving web traffic.
Once you have a plan to transform your business to a digital one, you will want to select the appropriate online solutions to help. You’ll also want to choose your eCommerce solution (the technology you will use to sell your products online and collect payment.) and consider a platform that will allow you to build an online branded community that you own.
An online branded community that you own is different from the work that you may do through social networks owned by others. The power comes not only in being able to own your data but also to build meaningful relationships that last.
A final thought ...
If there is one thing this global pandemic is reminding us all about it is that we are “truly in this together”. In the end, what matters is our relationships with one another and our ability to rise to the occasion. Success in 2020 looks entirely different from here we started out in January. We now understand that it really is about looking out for one another and not just ourselves, whether that is finding new ways to connect and communicate, or protecting businesses from a digital virus or people from a physical one. Ultimately, it’s about our collective actions, our sense of community, our ability to support and serve one another through the tragedy unfolding around us. Yes, success looks different, and while we all find ourselves much more isolated than ever, the real success will be in understanding that it really is about doing life together, and that is definitely a silver lining that we can cling to during this time.
As the Coronavirus has spread around the world, businesses are requiring employees to work from home and grappling with the practical implications of suddenly needing to manage a distributed workforce.
InspireHUB is a 100% remote company and has been managing an international staff of digital nomads for over five years. As the creator of the IHUBApp Digital Experience Platform, we also have had agencies and clients use our platform to build employee hubs to help improve their connection and engagement.
From this unique vantage point, we decided to share the internal guidelines and tips that have helped us become high-performers and produce at the award-winning level with the hopes of you making the most of the situation. Read more now...
The global pandemic has left many small business owners uncertain of their future and grappling with the reality that almost overnight the commerce world as we know it has become almost exclusively an online model. For small businesses that rely on their retail and physical storefronts to produce revenue, this transformation can be daunting. It’s important to understand that if ever there was a time to move your business into the digital world, that time is now. The sooner, the better in fact. It won’t just help reduce the loss of revenue but will continue to serve you in the future.
We’ve got some practical ideas to help you quickly make the digital jump your business needs to survive. Our skilled team has helped clients achieve this in one week because of our experience. While you may not be able to move as fast, you can still get moving, and we hope this article will help to rescue many more businesses and jobs then what we can get to.