Getting With the Digital Program: A Guide for Small Businesses During the Pandemic
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Many online companies have experienced a notable uptick in business due to the pandemic. At the same time, other companies have had to scramble to catch up and transition rapidly to digital models to satisfy customer demand — and sometimes, even just to survive. This has posed a serious challenge for company owners who aren’t yet comfortable navigating an online economy.
For entrepreneurs trying to figure out how to make products and services available online without excessive loss of time and money, eBiz Select offers some general guidelines.
Create a transition plan.
Yes, you want to get your online store live as quickly as possible. But slow down for a moment, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that, sometimes, proceeding methodically can get you to your goal more effectively than just rushing in. You should figure out a timeframe, and set a date for when you need to have your online store open. You should also set a budget, with an eye to such expenses as web design, web hosting, and ecommerce software (approximately $2-5k plus 3-5% fees). Don’t forget to include packaging and shipping costs, too. Furthermore, you should consider any financial loss you may experience due to your shuttered shops.
Update your website.
A site that was initially designed to provide information about your store may need an upgrade if it is to function as your company’s shopfront moving forward. This is why it’s a good idea to invest in the assistance of professionals to get your website just right. A graphic designer can help you develop images and logos that properly convey your brand and ethos. A web designer will make sure your site is stylish, informative, and easy to use, as well as keep your site secure, which is especially important due to the increased risk of cyber-attacks. You will also need to decide on the best ecommerce platform to start making sales online.
Increase your digital presence.
Getting your website updated and ready to go is just the beginning. You also need to expand your digital reach as much as possible by increasing brand awareness and letting customers know you’ve gone digital. The best way to enhance visibility is through a solid marketing strategy that effectively gets your name out there. Look to a firm like eBiz Selects to give your website the digital makeover it needs to help boost optimization and drive leads. It’s also wise to take advantage of the many opportunities allowed by social media. The great thing about social media is how affordable it is. Your expenses will usually extend only to targeted ad campaigns or, better yet, in hiring a social media pro. You should also make sure your company is visible on job boards, maps, and directories, as well as invest in online advertising.
Integrate tech into your systems.
Now that your store and your sales are online, this is a good time to update your entire operations and use more automated systems for managing your business. Try out scheduling and communication apps to maintain organization and keep your team updated. Automation software can help you keep up with customer communication. You can also update your payroll system to one that will keep track of your time by job code and more: Having a system that is available in mobile app form will help you stay on top of payroll, even on the go, so your staff is paid on time and you’re better able to keep an eye on your team’s productivity.
Get an Educational Boost
If you entered the world of entrepreneurship fairly green, you’re likely learning as you go, and there’s a lot to be said for this. However, given the last 18 months, being able to guide your business successfully is now more important than ever. To lead your business forward in a post-pandemic world, consider adding additional certifications or even an advanced degree to your skill set. An MBA, for example, will give you the tools you need to be a better business leader. You’ll gain insights into management, operations, communication, accounting and more. Plus, online classes make it easier to stay on track at work and with school.
While all this may seem like a lot of work, chances are, much of these changes would have been necessary soon, anyway, to keep up with the advancements in tech and the marketplace. Being more fully automated with a stronger digital presence is likely to help your company in the long run. Your extra hustle to survive may actually lead to better profits for less effort, in the future.