NEW YORK — One in five small business owners came frighteningly close to shuttering their business for good during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new survey polled 1,000 small business executives to analyze the impact the pandemic had on their businesses and how they’re planning to recover moving forward.
Three in four respondents agree the past year was the hardest they’ve ever had in business. Those challenges include dealing with decreased sales (46%), fewer customers (42%), and lower production (37%). Two in five small business executives had to take a pay cut to keep their companies afloat during COVID. Other areas bosses cut down on in 2020 include the cost of supplies (40%) and marketing budgets (37%).
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of GotPrint, researchers find these struggles also led to some important business lessons. Specifically, four in five learned to use more resourceful business techniques over the last year.
Those new techniques involve handling multiple roles on their own (58%), cutting costs (46%), and working from home or a less expensive space (42%). The pandemic has been quite the learning experience, though, with respondents saying the most important thing COVID taught them is to always have a backup plan in case of emergencies.
Other small businesses owners add they’ve learned to roll with the punches and that nothing can replace the loyalty of appreciative customers. Even so, 58 percent still report they’re having a hard time making ends meet in this economy. That’s especially true for the 84 percent who feel like they wear several hats, such as being their own human resources, operations, and customer service representatives.
As a result, more than two-thirds of business execs (69%) feel overwhelmed in the current economic climate.
“Over the past year and a half, even in our larger-scale business, we faced great challenges, forcing us to evaluate and regroup on a daily basis,” says Raymond Hartoonian, Vice President of GotPrint, in a statement. “As a team, we learned to manage turning on a dime when needed – whether that be in regard to marketing strategies, production methods, employee safety, etc.”
Big future ahead for small business owners?
Small business owners are troopers however, with 40 percent still having high hopes of growing their business and the same amount who say they actually enjoy the grunt work of owning a business. That’s why 41 percent aren’t shying away, even knowing that their brand needs a revamp after the pandemic.
Instead, many are committing to increasing their brand’s social media presence (46%), growing their list of services (35%), and learning new skills (31%) to keep customers coming. The average business owner would spend $2,300 on a marketing plan if it would strengthen their business following, but many are hesitant to invest in one because of the cost (40%), lack of resources (34%), or lack of knowledge about where to start (26%).
“Although some may be hesitant to put money or effort towards marketing, the results will ultimately be a long-term investment for your business. Having the ability to connect with and understand your customers is a valuable trait,” says Richard Allen, Jr., Head of Marketing for GotPrint. “The way customers engage and respond to your marketing efforts will give you a better sense of direction on next steps to see where certain strategies can take your business.”