5 ways to support the growth of your small business post-pandemic
Updated: Apr 25
Business trends to act upon in 2022
The past two years have undoubtedly been a challenging time for Britain’s small businesses.
Now, in the face of rising costs and inflation, 2022 is throwing up a fresh set of difficulties particularly if you are one of the 6 million small businesses in the UK. The much-desired recovery we had hoped for in 2022 may not come to fruition, but having been through the pandemic, many small businesses have shown that it is possible to thrive in the face of adversity.
This was the conclusion drawn by Small Business Britain in its recent report, ‘How to Recover,’ looking at how small businesses pivoted and adapted during the pandemic. Whilst there was certainly no magic solution, the report highlights five factors that helped small businesses thrive in these unprecedented times and are fundamental to recovery moving forward.
These 5 factors are closely aligned to Sharp Thinking’s business philosophy when supporting SMEs.
1. Adopting a growth mindset:
Remaining agile when running a business has proven highly beneficial to small businesses in the pandemic. A growth mindset gives you the inner strength to persevere, try new things, and move forward despite challenges. Seeing your business as a work in progress, rather than the finished article. It can be hard for small businesses to make changes when you’re multitasking and your business isn’t performing as you want it to, but adapting to changes in customer behaviour and the external environment will pay off. The pandemic forced many small businesses to take new risks again and again, but with many positive outcomes.
The report highlights the "Problem-solving superpowers" small businesses have undertaken and the resilience and inner strength small businesses have adopted in the UK.
I've witnessed this myself with many of my clients over the last two years. This includes Simmonds Ltd, a school uniform provider based in Kent. I helped create a new marketing and brand strategy for the business. They opened a new flagship site during the second lockdown near Maidstone which some may think was risky, but they understood the strategic importance of the location and acted upon customer insight in order to future proof the business.
2. Seeking advice from third parties
A crucial part of business survival during the pandemic was attributed to the idea of NOT ‘doing it alone.’ Seeking out support, whether that was gaining advice from an industry network, business mentor, or colleague, or outsourcing for expertise has many benefits.
Outsourcing has become increasingly popular in the last few years particularly for HR, Finance, IT and marketing as it provides expert resource you can switch on or off when you please without paying expensive overheads. Not only will you find the job will be done quicker, but you will benefit from the impartiality and fresh set of eyes on your business.
External resource and collaboration can bring new ideas and methods you may not have considered. If outsourcing isn't currently viable, draw support from stakeholders across your network. This could be suppliers or customers - they each have a vested interest in your business.
3. Adding something new
Over half of small businesses stated ‘adding something new’ was a business goal in The Small Business Britain report. New revenue streams were seen as the most impactful way to recover and survive 2022 and 54% of small businesses see new revenue streams as the way through the next few months.
This doesn’t necessarily mean an overhaul of products or systems, it could be taking a fresh look at different parts of the business to see where there could be new opportunities to engage with customers.
“New does not have to mean changing the business delivery at all but taking a fresh new take on the business and looking at new opportunities such as partnering or a marketing refresh. "
Market research is always a goods starting point. Find out where there are gaps in the market and what your customers needs are.
Learn more in our business tips for small businesses which highlight the importance of adapting your offer, which is critical to survival and remaining relevant in the current market.
4. Digital transformation
Vast numbers of small businesses turned to digital channels and technologies to help them survive and prosper during the pandemic. Small Business Britain reveals that 40% of small businesses added new digital technologies to their business and 56% improved staff digital skills. Digital channels and technologies were a vital gateway to foster communication and sell to customers during the pandemic, helping to automate marketing amongst other things.
“The pandemic has spurred a massive growth in the use of digital channels – websites, global online market places, even video chat has grown as a sales tool. But now restrictions have been lifted, explore non-digital channels to market. For some, moving away from a retail shop or office building may be the best financial move, but try other face-to-face sales channels such as festivals or fairs.”
The investment in technology paid off for many businesses, with over half of small businesses using technology to build new sources of income. Automation and the use of AI has aided this, making it a highly attractive and viable option for small businesses. This year the government launched Learn to Grow, a new funding programme to encourage businesses to adopt digital technologies including CRM tools.
5. Make a plan
Despite the uncertainty, many small businesses have taken control and embraced business plans to help them create a more predictable future for their business. Looking at the nuts and bolts of their business and the environment in which they operate, they have a better understanding of their business and feel more resilient to weather future challenges.
Interestingly, Google Searches for advice on how to write a business plan have increased by 13% in the last two years. Businesses are taking control of their fate. They're making more plans, and finding ways to both predict the future and de-risk potential scenarios that may throw the business off course.
Putting time aside to plan for the future is something I am hugely passionate about. It is essential for all businesses to regularly step back and take time to plan for the future. All small businesses should have a business plan and marketing strategy in place. If you don’t, your business may well be suffering as a result.
Plan for the future
Many founders have found over the pandemic they've come to understand their business better because of the challenges they've faced. They are clearer now on where their costs are going; they have clarity on what works for their business and how far in advance they need to start the sales process; they're more savvy about potential hazards that could befall the business, and how to avoid them in the future.
No matter where you are at with your business, taking a step back and making a plan is vital, embracing the lessons you have learnt from the pandemic. Use this knowledge to plan for the future and make contingency plans.
If you would like to discuss how Sharp Thinking Marketing could support you and create a marketing strategy to take your business forward, please get in touch for a free 30-minute consultation.