On Monday, Facebook released the results of a survey of 88,000 small businesses. As you might expect, the news isn't great. According to the survey, 31 percent of all small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) have closed their doors in the past three months. That includes 43 percent of hotels and restaurants and 52 percent of personal businesses.
Among the findings, however, is a little good news that's worth some attention. After all, right now, we can all use a little good news, right?
Right now we're learning just how innovative small businesses truly are, and it's actually quite inspiring. Despite the fact that the past few months have been devastating to businesses of every type, 79 percent of SMBs say they are adapting their business to continue to meet the needs of their customers.
By the way, technology happens to play a pretty big role in how small businesses are innovating. The good news is, it doesn't have to be intimidating or overwhelming. Here are three ways small businesses are changing, and how you can best position your company:
Digital payments, especially in-app purchases and contactless payments like Apple Pay, have never been more popular. More than a third of small businesses have expanded the use of digital payments. Businesses and consumers have adopted contactless payments, and that isn't likely to change just because the risk of a pandemic starts to fade.
Digital payments also power many of the other ways SMBs are serving their clients. While accepting cash is still likely to be a must for many businesses, the ability to pay using an app, or tapping your iPhone on a reader, has officially become a mainstream way of paying for products and services, and it's not likely to go anywhere.
It makes sense that if you can't have customers in your store, or seated at the tables in your restaurant, it's time to get creative about how to meet their needs. While many small businesses already had an online presence, the pandemic has forced even more to turn to taking customer orders online.
In many cases, online sales used to represent a small fraction of a company's revenue. Now, it's a driving force in keeping the doors open (at least figuratively). While it takes some planning and effort to launch an online store, it isn't too late. Fortunately, site builders like Squarespace or Shopify make it relatively easy to get set up and started in relatively little time.
Rethinking Customer Interactions
Not only are small businesses moving sales online, but they're also getting creative about how they interact with customers. Sure, restaurant and grocery delivery has taken off in a world where most people are still following social distancing guidelines, and many are still under some form of stay-at-home orders.
But the internet has made it possible to stay engaged in other ways, through video meetings, for example. Meeting with potential clients, teaching music lessons, and troubleshooting customer needs have all taken on a decidedly digital approach with the explosion of tools like Zoom. There's a good chance this will continue as businesses recognize the extent to which they can scale their efforts online in a way they never could in person.
That's a good takeaway. Small businesses are facing extraordinary challenges, there's no doubt. The key is to figure out what you need to do to keep serving your customers, and then get creative in how you do just that. While you do, let the thousands of small businesses that are doing just that be an inspiration for your company.