Overcoming Small Business Challenges Post-Pandemic
How To Tackle Common Post-Pandemic Small Business Challenges And Thrive
Over the past year and a half, entrepreneurs and business owners have faced many small business challenges that they may never have anticipated. Even as restrictions around the United States ease, many of these businesses are not out of the woods—yet.
Although small businesses are the heart blood of the economy, and many continue to face challenges due to the pandemic. A recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank found that 3 out of 10 small businesses in the U.S. say they likely won’t survive 2021 without additional government assistance.
For expert advice on handling small business challenges in a post-pandemic world, we brought together five organizations dedicated to helping them survive and thrive in the face of challenging economic situations. During a #BizHackLive panel, they engaged in a fast-paced discussion about what strategies and approaches small businesses are using to adapt after COVID-19. Our panelists included:
- Ascendus: Fabiana Estrada, director of lending SE
- The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at FIU: Brian Van Hook, regional director
- Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Miami-Dade College: Pamela Fuertes, executive director
- The Idea Center at Miami Dade College: Gustavo Grande, director of programs
- Miami Bayside Foundation: Michael S. Sellinger, director of loan programs
Keep reading to learn more about the insights they shared.
TL;DR: 3 Tips for Overcoming Small Business Challenges
By addressing many of the small business challenges arising from the pandemic, resilient entrepreneurs, founders and owners survived and thrived in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Here are three ways they adapted and stayed agile, according to our expert panelists from five organizations dedicated to helping small businesses.
- From Zoom to delivery apps, using the power of the screen helped many small businesses address the challenges resulting from COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. In the future, training for new technology will continue to allow businesses to run smoothly and support future growth.
- Connecting with the community helped many small businesses continue to operate throughout the pandemic. Now, building authentic relationships is more essential than ever as people crave in-real-life human connections.
- When the pandemic hit, so did many unprecedented small business challenges. Small business owners pivoted their business strategy to stay alive. These rapid adjustments will be part of future strategies to stay ahead of future challenges and remain resilient.
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Here are some of the most common small business challenges our experts saw during the pandemic, and they witnessed small businesses survive and thrive.
Top Small Business Challenges and Solutions During COVID-19
Quickly pivoting the business strategy
When the pandemic hit, so did many unprecedented small business challenges. Small business owners pivoted their business strategy to stay alive.
“When change happens to you as a small business, you take it personally,” said Michael S. Sellinger, director of loan programs at Miami Bayside Foundation, during the #BizHackLive panel discussion. “But, I think in this environment when everyone was being affected people didn’t take the change as personally, and therefore they were more willing to pivot. I felt the pivots were much more aggressive, more timely, and getting done.”
Handling HR issues
The three areas of technical assistance that we here at BizHack tended to see small businesses needed most during COVID-19 were human relations, marketing, and access to capital and financials.
“They needed to deal with a lot of HR issues related to the pandemic in terms of staffing down,” said Brian Van Hook, regional director of Florida SBDC at Florida International University.
Securing financial readiness
Safety restrictions forced many small businesses to close for months at a time during the beginning of the pandemic. To survive, they needed working capital. However, financial readiness and access to capital are intertwined. Many small businesses seemed to lack the knowledge necessary to complete many of the application processes required to receive financial help.
“A good chunk of the businesses we saw didn’t even have a business tax receipt (BTR),” Sellinger said.
Leveraging new technology
The pandemic made the digital space for small businesses more relevant than ever. Worldwide lockdowns sent many people to their screens, which presented new small business challenges and opportunities. To survive and position themselves for growth, small business owners needed to think digitally.
“Companies, even restaurants, needed to understand the importance of data, how they are managing the cost of their operations, and where their business is coming from,” said Gustavo Grande, director of programs at The Idea Center at Miami-Dade College.
Now, small businesses are training their teams in technologies that were not considered essential before the pandemic. These new tools will allow them to continue operating smoothly and support the future growth of the business.
Finding new marketing channels
As typical market channels such as trade shows, conferences, in-person sales shut down due to the pandemic, many small businesses turned to technology to communicate with their ideal customers. By moving their efforts online, these businesses shifted their efforts, and some saw success as a result.
“The embrace of technology and the investment that comes with that has been obvious to small businesses across the board,” said Pamela Fuertes, executive director of The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Miami-Dade College.
The pandemic called for businesses to adapt and think creatively to solve small business challenges. This is an opportunity for small businesses to reassess how they engage and negotiate sales.
Keeping in-person services safe
While some small business challenges could be addressed by moving operations online, many professional service organizations, such as dentists, stylists, and others, did not have that option. As a result, another group of small businesses, such as industrial cleaning services and HVAC installers, could survive the challenge and help others do the same.
“There is an opportunity,” said Fabiana Estrada, director of lending at Ascendus. “Our network is always very important as well. So, if we educate our customers as a business owner, we can be very sure that we are going to improve our numbers, our cash flow, and our clientele.”
Expert Advice On Overcoming Small Business Challenges
While many industries faced various challenges when the pandemic hit, some businesses took this as an opportunity to find a new way to thrive and grow.
Here is the advice our panelists would give a small business owner dealing with multiple small business challenges.
Brian Van Hook, regional director of Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at FIU
“Understanding your financial situation. The biggest thing we stress in terms of business continuity, preparation, and recovery is to focus on the three immediate things that you need to do, work down that actionable list, then come up with three additional things.”
Fabiana Estrada, director of lending at Ascendus
“I would invest in marketing. The first thing we are doing when we know the name of a business is we Google the business, we try to get information.
Gustavo Grande, director of programs at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College
“First, speak to your partners. “Not necessarily your business partners, but your family. Let them know what the current situation is right now to develop a level of support and empathy. Then, speak with the team to see what you can do right now.”
Michael S. Sellinger, director of loan programs at Miami Bayside Foundation
“I think the first thing to do is to assess what the worst-case scenario is. Once you know what the worst-case scenario is, then you stop stressing and worrying about everything, and you can focus on your business.”
Pamela Fuertes, executive director of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Miami-Dade College
“I would help the individual focus on the big picture as much as possible. I would help them understand what options there are because there always are options, and I would try to be a point of neutral support that they might not have in their space. Sometimes speaking to someone who is not part of your business but understands the needs of your business is important so that you have an outside perspective.
From Small Business Challenges To Building Connection
As our communities come out of the depths of the pandemic, there is a new sense of heightened intention, conscientiousness, and creativity among many entrepreneurs and founders. After facing many small business challenges, they have come through to the other side and found strength in new connections.
At BizHack, we focus on three C’s when developing our curriculum: content, coaching, and community. In many ways, we believe that the community pillar is more essential than ever. When we can take our human-to-human connection and spread it to more people in a more scalable and systematic way, we are doing digital marketing. And that approach is what will help small businesses recover from this challenge and sustain themselves in the face of future ones.
Want to learn more about our next digital marketing certification cohort? Join BizHack Academy for our FREE Webinars and hear experts discuss the latest and best small business marketing strategies. For a list of upcoming events, click here.