The pandemic dealt a huge blow to small businesses nationwide. According to the National Small Business Association (NSBA), 28 million small businesses employ 57 percent of America’s private workforce. The World Economic Forum states small businesses make up 99.9 percent of all the country’s businesses.
According to the Forum, compared to January 2020, 34 percent of small businesses are closed as of April 23, 2021. Despite this, the American entrepreneurial drive remains undeterred. The U.S. Census Bureau data shows that monthly new business applications classified as high propensity spiked to 551,657 in July 2020 and numbered 487,939 in April 2021. It is a stark contrast against the number of monthly new business applications from 2005 that were mostly below 300,000 and just breached that figure minimally in late 2019.
Businesses Must Be Online in 2021
New small businesses and existing small businesses must work harder during the pandemic and the new normal that it is spawning. One of the most evident changes is the larger role of IT support in all types of businesses. This is no longer limited to companies in technology but is now a must, even in a one-man home-based operation.
The most basic need for any enterprise today is an online presence. All commerce is now happening online. The existing businesses survived over their competitors only because they already had an online presence or quickly built one in the early days of the pandemic. Even when physical stores and offices reopen later, consumers already have the habit of first searching online and conveniently finishing a deal there.
Now, not only is the website the face of any company, but it is also where its business transactions are occurring. Any small business must have a compelling website that clearly presents what it offers to meet the visitor’s needs and is easy to navigate. It must have various online payment options so that a visitor that finds something attractive can quickly make a purchase.
Artificial intelligence is now used to customize each guest’s visit. For instance, when a guest clicks on a product or service, the website can also show similar products or services that the guest may like. It can remember a guest’s preferences and automatically show these in his or her next visit.
The website must rank high in searches to attract visitors. Concerted efforts through various digital marketing strategies and techniques are necessary to drive traffic to the website.
Use of Third-Party Services
Because it is expensive to buy equipment and software and hire a professional IT team to do these for one small business, it is more cost-effective to get third-party services. These service providers have people constantly upgrading their skills and have up-to-date equipment and software, so you need not carry the costs for all these.
If you have skills in digital marketing and you have time to spare, you can do this yourself and saturate social media platforms. If you want a more professional campaign, hire a digital marketing service to free up your time so that you can focus on your core business itself.
Use of Technology in Business Processes
The shift to home-based employment is beneficial to small businesses because it immediately cuts down overhead costs. For enterprises that are not just a one-man affair, technology is crucial not only for online meetings and sharing of documents but also for shared software. Small businesses must ensure data security, so it is safer to pay for secure cloud services that offer backup services, data recovery, and maintenance.
The basic paperwork necessary to run a business, like accounting, payroll, and other human resources tasks, can be daunting even for the smallest company. Any company can automate these, though, and centralized to save time and avoid human error.
A centralized IT system can streamline a company’s operations, eliminating redundant work and connecting information to automatically trigger relevant processes. For instance, information on the sale of an item can trigger the elimination of that item from inventory. When the inventory reaches a certain level set by the company, the system can send a warning of low inventory to trigger automatic ordering of the item from its supplier.
Technology Maximizes Human Inputs
Technology does not eliminate the need for human inputs in business. Instead, technology takes the tasks that can be automated so that the human intellect can be used in more creatively analytical ways that lead the direction of the business.
The business owner and any employees need to upgrade their skills to maximize the use of technology. At the same time, they must also upgrade their creative and analytical skills to do what IT cannot do for the business.