Running a small business is never easy, especially during a pandemic. Millions of businesses have been forced to close their doors due to the impacts of COVID-19, but others have been able to transition their businesses online and stay open (or even grow). If you are a small business owner, moving your services online is your best chance to survive the pandemic. In this post, we will break down everything you need to know about moving your business online successfully, step by step.
Step 1: Develop a Comprehensive Online Presence
You should create an extensive online presence for your business, including listing your business on online platforms and creating a strong website. You can list your business online for free with Skip’s business listings, which will give you a unique URL and allow customers to show their support through liking your listing.
You can also create listings on other platforms like Google, Yelp, and Foursquare. Make sure your business’ website is also up to date and includes a payment system so customers can order online. You can use a platform such as Shopify to create an online store.
Step 2: Create New Products
As you move your business online, you may not be able to sell all of the products that you did before the pandemic, or sales of certain items may go down. To ensure your business can remain profitable, you should create new offerings for your newly virtual business. For example, some restaurants are now offering pre-packaged meal kits for customers to pick up so that they can warm food up at home, and others are teaching virtual cooking classes.
Some hairstylists are offering “zoom haircuts” where they teach clients to cut their own hair on video calls. Many clothing companies are selling face masks that customers can order online, while fitness trainers and yoga teachers are teaching online exercise classes. Whatever your business is, there are products you can offer to make this challenging time a little easier, while keeping yourself and your employees safe. Think about the best product to create and launch it when your business moves online.
Step 3: Use Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making your business visible on Google and other search engines. It sounds complex, but it’s very simple.
To get great SEO results for your business you’ll just need to use certain keywords on your website and social media. We wrote up a guide to SEO specifically for small businesses with the help of a renowned SEO expert. Once you have some keywords in mind, you can create content to rank on search engines.
Step 4: Make Connections with Customers on Social Media
The easiest way for customers to find your business is through social media. With so many people spending more time at home, social media is crucial for connecting with customers. In fact, a third of internet users use social media to search for brands and products. Make sure you have accounts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter that you use regularly.
Step 5: Seek Out Funding
You may need financial support to keep your business open as you transition online. Luckily, there are multiple funding streams available to small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. You could apply for an EIDL loan through the Small Business Administration (SBA) which you can track for free with our loan tracker.
The SBA also has other loan programs like the CARL program, and there are also loans and grants available through other private and public sector groups. We regularly post funding opportunities here on our blog.
Step 6: Close Down Physical Location if Necessary
You may be able to close down your physical location completely if you make your business entirely virtual. If you are no longer using your business’ physical space, you can save money by closing it down and running operations from home. About 50% of U.S. businesses are home-based.
However, if you do decide to shut down your storefront, make sure you do so as thoughtfully and carefully as possible. Check out our guide to closing down your business to learn all the details you need to take care of.
Stay Open by Moving Online
You can help your business thrive during the pandemic by moving online. Although the transition might be nerve-wracking, your business can thrive during COVID-19 by creating new products, sourcing funding, and connecting with customers online and on social media.
We are here to help with all your needs as a business owner. Sign up for Skip Plus to get help with regulations, permits, and loans, list your business for free with our listings, and follow along on our blog to hear about the latest in small business news.