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As the coronavirus disease spreads its way throughout many parts of the globe, millions of small businesses have closed their doors to the public in order to comply with the CDC’s social distancing guidelines and local shelter-in-place orders. According to a recent poll, 24 percent of the approximately 30 million small businesses in America could permanently close their doors as a result of the pandemic—and about 11 percent will close within a month or less.
Whether your small business is at risk of closing its doors for good or you’re looking to make some positive changes that will help your business to survive and thrive during the pandemic, there are three steps you can take now to improve your chances of staying afloat during this challenging time. Read on to learn more.
1. Build a Mobile App or Upgrade Your Website
According to SmallBizDaily, mobile apps were valuable additions to small businesses well before the pandemic began—and they’re even more essential now. Not only will a mobile app put you ahead of the competition, but it’ll help your customers to connect with you throughout the coronavirus crisis, even if they can’t visit your physical location. If you own and operate a restaurant, for instance, your app could include features such as:
- Online ordering, delivery, and curbside pickup.
- A complete restaurant menu.
- A photo gallery of your menu items.
- Table reservations (for when you reopen).
If you don’t have an app developer on your team or can’t afford to hire new employees at this time, you could outsource a freelance developer to assist you. When outsourcing an iOS or Android developer through freelance job boards such as Upwork, you can find a professional whose skillset, salary expectations, and availability aligns with your own.
If your small business already has a mobile app, however, the pandemic could also be the perfect time to upgrade your website. You could either utilize free services such as GoDaddy Websites + Marketing or hire a freelance web developer to assist you with these upgrades.
2. Utilize Free Tools and Services
In addition to GoDaddy, other free tools and services are available to assist you in keeping your small business afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, even if you can’t afford to hire additional help. Whether you’re looking to video chat with your clients, collaborate with a team of remote employees, amp up your marketing efforts, or learn new skills that can help your small business to thrive and grow, the following services are free to use during the pandemic:
- Communications tools such as Zoom, Xfinity WiFi, Vidyard, and BirdEye
- Logistics software like Project44, FarEye, and Scoutbee
- Collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Hiver, and Smartsheet
- Marketing tools like Mailchimp, Hootsuite, and Affinity
When utilizing these tools and systems, note that some services are free to use for several months while others are free during a two-week trial period.
3. Move Your Business Online
If you haven’t already shifted your brick-and-mortar business to an online setting, now is the time to do it. To keep your small business afloat, you could create an online store that allows you to offer things like curbside pickup or options for local delivery, or you could sell digital gift cards that can be purchased from you now and redeemed at any point in the future. Plus, the e-commerce platform known as Shopify is offering a free 90-day trial to new customers—complete with step-by-step instructions for getting your brick-and-mortar online without the need to hire a developer to assist you. Once your e-commerce site is set up, you can even add a sign to your physical storefront that directs customers to your online store.
The COVID-19 crisis is a devastating time for small businesses around the globe, but these tips can help you to stay afloat during the pandemic and come back even stronger in the end. By building a mobile app, utilizing the many free services and tools that are available, and creating an e-commerce site for your brick-and-mortar store, your small business can survive the pandemic and also thrive and grow.