For Growth-Minded Entrepreneurs, There’s No Time Like The Present
While the COVID-19 pandemic has upended many businesses, it has also proven the ability of tech to improve economic resilience. We know that the pandemic recovery will be tech led — and a major part of that is how many small and new businesses will accelerate their adoption of free and low-cost technology tools to supercharge their growth:
— 2020 saw a record number of new business starts.
— Small businesses are using digital tools to adapt and thrive during the pandemic.
— Low cost digital tools help level the playing field between small and large businesses.
2020 saw a record number of new business starts.
Q3 2020 saw the biggest number of new business applications since record keeping began in 2004, according to the Census Bureau’s Business Formation Statistics.
Virtual work has enabled many entrepreneurs to start their own businesses, writes Growthink president Dave Lavinsky. “First, we are seeing unemployed workers starting their own businesses. Realizing they need to be responsible for their own financial destinies, these entrepreneurs are opting out of the traditional workforce to start their own companies. Secondly, we are seeing virtual employees launching their own businesses. I think the mindset for many has become ‘if I’m going to ditch the office, why not ditch the boss too?’ And many new work-from-home employees have now gained one to three hours per day as their commutes have been eliminated. Some have been using this time to develop their business plans and launch their own companies.”
Small businesses are using digital tools to adapt during the pandemic.
Small business owners have upgraded their tech capabilities during the pandemic, according to a Tech.co survey of 100 small businesses. Findings from the report:
— All respondents used lockdown periods to build their businesses, with the majority focusing on marketing, connecting with customers, and upskilling.
— 76% have upskilled during the lockdown – with SEO, social media, new languages, and data analytics coming up as the most common new skills being picked up.
Small and medium businesses (SMBs) have leaned on digital tools during the pandemic, according to a recent report from the Connected Commerce Council.
A July 2020 McKinsey study found that digital contactless experiences are “the most effective way for small businesses to meet new hygiene and safety expectations.” “For example, the restaurants that have fared better since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis have often turned to their digital capabilities and investments in technology to reset their channel mixes to increase takeout and delivery, build loyalty by enabling customers to order through their first-party apps, and increase the flexibility of their supply chains. An international restaurant group managed to keep a majority of its US restaurants open during the crisis by serving food through drive-through, delivery, and takeout channels. New menu items even drove a net increase in sales for some of its brands in the first quarter of 2020.”
Small businesses are using cloud services to continue operating during the pandemic, according to a June 2020 survey of 300 small business owners from the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. From the survey:
— 84% of small business owners report that cloud services are essential tools when it comes to operating their business.
— 76% say that cloud services have been critical to the survival and operation of their business during the COVID-19 situation.
— 84% say that cloud services have improved employee productivity and collaboration.
Powerful yet low-cost technology tools help level the playing field between small and large businesses.
Low cost digital marketing tools enable small businesses to compete directly with large corporations, says the Digital Advertising Network. “Traditional marketing plans require a high amount of budget to achieve advanced business growth, and it is not easy to compete with larger corporations that can afford any marketing expense. Startups and small businesses need a lower cost with a higher rate of return. This is possible only with digital marketing because it undertakes any size business to be noticed and grow in any location worldwide.The digital world allows you to create an online store and an online platform to interact with your clients regardless of where you and your clients are.”
Efficient and effective digital advertising has made it easier for small businesses to reach audiences of potential customers, according to Asset Digital Communications.
A case in point: King Arthur Flour, a Vermont family-owned flour mill founded in 1790 that used digital tools to reach customers. Vice President of Marketing Bill Tine explains: “We’ve really grown into a national company that focuses on all things baking. Our consumers’ experience via our website, social media, and email marketing have been a huge part of that growth… We want to have a direct relationship with bakers in the U.S. That starts with people buying from us directly. And 85 percent of that happens online.”
Small businesses leverage cloud computing to scale at a low cost, explains Susan Ward of The Balance Small Business. “It’s easier and faster to sign up for a cloud computing application than to buy a server, get it up and running, and install and maintain software yourself. Using the cloud means you won’t need to buy hardware and software incrementally, and you can focus more of your energy on the productivity and human connections that make your small business successful.”