Business as we know it has been turned upside down by the pandemic. And while organisations of all sizes have had to adapt to changing circumstances, small businesses have been the hardest hit. Strict regulations, a tough economic climate, and even enforced closures have presented many challenges.
As a small business service provider, telecoms and hosting companies, are in the perfect position to help SMBs overcome challenges. In times of change, business owners are looking for advice. By supporting SMBs when they need it most, you have a unique opportunity to create loyal, satisfied customers.
We’ve split out the biggest challenges for small businesses, and how you can help, into three areas: customers, business, and personal. We hope you find it useful.
Keeping customers happy
Maintaining a connected customer experience
Facebook, email, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, website forms, the phone… there are so many ways to reach a small business today. But small businesses are short on time and struggle to keep up with every communication channel. The risk that they miss an important message is high, and so too is the risk of a bad customer experience.
The best way business owners can overcome this is to funnel everyone to a website enquiry form. This helps keep communication central and reduces the risk of missing something. The result is that life becomes easier for the business owner and customers stay happy.
BaseKit provides a white-labeled website builder and to support SMBs with their communication; ask our partnership team for details.
Retaining existing customers
The secret weapon small businesses have to keep customers is great, personal customer service. It’s the first line of defence and SMB owners mustn’t underestimate its power.
In terms of hands-on initiatives, there are a few things SMB owners can do:
- Ask customers to leave reviews: on their website, on a review site or on Google, for example. Email reminders sent from CRM systems are useful for this.
- Share customer’s images on social media, which builds a positive relationship between brand and customers.
- Offer ‘special occasion’ or next-purchase discounts on birthdays or with refer-a-friend programmes.
A CRM system can send emails automatically after a purchase has been made, or on a certain date, which takes the burden off the owner.
A word of warning on discounts as a retention method. SMBs may not have the cash reserves of a big business, so discounts should be used sparingly. To retain valuable customer business, the small business owner needs to build loyalty to the brand, not the price.
The challenges of running a small business
Increasing brand awareness
Another small business challenge is brand awareness. A website is crucial for brand awareness, because it’s the business’ digital home online. Since the pandemic, the importance of a website has increased, even for bricks and mortar businesses. A website can be used to take click-and-collect orders and to receive bookings from local customers – a website is not just for ecommerce businesses.
A website also gives the business owner control over their online presence, which they don’t have on social media platforms. It’s crucial for brand awareness and it’s important for lots of small businesses to have social media as well as a website.
Analytics are key to SMB success. It starts with a website builder that allows users to monitor traffic and performance. If something isn’t working, simply change it and notice the impact on revenue.
Social media also needs strict reviewing. Social media management tools allow business owners to monitor engagement and see what’s paying off. The bottom line is, if something isn’t working then business owners need to know, so they can make a change.
Securing and understanding finance
The first thing to remind your small business customers, is to check what government support is available to them. The news moves at such a fast pace, it’s easy to miss the finer details of what’s available.
The idea of ‘finance’ can be scary for a small business owner, who has perhaps funded the business with their own money. A small business isn’t just a job, it’s the owner’s livelihood, so the idea of bringing in an outside source of finance can be intimidating. Reassure SMBs that it doesn’t have to be scary.
There are ways to secure finance, even if banks and mainstream lenders are reluctant to do so. Challenger banks and are often focused on small businesses and can help where traditional lenders are hesitant.
Also, SMB owners shouldn’t overlook the importance of speaking to an expert. There are professionals who can offer financial advice, support, and even broker finance for the business owner. Often these people have specific niches – retail, hospitality, consumer goods, for example – and can be invaluable for the business and its bank balance. And by working with a professional, your SMB customers can support another small business!
Maintaining personal wellbeing
Successfully managing time/work-life balance
Health is wealth; without good health, SMB owners might find themselves in a tricky spot. There’s a reason that large businesses have extensive “keyman insurance policies” in place. But small businesses? Not so much! If the business owner is unwell, not able to work or is not at their best, then the operation grinds to a halt.
So it’s vital that business owners don’t burn out. Time-saving tools are useful: technology is the small business owner’s friend when it comes to managing time. Our blog outlines a list of helpful cloud-based solutions that save time and let business owners do what they’re good at.
Help SMBs overcome challenges, create loyal customers
Small businesses are full of passion. Time and money, on the other hand? They’re a little harder to find. If you can help your SMB customers save a little time or make them some money by increasing efficiency, you’ll create loyal customers and brand advocates.
BaseKit are experts in helping small businesses get online and thrive once they’re there. Talk to our partnership team about helping your SMB customers with their challenges, and why doing so builds loyalty.