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Cabarrus Magazine

SURVIVE & THRIVE! Coming Out of the Pandemic Stronger than Ever Before

Jun 19, 2020 01:20PM ● By Patrick Brouillette

"More than 100,000 small businesses have closed forever as the nation’s pandemic toll escalates…” 

according to the US Census, 83.5% of small businesses have experienced a negative effect from the COVID-19 pandemic.

If those stats don’t shock you, I don’t know what will. To make matters worse, small businesses have been targets of riots and looting in major cities across our nation. Many “mom & pop” storefronts and independently owned franchises have had whole inventories stolen and their stores ransacked. Some business owners have lost their entire buildings due to senseless arson or being destroyed from excessive vandalism.

This all comes after a nationwide shutdown in March spanning multiple months. Recently, certain states have opened, allowing small businesses to get some revenue coming in. Certain safety precautions are often mandated such as keeping the 6-feet distance and/or wearing face masks. Many businesses remain closed in certain states that still have quarantine and essential-only business mandates in effect.

Things have been bad for small businesses recently, and a quick road to recovery looks bleak in most major cities across the United States. Due to the looting and mass chaos, it will take some time for businesses in those areas to fully recover. Not only that, but people will not be allowed to enter the heavily affected areas for weeks as cleanup is underway and police actively monitor those areas.

While there is much detriment, there is much opportunity. I have witnessed numerous people jumping into new small business ownership with strictly an online presence. Think of e-commerce and e-services with a fresh website and a hungry heart. Since there is little to no upfront capital investment, many Americans can start their own businesses. While it takes grit and daily discipline, these efforts will contribute to a new commerce landscape for years to come.

I am somewhat connected to this resurgence. I have been an online small business owner for the past 2 ½ years, selling mostly fitness apparel and collectibles online. Most recently, I established my LLC to provide the country’s small business community with automated marketing solutions. With the vast amount of struggling businesses, as well as new start-up organizations, the need is strong for these services in today’s economy.

For those opening new businesses, as well as existing businesses opening their doors once again, I encourage everyone to think differently and partner with other business owners on new strategies. We are now in a new time and a new economy, with new struggles. We cannot conduct business as we once did just a few months ago. If something is working for someone else, you will want to hear that for yourself to apply to your own business and vice versa. Collaborating with each other is how we will all not only survive but thrive, in these tough times.

One way for business owners to flourish in this new economy is to establish a strong digital portfolio. To do this, make sure that all of your major social media profiles have been created and updated with your most recent content. Also, it’s important to regularly post engaging content on these platforms. This builds your follower base, as well as credibility across the web.

As a foundation, if you own a business and don’t have a modern and professional website, its due time. If you own a website that is outdated and/or doesn’t show up in search results for your products or services, that needs to change. Today, over 90% of consumers research online before buying a product or service. If you can’t be located, or have a negative reputation online, that will impact your business greatly. Remember, you never get a second chance at a first impression!

While your first thought might be to take on these projects yourself, its best to partner with an SEO agency that specializes in all of these services. A poorly-designed website or inactive social media profiles also reflect negatively on your brand image. Offloading this to a specialty agency works best to ensure you can concentrate on day-to-day business operations and productivity.

My agency was established with a new business strategy in mind to do exactly that. Partnering with business owners, understanding their vision, and building long-term relationships is what I do. Taking the time, from the beginning stages, to align me with their business trajectory and over-deliver on expected results. In the past, digital marketing agencies would get the client on the hook for a monthly fee, then sit back and collect. This model isn’t “results-oriented.” Any business partnership should always have a measurable ROI that can be tracked every step of the way.

Currently, we see companies that are doing business the same way as they did pre-COVID, however they’re failing because they can’t, or refuse to, adapt. Many organizations just aren’t structurally sound to be able to pivot at a moments’ notice. Plus, within many of these large organizations and franchises, leadership is too afraid to go against the grain to even make a statement for the betterment of the company. There are too many “yes men” and not enough true leadership to guide the ship into a new positive direction.

It really does take a different way of thinking to get beyond the bell curve and into the green. Old business tactics and even sales strategies fail in our current economy. Thinking outside the box, trying different methods, and partnering with experts in their respective fields is what it will take to bring our cherished small business community back to life.

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Patrick Brouillette
Patrick is the owner of Nationwide Automation LLC, and digital marketing agency based out of Chicago, IL. He has been building websites since the mid-1990s and enjoys partnering with other business owners.

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