The pandemic had potentially one of the most negative effects on small to medium-sized businesses. Conditions, however, won’t be the same as they were before COVID-19. Your business has felt the impact, but now it’s time to figure out how to move forward and grow.
Impact of COVID on Businesses’ Growth
The pandemic has had many unintended effects on how you do business and manage your people. Such examples include how you address diversity, equity, and inclusion, remote work, and the importance of benefits.
A study done by Small Business Majority found that one in four small businesses won’t make it through the next three months without additional relief or support. However, the same study also found that 36% of small businesses say conditions are improving for them. Which side you end up on depends on successfully growing your business through the end of this year.
To prepare for growth you have to take into account the changes that have taken place in your business and with your employees. And if you’re one of the industries that benefited from the pandemic, you’ll need to figure out how to sustain the growth you’ve had.
3 Steps to Grow Your Business Post-COVID
First things first, give yourself some credit for making it through the pandemic when some businesses didn’t. You and your employees have been through a lot. But now is the time to look back and evaluate yourselves.
When it comes to evaluating the past year and a half, look to your customers, employees, processes, and technology. Write each of these four areas down and record what went well and what went wrong in each and why. There are likely valuable lessons to learn from each situation and it will help you prioritize ways to improve.
Perhaps you’ll find an existing technology platform isn’t quite cutting it and you need to find a new solution. Or you could realize that you’ve been losing more employees than expected and should evaluate your retention strategy.
Then think about your business’s future. Establish new goals and how you’re tracking against them. Assess patterns and activities that have to occur to achieve your goals. Then pay special attention to how your customers and employees factor in.
2. Evaluate Your Customers
Consumers in every industry have been impacted by the pandemic. Consumer perceptions and behaviors have likely shifted for your market. Use secondary market research or conduct your own to determine what changes occurred and what this means for your business.
Based on the information you gather, revise your marketing strategy. For many, this has meant implementing more digital strategies. For example, many B2B businesses are relying more on virtual selling to expand their market beyond their geographic location. Get creative and figure out ways how you can do the same.
3. Focus on Your Employees
The Microsoft Work Trend Index reports 40% of people want to change jobs this year. Some factors that will lead to their departure include lack of flexibility and poor benefits. The current situation has created an opportunity to make some positive changes in these areas — so do not just return to normal working life.
- Ask your employees for feedback before taking any drastic steps on work schedules or benefits. There are many advantages of remote work, so consider a remote or hybrid work model. Use market analysis to find how benefits and compensation plans might need to change. After assessing your employees’ use of the programs you have available, if you find participation in one or two is limited to a handful of employees — it could be worth sacrificing. But there are a variety of ways you can improve benefits without cutting any.
- As mentioned earlier, companies should be focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion more than ever. Take another look at your mission, vision, and values and what updates need to be made to workplace culture and policies to create a more diverse and inclusive work environment.
Closely evaluating your business, customers, and employees to identify opportunities for improvement is the best way to achieve growth. However, this requires a lot of time and effort. Leverage a human resources partner to tackle some of it and read our guide on what HR activities you can let go of.