Many SMEs have found the COVID-19 pandemic to be a catastrophic time. Apart from a very small number who happened to provide the services and products that became essential during the period of lockdown, virtually all SMEs have suffered operational or financial hardship as a result of these trying times.
But if you are a business owner, you effectively have two choices: wait around and hope everything goes back to normal, or seize some of the unexpected opportunities created by the pandemic for SMEs. And the fact is, normality won’t be returning any time soon – so if you want your SME to continue to thrive, you’ll need to prioritise making smart changes.
Here we take a look at some of the unexpected opportunities arising for SMEs from the COVID-19 pandemic and how your business can capitalise on them.
More men buying online
It is interesting to note that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the shopping habits of many customers. In fact, a recent study revealed that through COVID-19, 18% of women said that they are shopping more online than they did in the past. However, the number of men doing so was even higher, at 24%.
This suggests that men have now become a larger consumer online and SMEs can look at this as a potential opportunity. Shifting marketing tactics and new product launches towards men could potentially see a rise in profits simply from the fact that men are actually more likely to be buying than they were.
eCommerce SMEs could use this as an opportunity to evaluate what they are currently doing and look at the possibility of promoting more products to men.
Digitise your business
One of the major changes created by COVID-19 was the fact that a much larger number of the population were expected to work from home. It is still the case that far more people are working remotely than was the case before the pandemic – and this is actually something that businesses can take advantage of if they are looking to digitise.
“Of course, we aim to cause as little disruption to our clients as possible – but some is usually inevitable,” says Christian Pott, the founder of document management specialists Images-On-Line “but the coronavirus pandemic has given companies extra space on their premises and a larger number of staff working from home. So not only is digitising easier because of COVID-19, it is far more essential”.
Digitising aspects of your business can have huge benefits for the organisation, but it can be disruptive, so why not use the time afforded by COVID-19 to get it sorted?
Take advantage of government schemes
Governments around the world understand the importance of kickstarting the economy after the difficult initial period of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the UK, the government has put in place a number of schemes to encourage people to start spending money again to restart the economy and help companies.
One programme already in place is the Eat Out to Help Out which provides customers with 50% their bill when they visit a restaurant. This allows restaurants to claim back the money from the government whilst encouraging more spending in the economy. And this is just one of the many schemes available to help SMEs.
You should do some research into what is available to help out companies in your industry and ensure that you are making the most of them.
As a result of COVID-19, 69% of businesses suggest that they will decrease their marketing spend in 2020. Of course, marketing can be seen as a non-essential cost for businesses at a time when everyone needs to make savings. But this also creates opportunities for those businesses brave enough to increase their spend during this period.
Ultimately, businesses spending more will have less competition as so many competitors will be decreasing their spend. Whilst people might not be spending as much money, you can invest in a strong marketing campaign to get a greater market share than you had in the past.
There are opportunities in the COVID-19 pandemic, SMEs just need to be willing to look for them in unexpected places. If your business can capitalise on these opportunities it gives you the chance to minimise damage and even help your company to grow and thrive despite these challenging times.