It’s always been a challenge for small tech businesses to compete with big names in the industry like Apple or Google. During the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns across the country, it’s become even more difficult. Across all industries, 79% of small businesses are reporting moderate to severe negative impacts from the pandemic, but the pandemic has impacted the tech industry in some unique ways.
Earlier this year, the spread of COVID-19 in other countries interrupted supply chains, making it more difficult for businesses to buy electronics or parts. The economic downturn has also led to decreased demand for some small tech businesses, such as web development companies. Other companies have had to adjust to moving their business online or sending their workforce to work from home.
During these difficult times, small tech businesses have relied on strategic thinking and flexibility to remain in business. Some of the changes that are helping small companies stay afloat include:
Emphasizing Remote Services
Some small tech businesses were already in a good position to serve customers who are staying home as much as possible. Many startups in the tech industry have reported working from home with little or no disruption of their operations. Some services, like IT support, have remained in demand during the pandemic, as businesses of all sizes rely on technology to keep their operations running.
But some tech companies that depend more on in-person customers, such as businesses that sell or repair electronics, have had to adapt their business model. Like businesses in the restaurant and retail industries, some are offering curbside drop-offs and pickups to serve their customers safely. Others have been relying on online sales and mail-in service as an alternative to in-person customer service.
Taking Every Safety Precaution
Tech companies that provide necessary services, such as keeping electronic systems and devices up and running, are considered essential businesses and were allowed to keep their doors open during many states’ lockdowns. But remaining in business means operating safely for both employees and customers.
For customers to feel safe entering a business, they need to know it’s taking every necessary precaution, including:
- Masks and gloves for employees
- Frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizer
- Frequent disinfection of commonly used surfaces
- Daily deep cleaning of the business
Taking these precautions not only protects employees and customers, it lets customers know that they can safely enter the business.
Maintaining Customer Loyalty
While consumer spending is down, it can be difficult for any business to bring in new customers. During times like these, repeat business from customers is more important than ever. Many small tech businesses have been focusing on building customer loyalty by:
- Providing clear communication business hours, potential closings and anything that might affect customers, such as difficulty getting electronics or parts needed for repairs due to the pandemic
- Focusing on customer service and maintaining a positive customer experience
- Offering discounts or rewards for repeat customers
- Encouraging satisfied customers to buy gift cards to support their business and spread word of mouth advertising
By engaging with their regular customers and making sure they’re happy with their service, many small businesses have been able to remain profitable.
Investing in Employees
When many small businesses are facing budget cuts and sometimes layoffs, employee investment may seem like less of a priority. However, studies have shown that maintaining high morale in the workplace has helped companies bounce back from past recessions faster. A workplace that functions well is more likely to maintain good customer service, retain their best employees and remain profitable.
Some of the ways that small businesses can invest in their employees include:
- Provide opportunities for mentorship and education
- Maintain clear lines of communication between managers and workers
- Offer employees the flexibility they need to maintain a good work-life balance
Surviving a pandemic and economic downturn requires a committed and highly functional team. One of the best things small tech businesses can do for their own bottom line is focus on taking care of their employees.
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