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Although the last few months have looked bleak for many entrepreneurs, who were forced to shutter their businesses amid the COVID-19 epidemic, things should be looking up soon. That’s the word from a new survey, which reveals that 74 percent of small business owners foresee a return to normal within the next six months.
The report, published by the Connected Commerce Council (3C) in partnership with Google, is based on data collected from 502 US-based small businesses by LRWGreenberg between May 6 and May 18.
Majority Have Adjusted Revenue Projections
Although 15 percent of small business owners in the study said they haven’t had to change their revenue projections for the year following the pandemic, the majority of respondents (57 percent) said their projections have been affected negatively, while 20 percent say it’s too soon for them to make a determination on whether projections will be affected.
Businesses that have fared well include those that were using digital e-commerce tools prior to the rise of COVID-19. In fact, those businesses were 5.5 times more likely to project a revenue increase for this year compared to 2019 versus businesses that weren’t using e-commerce before the pandemic.
In addition, the report indicates, small businesses that lacked e-commerce platforms prior to the pandemic are twice as likely to report that they had to temporarily stop operating during the pandemic, versus those who were already selling their services or products online.
Many Businesses Adapted Quickly
The majority of businesses polled say that digital tools have helped them navigate the crisis more smoothly than if they hadn’t been so deeply immersed in the online culture. In fact, 31 percent of respondents said they would have been forced to close their businesses if they hadn’t had access to digital tools.
For instance, the report profiles The Spice House, an Illinois-based spice purveyor with four brick-and-mortar locations that had to shut down when the COVID-19 crisis hit. But with more people cooking at home, demand for the company’s spices rose, and when CEO Charlie Mayer began focusing all of his efforts on the company’s online sales portal, he was shocked to see sales skyrocket, with more orders than the company had ever received in its 60-year history.
The company hired new staff members to keep up with demand, many of whom had been laid off from the restaurant industry. “We’re all in this together, and it is precisely because we have been able to do so well as a digitally connected business that we are able to help others collectively get through the challenging times with us,” Mayer said.
More Businesses Move Online
As any business owner has noticed, online communication tools like Slack and Zoom have seen significantly greater adoption since the COVID-19 pandemic began. As people work to stay connected in the age of social distancing, businesses have also shifted more of their processes to a digital format.
The survey noted that more than 80 percent of small business owners have expressed interest in learning more about how they can use digital tools to grow their firms, with 43 percent working to build/improve their online presence, 37 percent saying they want to use messaging to connect with customers, and another 27 percent creating/optimizing digital ads to find more customers.
It’s clear that small businesses have undergone a seismic shift in the way they operate, but by optimizing their use of digital tools, many entrepreneurs are finding ways to set themselves apart during this challenging period.