Everyone wants to go back to normal; the vast majority of small business owners want to go back to the way we used to do things. Normal gatherings, foot traffic as a metric, face-to-face communication for closing deals, so and on and so forth. Relying on the old methodologies and the old metrics as the baseline going forward through and beyond 2021, however, would be a grave mistake for small business owners. As much as we may despise “the new normal” and what comes with it, there are a quite a few components that we, as small business owners, cannot ignore.
For example, two key consumer expenditure increases in 2020 pertain to home offices and bathroom renovations, with each increasing 75% and 80%, respectively (Sundaram, 2021). This indicates a significant change in consumer behavior; the consumer now spends significantly more time at the home office rather the traditional office. One key area this impacts is the foot traffic metric – consumers will continue to spend less time physically walking in front of small businesses or even driving by billboards. Given this shift, what will you, as a small business owner, do to ensure you stay in front of your prospects and customers?
In addition, many businesses on Yelp changed the way they communicate with their customers. More specifically, based upon data on Yelp, 1,500,000 business updated their hours, 500,000 offered virtual services, and 450,000 created custom, digital messaging systems to communicate directly with their customers (Sundaram, 2021). What does this mean to the small business owner? Your competition is going virtual and it gives them an additional avenue to communicate with your prospective buyers. Given all of the data in digitization, this strongly indicates that the small business owner should adopt digitization if they have not already done so.
As much as we may despise the term “the new normal,” small businesses must recognize that consumer behaviors have changed. Relying solely on the old and traditional ways of doing business is insufficient; small businesses must do more. Small businesses must make the effort meet their prospective buyers where they are and serve them in such a way that the consumer feels comfortable and at ease. Yes, it is something new for many business owners, but it is necessary not only for revenue growth but also for survival.
With all of this being said, what does the small business need to do? What does this look like in practice? Oversimplifying, the small business owner needs to ask themselves two questions:
- What can I do to reach and communicate with my prospects and customers digitally?
- What can I do to serve my customers and deliver my product/service digitally?
Asking these two questions and diving into the details will help direct you and your organization where you need to go. If you need any assistance in this arena, please reach out to us for help; we exist to serve and support the small business community!
John M. Beaman
President, The McGraw Council Membership, Inc.
Sundaram, A. (2021). Yelp data shows almost half a million new businesses opened during the pandemic. CNBC. Cnbc.com. Retrieved from Yelp data shows almost half a million new businesses opened during the pandemic (cnbc.com)