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The COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended our normal way of doing business. Stay in place orders have caused stores to shut their doors in many states. Other companies find themselves unable to fulfill shipments due to supply chain disruptions. Even for companies that are remaining open, business is largely on the decline as more people try to […]

As we outlined in the first segment of this two-part series, customer engagement is a key ingredient to building a sustainable business. Repeat customers are your most valuable fans, even when they’re just spending $5.35 on a coffee and bagel each day. The $5.35 guy, as we call him, is worth much more than just a few bucks: his […]

In neighborhoods across the country, small businesses tie the community together. They serve as gathering places for friends and celebrations and provide jobs to the locals and characters to their neighborhoods.  But Covid-19 flipped these communities upside down in a matter of weeks. Small business owners nationwide are only beginning to understand the lingering impacts […]

The fact that 92% of U.S. small businesses have reinvented themselves during the pandemic says a whole lot about this bunch. Small business owners are scrappy go-getters with no quit in them. And the survey from GetApp proves that very point. Small Business Reinventing During Pandemic According to the survey, 92% pivoted their business in at least […]

Tips For Reopening During And After The Pandemic

Although we are still in this pandemic, restrictions have now begun to lift, allowing some businesses to reopen their doors. But in this crazy post-coronavirus world, reopening your store isn’t as simple as flipping your open sign.

Even with these rolled back restrictions, 67% of people still aren’t comfortable with visiting a retail clothing store and 78% are not comfortable with sitting down at a restaurant. So how do you overcome these hurdles?

Make safety your main priority.
This pandemic has shone a spotlight on the way that companies treat their employees. The health and economic security of employees is now one of the top concerns for 90% of consumers when they decide which brands they use. Anyone who is caught not supplying their workers with completely safe conditions or is seen as not doing enough for their well-being could be quickly publicly shunned.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking that the backlash from failing to meet proper employee safety recommendations is going to dissipate anytime soon. Experts agree that what your brand does now will have long-term consequences that could leave you in a difficult situation for months or even years after the pandemic has subsided.

Therefore, you need to make sure that you are prepared to take the proper steps to help safeguard the health and safety of your employees before you think about reopening.
But what exactly does this entail? My clients are asking this every day.
In China, some retailers are making sure employees always work with the same group. This way, if one gets sick, they just quarantine the group, they don’t shut down the entire department store.

Provide a hands-off experience.
It used to be that companies strived to provide their customers with a comprehensive hands-on experience. Instead, retail spaces are now trying to make sure that they provide an experience that is as hands-off as possible. This means doing everything that you can in order to make sure that there are minimal physical interactions between customers and employees.
A lot of clothing stores are taking steps to help achieve this. For example, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Gap have all either closed most or all of their fitting rooms and will begin to hold returned merchandise for 24 hours or longer. By doing so, they help to make sure that employees are not having to go in and frequently help customers with the process of trying on clothes. Instead, they can safely direct the customers to wherever their desired clothes are located while safely maintaining a safe distance.

Use the right materials.
One of the most frustrating things about COVID-19 is that it can continue to infect people even when they avoid contact with anyone else. This is due to the fact that it has been shown to be able to live on various surfaces like cardboard, plastic or stainless steel for anywhere from 24 to 76 hours. So even if an infected person is long gone by the time another customer enters the same area, they could touch something they breathed on and consequently become infected themselves.
By using the right materials, this risk can be diminished. For example, copper is able to kill the virus within four hours of initial contact. By including more copper surfaces throughout your store, you can help ensure that germs pose a much smaller threat to employees and customers.
There is also the option to use antimicrobial materials to help further protect against coronavirus. You can make floors, walls, countertops, shelves and a lot more out of antimicrobial materials. So by preemptively stocking up on these antimicrobial structures, you can create one of the safest stores in the city.
In the Medly Pharmacies, which we are designing now, we created the Shiro chair that allows people to sit back-to-back, minimizing the chances of spreading the virus. They are also large enough to maintain the proper distance while allowing you to sit next to your kids if they are with you.

Make sure your store projects a sense of cleanliness.
If all employees are constantly wearing masks and encouraging or requiring customers to do the same, then not only are you helping to reduce the chance of the disease spreading, but you also send a clear message to your customers that you care.
Another strategy that is becoming more popular is using ultraviolet light to kill coronavirus. This technology is being experimented to disinfect clothes and dressing rooms after they have been used, according to The New York Times (registration required). Stronger and wider UV lights will kill almost any virus, but since they are harmful, the entire operation needs to be performed behind closed doors. That’s not an easy task to implement quickly, especially for small retailers.
You should also consistently perform thorough cleanings of your shopping area. While it might seem like this would interrupt shoppers as they attempt to make their purchases and make them frustrated, it actually tends to have the opposite effect. When customers see that you are taking cleaning seriously, it can help them trust your store more, which will increase the chances of them coming back during this pandemic.
While no one has the perfect answer on how to successfully reopen a store during this pandemic, following these tips can make success more likely. The big question remains: Are customers interested in your brand? In the values it represents? If customers were not excited to go into your store before the pandemic, they will be a lot less likely to do so now. Stores need to connect with customers at a deep emotional level. If the magic isn’t there, start connecting with your audience.

Article Credit Forbes

3 Ways, The Pandemic May, Make Your Business Stronger

During a crisis, for instance, a pandemic like COVID-19, some businesses will thrive, some will survive, and others will permanently shutter their doors. Those businesses that are open to adjusting the way they do business and seize opportunities to adapt and change will be more successful than those that do not. Change is necessary, and especially during troubling times, companies need to reevaluate where they are and where they need to be to remain viable.

Right now, it’s merely not business as usual, and any company with employees needs to install safety protocols, so employees feel valued and protected. Consumers are also looking for assurances that your business is protecting them and that you’re committed to providing your product or service with protections in place to safeguard their health. Consumers during COVID-19 are more careful and more invested in which businesses they patronize, and companies must work hard to retain their trust. While COVID-19 represents a discouraging future to some companies, it also offers opportunities to others. Here are some ways businesses can take on the challenge and turn it into an opportunity.

1. Learn to adapt, and you’ll become stronger

COVID-19 requires businesses to adapt or face failure. Take stock of your business and brainstorm ways to be innovative and strategize. Try new ideas, find ways to execute faster and more efficiently, and be proactive, not reactive.

2. Put your employees first

If you don’t put your employees first already, it’s time to make a change. Your employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing should be your top priority. One could argue all businesses should have been doing this anyway. Still, those who do and truly embrace this as a core fundamental will become an employer of choice for talent, retention, and professional development.

3. Be prepared to handle emergencies

Businesses who are oblivious and unprepared for emergencies like a health crisis, a natural catastrophe, or another emergency could end up closing permanently. The key to overcoming COVID-19 challenges is to inject your business with flexibility and adaptability to weather any disaster and come out on top.

Its possible COVID-19 could be a game-changer for the way businesses will conduct themselves in the future. It has already changed the way customers make purchasing decisions. Those businesses that see potential new strength in pandemic and post-pandemic environments will be the ones who successfully emerge from the current epidemic stronger and more resilient.

It’s clear that Father’s Day drives more customers to supermarkets, grocers, butchers, movie theaters, and golf courses. But there’s a good chance that all of these businesses across the country aren’t taking full advantage of the extra business Father’s Day can drive through their doors. Restaurants and other food stores might consider adding special items […]

How Should You Advertise On A Small Budget?

There may not be much money left over for advertising once you get your business off the ground. Traditional print advertising, direct mail, and online advertising can be costly and hard to customize.

Once you’ve registered your business for free on the top search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and bing, there are many other relatively inexpensive things you can do to get customers.

Pay-per-click
Pay-per-click search engine advertising, in which you create an account and pay each time a customer searches for specific phrases, finds your web site, and clicks through to visit you, can be very inexpensive. Each click can cost you as little as a penny. It’s essential to be very specific with the search phrases that you specify and are willing to pay for. Using terms that are too general, such as “wedding gift,” could result in too many people clicking through to your web site only to discover that you do not sell what they are looking for. More specific multiword terms, such as “environmentally friendly wedding gifts” result in fewer clicks, but those you do get will be from customers more likely to buy what you’re selling.

Organic search
In addition to pay-per-click, there are things you can do to raise your company’s standing in the nonpaid (also called “organic”) search engine listing. Frequently referred to as SEO (search engine optimization), there is a whole industry of consultants built around this concept. There are a few things you can do on your own to improve your organic search engine listings and, therefore, drive customers to your site. To improve your search engine standing, you should continually update your website with new information and blog posts, Whittington told BusinessNewsDaily. Continuing to update your site with relevant information will get you repeatedly noticed by search engines.

Social media
Social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, are venues that allow you to target particular groups of customers for very little investment. You can create a Facebook profile for free and post videos on YouTube, also free of charge. You can also create very explicitly targeted Facebook advertising for a small fee.
Be warned, however: If you are not familiar with social media, learning to use these sites can take time, and using them regularly can be time-consuming. Success depends on many factors, including whether or not your potential customers are the type who use these services and how effective you are (think talent and time) at using them.

Article Credits https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/

How Businesses Can Prevent Fraud Fraud is a severe issue that could take down a company, no matter its size. According to research by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), businesses lose an estimated 5% of their annual revenue.

What is business fraud?
Business fraud happens when a person or a company commits dishonest and illegal acts that result in a financial gain for that person or organization. Business fraud can often be covered and appear to be a legitimate business interaction.
Because fraud is such a grand problem – so much so that it could even lead to the critical failure of an otherwise healthy business – it’s important to combat it vigorously. Research published in Harvard Business Review (HBR) suggests that employees are in the best position to fight fraud.

What are the different types of business fraud?
Here are five major types of business fraud that could negatively affect your business:

Identity theft: A fraudster could steal the identity of your business and access your credit. Fraudsters may obtain access to your federal tax ID or financial statements. They could take this information directly from your computer.

Payroll fraud: This may be more common with a smaller business, but it can happen at companies of all sizes. Workers may ask for paycheck advances and not pay them back. They may also lie about hours they worked or have co-workers clock in and out for them. Utilizing a payroll service that lets you approve everyone’s time before they are paid may help to prevent payroll fraud.

Fake money: Your business may receive phony money. There is more counterfeit money in circulation than you probably realize. It would help if you learned how to recognize fake money so you can refuse to accept it.

Returns: If your business deals with consumer goods, you may have customers buy items, use them, and return them even though there is nothing wrong with them. Requiring a receipt and having strict return policies may help to limit return fraud.

Workers’ compensation: A business owner is required by law to purchase worker’s compensation. This insurance pays your employees if they get injured while at work. Companies should stay on top of safety and what happens in your place of employment to help prevent this type of fraud. You should also ensure that if an employee states they were hurt at work, the injury actually happened there.

Are your products needed In a COVID-19 world?

There is no remedy or solution in sight for COVID-19, but we are starting to have a better understanding of the risk we are facing. We can’t pinpoint the specific date on which everything will go back to usual, but we are starting to have a good sense of what the trail leading to this date will be.

Most likely, we are looking at a method with a long end. Countries will begin to carefully lift internal sanctions, starting with essential services.
Having choices of freshly brewed coffee is still a while away. If all goes well internally, international pathways will start to open back up. New outbreaks of COVID are more likely than not, so we should expect some difficulties as well.

By now, your business has gone through the first two most immediate steps:

1. Keep your staff safe

2. As a result of (1) move everyone to remote work, set up remote work plans, and attempt to go back as much as possible to business as usual.
There are things up in the air, many fish to fry, and any other colorful description of your choice that points in one direction: business leaders need to make a host of critical decisions and make sure their businesses stay afloat.
With a laundry list of items that demand a decision, it is essential to remember one crucial fact that is true to all businesses. Whether you’re a startup that’s just raised its seed round or a corporation with offices in every capital of the world, this rule applies to you.
Companies sell products, and they are only as good as the products they sell.
My company, your company, her company, we are only as good as the products we sell. And our products are only as good as the problem they solve.
What has just happened? COVID-19 brought the world to a near standstill. This disruption is redefining the priorities of companies and how they do business. Things are not as they used to be, and as the start of this piece suggests, it will take time to go back to normal. Even then, we are starting to understand that the future “normal” will be different from yesterday’s “normal.” Here’s one example that for many companies was unthinkable and is now a reality: working remotely. Many companies are now learning that working “remotely” is a) possible, and b) in some cases, preferable.
All of these changes mean that companies are back at the draft table. Priorities, plans, and strategies are changing. What was critical yesterday, has been downgraded, and things that sounded imaginary are now at the top of the list of priorities.
With all of these changes and disruptions in motion, can you say with great certainty that your company’s product still has Product Market Fit?
Products People Want Now
First, there has to be an obstacle. Next, there has to be a solution to the puzzle. This solution has to be desirable – meaning people should be interested in having it. Next, it needs to be available – we need to have the technology and operational expertise to build, service, and support this solution. Finally, there has to be a viable business model that justifies bringing such a solution to the market. When we follow all of these stars, we have a product people want. It is only at this moment that we can begin to contemplate scaling our solution.
As we know, these “stars” are not stationary. New problems emerge every day, and people’s tastes and desires change. Technologies are not fixed; they evolve. We discover new business models. To this end, Product people need to be continuously evaluated and re-evaluated.

COVID-19 has forced us into a vital storm. Everything is changing. With such significant changes, does your company still have a product people need? Is the problem that you set to solve is at the top of your client’s disturbances? Are there better emerging – opportunities your company can help resolve? Can new technologies help solve the problem your product is addressing in a better way? Does your business model still float in a post-COVID-19 world?

Companies sell products, and they are only as good as the products they sell.
My company, your company, her company, we are only as good as the products we sell. And our products are only as good as the problem they solve.
What has just happened? COVID-19 brought the world to a near standstill. This disruption is redefining the priorities of companies and how they do business. Things are not as they used to be, and as the start of this piece suggests, it will take time to go back to normal. Even then, we are starting to understand that the future “normal” will be different from yesterday’s “normal.” Here’s one example that for many companies was unthinkable and is now a reality: working remotely. Many companies are now learning that working “remotely” is a) possible, and b) in some cases, preferable.
All of these changes mean that companies are back at the draft table. Priorities, plans, and strategies are changing. What was critical yesterday, has been downgraded, and things that sounded imaginary are now at the top of the list of priorities.
With all of these changes and disruptions in motion, can you say with great certainty that your company’s product still has a product people need?

Here is a list of valid questions any industry leader or owner should consider right now:

1. What has to be right for your business to prosper?
For a business to succeed, several things have to be true. Take, for example, a detergent company. For such a company to succeed, dirt and filth must exist. Staying clean has to be a priority for most people. There has to be access to make soap. This typical soap company will need to change, as well. Think about your company. What “truths” needed to exist for your product to be successful before COVID-19? Which of these truths has COVID-19 changed? There may be easy fixes you can deploy to meet these new gaps. You may need to reconsider more significant changes, or maybe these gaps can help you identify new business opportunities.

2. Stay close to your clients: Your product has users, and your users are affected by COVID-19. Understand what is changing in the world today. Learn how they plan to respond to these changes. Under these settings, and considering their changing priorities, does your product still have a need? What gaps begin to open between your product offering and the new preferences of your end-users? As before, it’s time to fix, pivot, and jump on a unique and better opportunity.

3. What are your focus abilities? Companies build, ship, and service-specific products. The exciting thing is that by doing so, companies also develop unique skills. Sometimes, the skills are more sustainable and vital than the products they support. If, by taking the above steps, you will realize that your products are not needed, have an honest look at your core capabilities. Consider what the market needs and how your core capabilities can serve as a portal for identifying new opportunities.

The world is changing today, and we must change with it. Take an in-depth, solid look at the products or the service you are providing. Follow your stars, set your products on the right path, and, by doing so, regain the resources your business requires.

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