Looking to the future for small businesses

It’s no secret that the global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about every industry. While some businesses have been able to adapt and remain semi-operational, others have had to temporarily halt their operations.

It’s also very difficult for small businesses that have to figure out what the “new normal” means for them. In this article, we’ll take a look at what the future looks like for small businesses and what steps they need to take to adapt.


Social distancing that works

It’s very likely that maintaining a high standard of cleanliness and social distancing, to a reasonable extent, will remain the norm in a post-COVID world. Small businesses will have to continue taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their customers and team.

Here are some actionable tips to help you implement social distancing that works:


  • Reduce max capacity. Fewer people in a room means less risk of catching the virus. Instead of 5 people working in one room, make it 3. And instead of 10 people coming in for a presentation, make it 5. Small businesses can benefit from encouraging their team to work from home whenever possible.
  • Set up hand sanitizing stations. If you have people working from the office, make everyone feel safe by setting up hand sanitizing stations all over the building, especially near places where there’s more hand-to-hand interaction, such as the entrance of the building.
  • Incorporate the use of digital tech. Add tools to your existing tech stack that reduce contact with other people as much as possible. For example, you can use a business payments solution for contactless payments, online conferencing tools for meetings, and webinars for training employees.


Hiring new staff

The ongoing pandemic has embedded the fear of contracting the coronavirus, triggering career anxiety among people.

In the post-COVID world, people will likely be reluctant to work in the traditional office setting, making it difficult for small businesses to hire new staff. On the flip side, others might find it difficult to work from home due to a poor internet connection or lack of child care options.

As a small business owner, the best thing you can do at this time is to support your existing team. It’s easier to retain your existing workforce than to hire employees and get them up to speed with your business operations.

That said if you do have to hire new people to join your team, consider conducting interviews remotely. Be flexible with your requirements and open to suggestions. In fact, due to the pandemic, organizations around the world have already shifted to a remote workforce.


Simplifying the way you manage customer relationships

Loyal customers play an important role in deciding the future of your business. Managing and maintaining customer relationships should be on top of the list for small businesses.

During times of crisis, people prefer to buy from local businesses as a sign of support to the whole community. In fact, 83% of people are willing to buy local products even if they cost a little bit more. 26% of consumers in the United States purchased from a small business in the last week just as a sign of support for the business.

Being a small business, you should prioritize maintaining customer relationships through these challenging times. Here are some tips to help manage customer relations better:


  • Stay responsive on social media. You might be losing potential customers seeking support if you aren’t responsive on your business’ social media pages. Most people prefer to use social media platforms in their free time. It’s the most convenient way for them to approach you and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to build strong customer relationships.
  • Provide proper customer service. Give your customers a proper platform for support and service. The easiest way to do this is by adding a customer service platform for your tech stack. Investing in a good customer service platform – preferably one that integrates with your customer relationship management (CRM) tool – will go a long way.


Figuring out how customer needs have changed

People’s lives have changed a lot over the past year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. That also means that their needs have changed quite a bit too.

From preferring online shopping over in-store shopping for groceries, to buying takeout food instead of eating at a restaurant, people are adapting and changing their habits to the current situation.

Businesses must provide consumers with products and services during the pandemic but also after the pandemic is over. Figuring out how to deliver services that add value during the pandemic will enable you to stay in business even after the outbreak.

Re-evaluating your business model for post-COVID is going to be a worthwhile time investment. Ask about your customers’ experience during the pandemic and gain insight into how it’s affected their lives. This information will help you answer the main question: What can your business provide to its customers after the pandemic is over? 

As a small business, you’ll need an online business payments solution like Ablii to send and request payments. It lets you customize your approval process and syncs with Quickbooks accounting software, eliminating manual data entry.



The future looks promising for small businesses that are willing to learn from the COVID-19 crisis, shift their operations, and adapt to the ‘new normal’. Digitally enhancing your day-to-day operations will be a necessary challenge but could also be turned into an opportunity.

Getting through tough times in business

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, businesses around the world have faced some pretty tough times this past year. But that hasn’t stopped them. Instead, SMEs are constantly on the lookout for new and safe ways to deliver their products and services to customers.

While it’s impossible to predict the future, preparing for the worst is important during times of crisis. In this article, we’ll share some tips to bear in mind when your business faces challenging times.


#1: Be transparent

As a business owner, you’re probably used to keeping behind-the-scenes problems private. However, people who buy from you are interested in knowing what’s going on and, in some cases, what they can do to help support the business.

Use social media platforms to keep followers up-to-date. Post regularly and share photos describing how you’ve been affected and how you’re able to overcome challenges.

For example, if you run an online store and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is getting in the way of making timely deliveries, you can let followers know by posting an update about late shipping. You can even run a poll to see if people would like you to offer curbside pickup options.


#2: Pivot your business for recovery

Since you can’t go back in time to better prepare your business for the pandemic situation, the next best thing is to start planning ahead and move forward on the road to recovery.

COVID-19 has impacted businesses in different ways forcing them to rethink and re-evaluate their operations. Here are three questions to ask yourself for getting through tough times:


  • What can we start doing? From launching new products to upgrading your website, every new idea should be put under the spotlight for brainstorming.
  • What should we stop doing? This could be a product you can’t sell, services that you can’t provide, or a project that is no longer as important as other, more time-sensitive projects.
  • What should we keep doing? Anything and everything that’ll help with the current situation and keep the business afloat. Recognize the ongoing need and figure out how your business can fulfill that need.


#3: Reach out to people

It might seem counterintuitive to invest in new marketing campaigns when your primary focus should be to get your business back on its feet. However, this doesn’t mean that you should stop marketing altogether. Try new, unconventional marketing strategies to reach out to people.

Here are a few ideas:


  • Customer referral program. Enable your customers to bring in more people that will buy from you. Affiliates earn a reward for each referral which could be something as simple as a discount on their next purchase.
  • Webinars and podcasts. Host your own podcast or join someone else’s to reach out to a wider audience.
  • Content marketing. Implement content marketing strategies to boost engagement on your blog and potentially attract new audiences.


#4: Spread empathy

A global crisis is a scary and uncertain time for any business. It’s difficult for people to handle the stress and responsibility that comes with it.

Understand that people around you handle their problems differently, and listen to everyone’s problems from a neutral standpoint. Actively listening to people’s experiences makes it comfortable for them to share and connect with you on a deeper level.

To make yourself more approachable you can:


  • Let people know how everything is affecting you and your loved ones so it’s more relatable for everyone.
  • Tell people what’s actually going on behind the scenes and how you’re coping with the crisis.
  • Share your fears with peers in hopes of creating a more trustworthy environment.

This will help you spread empathy and increase positivity through the workplace.


#5: Readjust your budget

As practically everything around you changes, it’s inevitable that your budget plan will also need to be adjusted. Here’s why: in a crisis, people’s demands change and businesses must reconsider their budget based on this change in demand. Start by converting fixed costs into variable costs.

Let’s say you rent a conference room for meetings every week. Consider hosting meetings on an online video conferencing app like Zoom. This eliminates conference room rent from the budget, reducing your fixed costs. Of course, you can always still rent out a conference room for important meetings making it a variable cost.


#6: Embrace digital technologies

Speaking of costs, taking your business digital is also a great way to reduce costs. By now, it’s evident that the future of business is going to be digital. Why not start now?

Embracing digital technologies is more efficient and more cost-effective. Most importantly, it allows you to automate routine processes.

The good news is that there are many technologies that will help you to step into the digital side of things. Ablii, for example, helps businesses manage their payments online, making it easy to send domestic and cross-border payments, reliably.


#7: Take action

Instead of flying away, pigeons close their eyes whenever danger is near. That’s an example of what not to do when facing a crisis.

For businesses, it’s crucial to take action as soon as you see disaster approaching. Failing to take action at the right time has a snowball effect on your problems. The situation will quickly start to get out of hand if you don’t do anything about it.

How is your business getting through tough times? Share your experiences in the comments section below.