By Jori Hamilton
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost everyone’s lives. But, businesses have been hit especially hard this year. According to data provided by Yelp, about 60% of the business closures caused by the pandemic will be permanent. While owning any type of small business can be challenging, it’s often harder for minority-owned businesses to stay afloat in certain communities.
Some statistics have already shown that lower-income workers, Black people, Latinos, and other minority groups have been more severely impacted by the social ramifications of the pandemic than others. If you’re in a minority group and you own your own business, that can feel a little disheartening.
So, what can you do to keep your business going throughout this pandemic? How can you not only survive but thrive and grow in a time when everything seems so uncertain?
Be Part of the Conversation
In addition to dealing with a pandemic, this year has brought a lot of unrest when it comes to social justice issues. The Black Lives Matter movement has become more prominent than ever, and though there is still a long way to go, people are talking about these injustices regularly.
It’s not just Black individuals who are getting the attention they deserve. Women have been coming forward in recent years to talk more about the gender wage gap and equality in the workplace. Latinos are getting more attention thanks to the unrest at the Mexico border and some of the practices that are taking place there.
One of the best things you can do, not only as a business owner but as a member of your community, is to be involved in those conversations. Don’t be afraid to promote your business as a minority-run operation. Join the National Minority Business Council for resources if you’re looking for ideas. Get on social media platforms as much as possible to tell your story and explain who you are or the different groups you support. Be clear with your mission and speak up to different councils and programs if they aren’t performing the way you think they should. Surround yourself with key individuals in your community, and give back to your community as much as possible to become a fixture. Those habits can help your business to become more successful, even in times of distress.
Transform Your Business’ Identity
Now might be the perfect time to transform your business for the better. Whether you’re a relatively new business or you’ve been around for years, it’s a good idea to take a look at your business plan. Far too many business owners either don’t have a fully-developed plan, or their plan is too ambitious and not realistic. Unfortunately, that’s a huge mistake that can cost you a lot of success and growth.
Your business plan should include:
- An overview of what your business does
- An operations plan
- Your market analysis
- What products and services you provide
- Marketing strategies
By taking a look at your plan, you can see clearly where changes might need to be made for your business to thrive. Maybe you need to change your branding or marketing. Maybe you need to adjust your projections. Or, you might even consider researching how your current business efforts could tap into other industries. That doesn’t mean you need to completely change what your business does. Rather, think of it as using your creativity to fulfill a need in other markets. In doing so, you can grow your business in new ways. So, don’t be afraid to do your research to determine industries that might go hand-in-hand with what you’re already doing. Tapping into those industries without changing the core of your brand can help you to expand. Some of the top industries for starting a business are:
- In-home care
Consider how your business might tap into some of these other categories. Or, work with another small minority-owned business in one of these industries to start a partnership that people can rely on.
Keep Your Finances in Order
The biggest struggle so many business owners are facing because of the pandemic is a loss of funds. Whether you own a restaurant, retail space, or event center, so many places have had to close or restrict their capacity that you may not even be bringing in enough money to pay your staff, let alone cover your bills. It’s not uncommon for small business owners to be hyper-focused on money coming in and money going out. Strictly managing inventory and cash flow should be two of the primary steps you take if you’re not confident in your current tracking or organization.
When your internal organization, tracking, and inventory are in order, one of the best things you can do right now is to seek out different resources that can offer funding. So many businesses don’t take advantage of the resources offered to them. That can be especially true if you’re a woman running a business. In fact, women own about 40% of new businesses, but less than half of them seek out funding for help. No matter your gender or ethnic background or what struggles you might think you’ll face, it never hurts to ask for help from the government, your community, or even family and friends.
Additionally, you might consider finding ways to cut costs without having to lose the heart of your business. One way to do that is to modernize and go digital as much as possible. For example, you might have better luck in your marketing strategy if you focus on your digital impact rather than spending money on billboards and commercials. You can also work on cutting production costs and working with your suppliers to either reduce your expenses, or you can shop for different vendors.
When you’re a minority business owner, you might already feel like the deck is stacked against you. But, the social climate of the country is changing. As long as you make smart business decisions throughout this pandemic and show pride in what you do, you’ll have a better chance of seeing it through and coming out more successful on the other side.
Bio: Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in topics related to politics, urban living, society, and health. If you’d like to learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.