To help small businesses manage through the coronavirus, QuickBooks hosted its first in a series of free webinars. Survival tips for business owners during COVID-19, featured Rod Kurtz, UCLA Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and Keith D. Yurgosky, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) consultant. Together, they discussed creative solutions for finding new revenue streams and engaging with customers.
1. ‘Rethink what you do’
Among webinar attendees surveyed, 52% said their small businesses are running normally. 26% said their small businesses are still open but have reduced hours. To keep things going, Kurtz says it’s time to rethink what you do.
“I’ve told business owners,” he said. “‘You are not in the industry you thought you were even just a month ago. You have to rethink what you do. Take your expertise and experience and see how it can apply to this new normal.’”
He continued, “Businesses that adapt and meet that demand are going to go even further. When this is over, the brand loyalty you create from being there in a time of need is going to serve you well.”
For small businesses that need to find new revenue streams and meet current demands, Kurtz and Yurgosky offer a few suggestions.
Take-home kits and how-to videos
For instance, a hardware store could build home-improvement kits and post how-to videos for common household projects. Restaurants and bakeries could sell make-your-own kits for kids and families. And as long as their liquor licenses and state laws permit, bars might sell kits for mixed drinks or post how-to videos for mixing cocktails.
Virtual classes and tutorials
Yoga studios, gyms, and personal trainers might offer virtual classes to accommodate at-home workouts. Meanwhile, hairstylists and makeup artists could offer online tutorials for clients.
Use what you have to create new products and services
For example, breweries and distilleries are making FDA-approved hand sanitizer to meet the current demand. Some dog-walking services, Kurtz noted, are delivering groceries.
2. Be bold and ask for help
Some small businesses might find it hard to ask others for help. But you may have already taken the first step by reading this article. Yurgosky noted that everyone needs help right now, so you don’t have to go at it alone. Among other things, Kurtz and Yurgosky suggest small business owners ask for help in a few ways.
Get expert advice
Consult your Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They’re available to help small businesses and can offer free consultations and resources. “Our services have converted to 24/7 assistance for small businesses,” Yurgosky explained.
Reach out to other business owners
Network with other business owners and ask how they’re adjusting. Seeking advice from other business owners can fuel ideas for your own business. And any tips you have might be able to help others.
Embrace customer loyalty
Some customers may be willing to help you in your time of need. Reach out to them to thank them for their continued support. Then tell them how they can help you further by donating to your GoFundMe or purchasing gift cards.
3. Cut costs and bridge gaps
Some small businesses might be able to find relief by speaking with each business and vendor they work with you. Kurtz and Yurgosky suggest a few options.
Communicate with your partners
“The first thing you want to do is reach out to your bank, suppliers, anybody you do business with,” Yurgosky advised. They may have flexible options to help you extend payments, return goods, or find other forms of assistance.
Reach out to suppliers
“Suppliers are going through the same problems you are going through,” Yurgosky explained. As such, he suggests negotiating payment plans or forgiveness. You may also be able to return unsold inventory or negotiate discounts on incoming shipments.
Speak with your landlord
Whether you pay rent or a mortgage, your bank or landlord may be offering rent or mortgage forgiveness or assistance.
Investigate hidden business costs
“Take a look at the full spectrum of what you’re spending money on,” Kurtz said. For example, restaurants and sports bars may be able to cancel or put cable subscriptions on hold. Investigate hidden costs to see what you can cut back on for now.
For more small business resources, visit quickbooks.com/smallbusinesshelp.
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