Opening up a business, or running a startup company, is one of the most challenging projects that a working professional can take on. About 90% of startup companies fail, with 50% failing before they even reach their 5th year in business. Can the challenge of opening up a business get any more complicated? It can, and it did.
Trying to start a company when the odds are already stacked against you has become a more significant challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, certain industries thrived during the pandemic, such as online retailers, certain technology companies, and delivery services. However, that was not the case across the board. Additionally, there’s a good chance that the pandemic has been rough on business for any business that interacts with people live, in-person as a part of their service.
Although the challenges that come with starting up a business during COVID-19 are present, we will unpack several tips on mitigating your risk so that your business can thrive.
Keeping your office or store clean.
The businesses that remained open throughout the turbulent, heightened pandemic periods most likely adjusted their sanitization protocol within their industry. In other words, they cleaned more.
Several types of businesses were deemed ‘essential’ in many parts of the country. For example, local governments placed chiropractors into this category in most parts of the United States. This is a tricky business to keep clean. People are lying down on the chiropractic tables while getting adjusted by the hands of a chiropractor.
Twin Waves Wellness Center, a local chiropractor in Encinitas, CA, readjusted their entire sanitization efforts to keep patients comfortable and safe while entering the office. Each patient must get a temperature check before entering the chiropractic office. After receiving their chiropractic adjustment, they must spray the table with disinfectant spray before the next person uses it. These are just a few examples of significant shifts that businesses were required to do because of challenges caused by COVID-19.
Hosting business events.
If you plan to open up a business during the pandemic, first read your city’s guidelines on in-person events. You may not be able to throw the business event to market the company that you have planned, depending on the policies on the city your business is located in and where the event would be held.
Many businesses rely on large events and acquire new clients from them. While COVID-19 has put a wrench in many event schedules, there is still hope. This glimmer of hope is a word that we all know. It is Zoom. Zoom, an online platform used from your phone or computer, is now the norm for events. Startup businesses were forced to use Zoom when hosting company events, marketing events, and most other large gatherings.
Although this helped ‘get the job done’ for many startup companies, Zoom wasn’t the perfect solution. Many of us have learned through COVID-19 that human connection is critical. For companies that acquire a bulk of their new clients through referrals and word of mouth, the lack of interactions between their existing clients and community members likely decreased their referral business. If you plan on starting up a business during COVID-19, have multiple marketing campaign ideas ready to test and implement. Also, prepare to adapt areas of your business, such as meetings, to online platforms when necessary.
Retaining clients during the pandemic.
“I’m going to wait for the cases to go down” and “money is tight because of the pandemic” are two statements that have become more common during COVID-19. This makes it extremely difficult for businesses to retain customers long-term. If your clients come into your office or store in person, it’s an entirely valid response for them to want to wait until cases go down before coming back regularly. Similarly, stating that money is tight due to pandemic complications is also a valid response from a client.
For businesses that provide a service that clients continue to pay for, whether weekly or monthly, you may find COVID-19 a considerable obstacle preventing you from keeping your clients. During tough times, people cut expenses. How do you show your clients that what you offer is something they shouldn’t cut?
Lead with value. What value does your product or service provide to the end client? Instead of trying creative marketing tactics that are overly complicated, start with why a person wants or needs your services. Frame your services up in a way that is relevant to them. If your offerings genuinely positively impact their lives, they should at least consider staying an active client.
Of course, if the client still feels passionate about their reasonings for leaving, based on complications or struggles caused by COVID-19, support them. Let them know that you will be here for them when they are ready to return. Be naturally empathetic towards their situation instead of treating them like another number on your P&L statement. People buy from people. When the time comes for them to return as a client, they will remember the service you provided them during difficult times.
Don’t worry, there is hope.
Opening a business during COVID-19 is no easy feat. There are incredible challenges, depending on where you live, what products or services you offer, and how much in-person activities encompass your business. With challenges come creativity and solutions.
There is always another way of trying something within your business. Don’t give up!
Talk to others within your industry and niche that are successfully doing what you want to do. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Network with others, lead with value, and always work towards solutions that are best for the people you serve.