A year and a half after facing one of the largest challenges of our lifetimes, the economy is beginning to bounce back. Retail sales are jumping, unemployment is down, and there’s a feeling of relief that the worst times are behind us.
The Federal Reserve of Philadelphia predicted in February that US output would grow 4.5% in 2021, which would be the best year since 1999. Meanwhile, things are looking even better for Arizona, where unemployment rates are lower than the national average and economists forecast a gradual rebound through the year.
After over a year of staying sheltered, many consumers are sitting on significant savings, especially after three rounds of stimulus checks.
This mountain of savings could lead to the kind of spending boom necessary to rejuvenate communities and move the country forward. However, despite feelings of optimism, it’s clear that the world won’t look quite the way it did prior to the pandemic.
As you know and have seen, times of change can affect businesses in unexpected ways, both positively and negatively. Those businesses best equipped to deal with the new economic realities will be best positioned to thrive in the post-pandemic environment.
There’s no better time to plan how your business will navigate the strange, new world we find ourselves in. The following points serve as a checklist to get your business set up right for the impending post-pandemic boom.
Develop An e-Commerce Strategy
Online shopping grew tremendously in 2020, largely because of social distancing measures. The Department of Commerce found that e-commerce increased more than 32% from 2019 to 2020, making up 19% of all retail sales.
While it’s easy to dismiss these increases as an aberration from an unpredictable 2020, the data doesn’t bear this out. A survey by Digital Commerce 360 found that 64% of online shoppers intend to make more online purchases in the next six months. The truth is that once consumers become comfortable with a process, such as shopping online, they tend to stick with it. Don’t be left in the digital dust.
Small businesses need to maximize their e-commerce options to get their products and services in front of the most eyes and provide a convenient way to purchase. Fortunately, there are a host of affordable tools available that offer e-commerce solutions. Some of the most popular services include:
In addition to self-hosted options, Tucson small businesses can also post their products on Trulocal, an Amazon-like online marketplace focusing on local businesses. Last year, Trulocal chose Tucson as their first pilot city and continues to add Tucson-based vendors regularly.
Chaotic doesn’t begin to describe the days following the pandemic. Businesses were torn inside-out overnight as the world substantially shut down.
But emerging from this chaos came a sense of creativity, flexibility, and innovation born out of necessity. Many local businesses realized how quickly they could pivot once the pandemic forced them to.
Now that we’ve entered the rebound, it’s important for local businesses to hold onto that creative spirit. This is an opportunity to take a hard look at the lessons from the pandemic and the ways in which operations became safer and more efficient.
For many businesses, remote work became the largest disruption to the workday. But after a few months of transitions, most businesses figured out how to make it work as virtual meetings became a regular part of the job.
With 70% of the workforce predicted to be working remotely by 2025, businesses should figure out how to incorporate remote work into their future plans. This might mean offering employees the choice to work from home a few days a week, or every day, depending on the logistics. Providing this flexibility empowers your team to decide how they work best.
Build Your Team’s Skills
Flexibility is also the word that comes to mind regarding the workforce and their changing roles during the pandemic. The experience showed that our employees possess a much wider range of skills than we may have realized.
Armed with this knowledge, small business leaders should continue encouraging these latent skills through regular skill-building exercises. The best future leaders are developed from within, so this is the chance to build those leadership skills to help steer the business’ direction into the future.
Along with professional training, small business leaders should also take this time to rebuild their company culture. The pandemic affected all of us differently. Some are craving social environments, while others wouldn’t mind quarantining for another year. Social time with the team allows you to take a read on their feelings and develop a strategy for making the transition as comfortable as possible for everyone.
The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The legislation provided nearly $2 trillion for American businesses and individuals to combat the economic impact of COVID-19. The CARES Act included funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a lending program to protect small businesses and their employees with low-interest, forgivable loans.
While the PPP expired on May 31 of this year, there are still plenty of programs for businesses in need. Some of these programs include:
We all know that as the world continues to rapidly change, new challenges will emerge. Keeping your team nimble and resilient is a crucial component to facing inevitable challenges. And for each one, Vantage West is only a call away to help you navigate a solution.