Successfully running a small business is a difficult endeavor under any circumstances. But there may never have been a year as challenging as 2020. However, among all the bad news came glimmers of positivity: small businesses that were staying afloat, or even thriving, despite the circumstances.
What helped those businesses succeed in 2020, and what lessons can we take away from it moving forward? We’ll take a look at what we can learn from this past year, and how small businesses help keep their communities strong and vibrant.
Perhaps the number one factor that contributed to success in 2020 was the ability to adapt. With the huge changes that COVID-19 demanded of consumers’ lifestyles and purchasing habits, and the ever-shifting set of rules and regulations, the only way to stay afloat was to take each new wave of changes in stride.
Luckily, this is something that many small businesses are uniquely positioned to do. Smaller organizations may lack the large warchests that can help big corporations weather tough times, but what they do have is the ability to quickly pivot and tweak their business models as the times require. The ability to be nimble and chase after new revenue streams — paired with the creativity and can-do attitude that drives people to become entrepreneurs in the first place — helped many small businesses survive the worst of the pandemic.
Versatility was also required in the ways that businesses reached their customers. Many businesses that could formerly rely on walk-ins had to begin advertising online or using direct mail campaigns, flyers, or door hangers (all of which were especially effective during a time when people spent much more time than usual in their homes). Businesses also found a need to communicate their sanitation and social distancing practices using signs and posters to ensure that customers felt safe.
Small business owners tend to have close relationships with their customers, and a unique perspective on what their clientele need and want. That means that they can skip the focus groups, and simply adjust their business practices to meet people’s needs.
Local entrepreneurs were able to take the feedback of their customers and adjust in many ways — offering curbside pickup, creating e-commerce platforms, or providing new versions of their products and services (such as meal kits from restaurants). They were also able to apply their knowledge of their communities to provide their services when and how they were needed most under the circumstances of COVID — like food trucks that moved from their typical downtown or office park locations, to instead offer warm meals to frontline health care workers outside of medical centers.
Local businesses have a mutually beneficial relationship with their communities. Businesses rely on the patronage of their neighbors. In turn, they benefit the local economy by keeping money spent within the community. They often donate money to support local events, sports teams, or improvement projects, and they help keep their neighborhoods vibrant and interesting.
Recognizing the value that local businesses provide, consumers this year banded together and vowed to support their small businesses. People sought out local pharmacies, restaurants, and boutique shops over nationwide chains. They purchased Christmas gifts directly from local artisans, visited local butchers over buying their meats at the grocery store, and ordered endless amounts of takeout. Clearly, community goodwill is highly valuable to small businesses — and something all business owners should continue to cultivate for success as we move beyond the days of COVID-19.
Hopefully, we will soon be putting the pandemic behind us, although it may be a bumpy road to recovery. But in good economic times and bad, the lessons we learned from 2020 will always apply: stay versatile, build close relationships with customers, and cultivate community support.
Having a close printing and marketing partner like PostNet is also invaluable in spreading the word about all your new initiatives and promotions. Stop by your local PostNet center today to get started on creating banners, postcards, direct mail campaigns, and any other business and marketing essentials you need to succeed.