With some countries already removing Covid-19 restrictions entirely and talks of learning to live with the virus, small business owners are now wondering how they can optimize their business to succeed in an eventual post-pandemic world. It comes with no surprise; small businesses were affected by the pandemic and experienced an unprecedented pace of change. To survive, some have had to adapt to the new normal and to make sense of this new digital reality. Should small business owners resort back to their old ways? Should they keep their new online business model intact? In this article, we’ll discuss what small business owners can do to prepare their business to successfully operate in a post-pandemic world.
Look and Plan Ahead
It’s important to take stock of how your business performed during the pandemic and to forecast where your business could be heading in the future. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get started:
- Has consumer demand increased or decreased?
- What is the current state of your working environment; are employees working from home or following a hybrid working arrangement?
- Were some of your relationships with suppliers impacted?
- Have you developed an online presence?
No one knows what’s in store for small business owners in 2022. So, forecasting different possible scenarios will position yourself to cope with the unknown. Focus on certain initiatives and invest in areas that may need it. For instance, you may want to expand certain services, develop new products or move to a permanent work from home model for all employees. Finally, take advantage of the Covid-19 incentive relief programs that are still being offered for small businesses. We may not see the likes of such programs for long.
Embracing Digital Transformation
As digital transformation was accelerated during the pandemic, many small business owners had to begin offering their products and services online. If an endemic scenario is near, all that effort in building an online presence shouldn’t be neglected. More than ever, people are connected online, and in a post-pandemic world, things likely won’t change all that much. SMB owners should stay the course with digital transformation and think long-term. With talks of technologies such as the metaverse, NFTs and cryptocurrency gaining popularity, our digital landscape is only set to grow. Generation Z, known as digital natives, grew up in a digital world comprised of smartphones, social media and where information is instantly available. SMB owners should consider this audience when making decisions and focus on building a brand that caters to their needs. It doesn’t matter which services or products you offer, there is always value in having a strong online presence.
Working Conditions for Employees
Humans are adaptable, and with hybrid work models becoming the norm, some people now prefer this option over previous working arrangements. If working on-site is always required, it might be wise to reopen gradually, as this will give your employees time to adapt. And if hybrid working arrangements are possible, it might be worth making this model permanent for employees. According to a survey in 2021, 58% of respondents reported wanting to be full-time remote post-pandemic, while 39% responded to a hybrid work environment. That’s a total of 97% of workers who desire some form of remote work. It’s up to small business owners to decide how to approach this situation, but do expect some pushback from employees if working on-site is always required.
Nurturing Employee Mental Health
As pandemic fatigue is settling in, as much as one-in-three Canadians reported struggling with mental health, and 23% said they’re depressed. Nurturing employee mental health should be a top-of-mind concern so that your business is at its best. This can be accomplished in one of many ways:
- Include mental health in your company culture and mission statements
- Organize various activities and challenges for employees to manage their mental health
- Keep your employees informed and organize team-bonding activities with them, whether it’s virtually or in-person
With a strong company culture engrained in your business, your employees will be much more prepared to tackle any future challenges that may arise.
Prepare for the Unexpected
If travel and tourism pick up again in 2022, you could receive an influx of customers lining up for your services or products. As Canadians haven’t been able to travel as much, staycations have been popularized and we could see another boom in the following months as domestic tourism ramps up. Prepare for the unexpected, whether that’s by having extra staff on standby or stocking up on inventory. As we’ve seen in the past, restrictions can change in an instant. Reopen your business gradually and keep yourself informed on what’s happening on the news. It’s unclear whether we’re in an endemic scenario and if restrictions will be stricter or more lenient in the future, so plan tomorrow’s success today.
The Bottom Line
By planning for different scenarios, embracing progress made in digital transformation, strengthening your team’s mental health, and preparing for the unknown, your business will be in a much stronger position once the post-pandemic world settles in. You never know, 2022 could be a golden opportunity and depending on your type of business, you could be in for big spring and summer seasons!