COVID-19: Forced into a New Normal
In 2020, the world was faced with one of the worst global health crisis of modern history. Although there is still much speculation regarding its origins, studies have shown that this has, most likely, come from a variation of bat coronavirus. Just within 30 days after the first cluster of pneumonia incidents, COVID-19 has made its way to over 18 countries. Not long after, life as we know it has drastically shifted.
While there have been pandemics in the past, they have never occurred in the same global magnitude as COVID-19. This begs the question, what has led this current pandemic to become one of the most disruptive diseases of modern time? Epidemiologist Beth Linas gave insight on how COVID became such a global phenomenon. Examining the data, the growing global economy has much to contribute. There are several factors that led to its wildfire-like spread. However, the most important to note would be its mode of transmission in the present day.
With the global economy, movement is constant – whether it be goods, services, or people. If before diseases are kept isolated by physical borders, the current global context made sure that a disease originating from one side of the world could make it to another. Through air and seas, the infections spread, and this took us to where we are today.
Given that the economy is one of the major contributors to incubating COVID-19 to its current scale, it comes as no surprise that putting borders on the economy is essential to control the outbreak. With widespread lockdowns, quarantines, and restrictions on movement, the health system was not the only sector that took a hit. Businesses both big and small had to adapt to the changes. Unfortunately, for some, the changes were far too drastic that they were not able to cope.
Initial Impact of COVID-19 on Small Businesses
While generally all businesses were affected by the pandemic, some were harder hit than others. Larger and more established businesses were more resilient despite economic losses. Although their operations have been minimized, a lot of them were still able to sustain operations. However, the same could not be said for smaller businesses.
Many small businesses have been forced to close as it became impossible to continue running the business. In the first few weeks of the crisis, several businesses had to resort to mass layoffs. The closure of physical stores has left in-store staff with no work to do. It was especially difficult for businesses that are considered non-essential as they are not allowed to operate, even at minimum capacity. The world economic forum estimated that over 114 million people lost their jobs (so far) to the pandemic. In terms of labor income, this translated to over 3.7 trillion dollars of labor income losses globally.
In the early day of COVID-19 in the United States, for example, news reports show that over 60% of businesses discontinued operations. While these establishments have gradually reopened, more than half of these still remain closed and a large amount has little to no chances of reopening or recovering.
As lockdowns became longer and longer, businesses have become more strained and fragile. Economy experts presented drastic figure changes stating that if the pandemic had a shorter duration, over 72% of businesses would have had the potential to recover. As the duration stretched out, more businesses are being spread thin.
Even for businesses that were able to survive longer, business uncertainty is becoming increasingly higher. The decline in sales, the unpredictable market, and the projected economic decline post-COVID have shaped the attitudes of consumers. While some businesses have kept afloat for a long time, there is still no assurance that they will survive the entire duration of COVID-19 or its aftermath.
Upcoming Business Paradigm Shifts – 2021 and Onwards
The experiences of the previous year and the learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic will definitely lead to changes in how businesses operate in 2021 and for the years to come.
Greater Shift to Digitalization
First and foremost, it has been made clear that digitalization is no longer optional. While many businesses have opted to remain disconnected for a long time, the realization of how the current world is vulnerable to global events will make digitalization a priority among many people. This is why businesses will be forced to adapt and advance their digital infrastructures even further. As seen in the previous year, businesses that found a way to shift their operations online were the ones who were able to continue the business. Now, the goal is to stay on top and meet the growing demands for easy and accessible digital-based services. Consumers are now expecting seamless digital services. If a business decides to stay offline, then it simply could not compete with the competition.
To improve a customer’s digital experience, small businesses of 2021 are prioritizing:
- E-commerce/e-shopping platforms
- Online transactions and e-payment methods
- Improved virtual assistance/support
- Quick and easy delivery options
- Online scheduling/appointment systems
In essence, customers are now looking for convenient ways to avail services from start to finish without even leaving the home. Consumers need to be able to browse for what they need, find all information about the product/service, pay, and set up when/how they wish to avail of the service or receive an item – all while being online.
Remote Work Is Here to Stay
Within 2020, businesses were able to adjust to the work-from-home setting. Because of its success, remote work will no longer be a temporary set-up.
In the earlier days of the COVID-19, there were still many different issues experienced by workers and business owners when working remotely:
- Communicating has become more difficult, especially when compared to face-to-face
- Some workers experience connectivity issues
- Work-life separation becomes harder with remote work
- Remote work has been inefficient compared to office-based
But a year later, the conditions have greatly changed. The online tools and internal systems of companies have improved, making it easier to communicate among employees. Not only that, but employees have also become more adjusted to the process which resulted in better efficiency, time management, and work-life balance. Internet service providers have also adapted with their services, improving and expanding connectivity all around.
With the previous remote work issues resolved, the advantages of working remotely have become more evident:
- Greater work flexibility and accessibility
- Fewer overhead/operational costs
- More company savings
- Better opportunities for investment
With remote work, company resources can be focused more on improving the company’s online presence. For small businesses this 2021, the shift to digitalization and remote work complements each other.
A Shift in Financial Goals: Growth to Profitability
Because of the economic hit in 2020 and the projected economic crisis to follow post-COVID-19, businesses will shift to a more conservative financial focus.
Businesses will want to stay afloat and recuperate from the financial losses of the previous year. As such, instead of focusing on growth and business expansion, businesses will think twice about creating risky business decisions. While business projects may be high cost – high reward, this is not a gamble that small businesses can take at the moment.
Instead, the priority will be to stick to what they know works and try to improve on these operations and services. By simply optimizing their current services and enhancing their current products, businesses can stay relatively stable. They can earn more while they are spending less.
The key term in the approach of businesses in 2021 will be “profitability.” 2021 and the years to come will serve as a “recovery” period for a lot of small businesses. As such, staying relatively safe and stable will be the primary interest of businesses.
Changes in Consumer Behavior
The market that businesses are trying to cater to will also experience a dramatic shift in 2021 and in the years to come. The economic crisis did not only affect businesses but the population in general. As such, it is in the best interest of consumers to improve the local economy and make it more resilient to the upcoming financial crisis post-COVID-19. That being said, consumers will be more driven to support smaller businesses as this could help promote local economic growth.
In research on consumer behavior, surveys conducted reveal that COVID-19 has made consumers more conscious of the establishments they support. The data revealed that 59% of consumers are now looking to contribute by choosing to patronize small businesses over large corporations. Consumers have witnessed how many local establishments did not survive the immediate closures brought by the pandemic. This has made them more conscious of the impact their choices have in sustaining their local economies.
To leverage on the consumers’ priority of supporting local, small businesses also need to improve their accessibility. The market is willing to support. As such, it is important for the business to be visible as well.
How Can Proweaver Help?
With all the changes to small businesses a year after the pandemic, one thing remains clear – digitalization has become more relevant than ever. Given that, we, here at Proweaver aim to be one of the leading providers of web solutions, we understand the role we play in helping businesses successfully recover and grow from COVID-19. That said, we are glad to offer our services to small businesses from different industries.
Connecting Your Business to the Market
Proweaver can help improve your business visibility to your target market through our graphic design, custom website, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and special project services.
First and foremost, we can help you build your brand with effective design. Our design team can help bring your business to the next level by carefully designing the brand materials that will help bring recognition to your business. In designing, we focus not just on aesthetics. We will also make sure that the logos we create are marketable, memorable, and effective.
Once you’ve established your business branding, we can help develop the tools that will help equip your business in the digital space by offering custom website design. In this service, our agents will communicate with you to make sure that the vision you have for your website can be achieved. We also have experienced content writers who can create informative, interesting, and engaging content. This way, we can draw more clients toward your business. With the excellent quality of our websites, we will help you establish confidence, competence, and professionalism in your company branding.
After building your website, we will implement search engine optimization strategies to improve your website ranking and make it more visible to your target customers. Since working on SEO is a long and tedious progress, our analysts will constantly review the progress of your website analytics. Based on the progress, we will constantly build up on previous SEO strategies to ensure that your website is on the right track. We will research relevant keywords and integrate them into your SEO strategy. With the help of our content writers, we will also create articles for your website. This will help keep your business relevant in the digital space.
We can also help you grow your audience. After having the tools needed to establish an online presence, you need proper social media management to ensure that your business gains traction. Having a social media profile is not enough. With the help of talented social media specialists, we can help examine your social media analytics to understand the kind of content and marketing strategies that will help you reach customers. Our specialists will work closely with expert content writers to create articles relevant to your business. These carefully planned articles will help you gain interactions and impressions in your social media profiles.
Lastly, we can help you improve your processes by building the tools and applications you need to further your business. If you need a mobile application to make your business more accessible to clients, our developers and programmers can create an app following your specifications. We will turn your visions – both interface and functionality – into a fully functional platform.
All evidence points to the projection that there’s no stopping digitalization. This is the future of business, and we here at Proweaver will take your business to the future. Call us today at +1 (877) 300-6564. Our representatives will be in touch with you!