5 Creative Bottom Line Boosters for Q4 2021

Many small businesses closed permanently in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and 2021 has been a year of great struggle for many other companies. The challenges have included quarantine, the economic downturn, the shortage of human resources, operating restrictions due to COVID-19, and the fast changes in technology. Altogether, these obstacles have put extreme pressure on small businesses to rapidly adapt and meet their markets’ unique demands born of difficult circumstances. Here, we’ll look at 5 major trends that have emerged in small businesses’ responses to the challenges, to offer some ideas you may be interested in applying to your plans for Q4 2021 and 2022.

2021-2022 Strategies for Boosting Small Business Revenues

Small businesses have had to think fast in developing out-of-the-box strategies just to sustain semi-normal operations in their respective industries over the past year and a half. They’ve also faced the need to offset COVID-related losses and somehow even stimulate some growth under the odd circumstances of 2020-2021.
Numerous strategies have been helping many small US businesses regroup and thrive in the late 2021 business environment, such as one of these or combinations of two or more of these approaches:

• Creating or stocking new physical products
• Affiliate marketing (your business earns a percentage of sales on others’ products carried through your site or your sales efforts)
• Strengthening the online presence to shield from local downturns and broaden the customer base
• Seeking more creative financing options
• Expanding to new markets
• Increasing focus on customer retention using exciting strategies
• Making employee policies more flexible

1. Soft Expansion Into New Markets

Of course, one way to overcome reduced sales, if you have the means for it, is to reach outward into surrounding market areas, expanding your pool of prospects. In the portable restroom rental industry, since delivery of facilities and services is a matter of driving, a solution may be found for many small operators in driving long distances to serve customers. This may be an especially effective option for operators whose local market areas are within reasonable proximity to other major markets or underserved small regional markets.

2. Fully or Partially Shifting to Online Operations

Amid all the chaos and loss across the global business sector over the COVID period to date, the e-commerce industry has grown. That makes sense since so much of business life necessarily fell to the web during the quarantine. But, so many small businesses may yet have recognized their practical reasons and ways to push as much of their operations as possible to the internet. Most businesses can and should find a way to cash in on the shift to online interaction.

The web is where your customers do everything now. So, even if your industry does not lend itself to predominately web-based communications and general operations, maintaining a competitive online presence is key to a sound future. It can help protect your company from future quarantines as well as from vacillations in the local and national economy, by expanding your access to a much broader market base.

If you don’t sell products directly from your website, in the portable restroom industry there are many great ways to engage your target consumers online. Consider offering a hybrid model of your services that integrates web functions with conventional services handled in person at your location and your customers’ sites.

Your web operations may include:
• Communications
• Account information portals
• Scheduling options
• Video demonstrations
• Inventory display and selection options
• Informational blog content
• FAQs
• Valuable back-linked references to other services they may want
• Much more

Additionally, take advantage of affiliate marketing opportunities, to earn a percentage of sales other companies make to customers who access their products through your site.

3. More Flexible Employee Policies

The shutdowns and slashed business hours during 2020-2021 induced many businesses to offer their employees flex scheduling. Others switched to hiring part-time staff and utilizing independent contractor services instead of hiring full-time employees to offset the alarming attrition rates resulting from the shutdown and economic strain.
It can be very difficult to keep even the best relationships you’ve worked to build with good employees during such times of prolonged uncertainty. Some solutions that have been popular over the past year have included.

• Permitting staff members to work remotely for as many hours as possible.
• Reevaluate the employee benefits program. Paid time off became a higher priority benefit during 2020-2021 than in the past.
• Offer flexible work schedules. With so much to manage in their personal lives to maneuver their families each day through the quarantine requirements and shortages and meet their altered job responsibilities, flexible work hours made a big difference in stress levels and job satisfaction rates at many companies.
Providing clear communications and offering as much advance notice of changes in hours and emerging conditions in the business due to shifting national and local circumstances is strongly recommended. This simple policy was key to maintaining relative calm for many companies that have successfully navigated the business environment of 2021.

4. Laser Focus on Customer Retention

Emphasis on customer retention becomes more intense and finely focused for businesses that succeed during economic downturns. There are various proven strategies for increasing retention rates. For example, automatically registering current customers for continuing repeat services and products. Some typical ways service businesses do this successfully include:

• Rewards programs, loyalty incentives, and repeat customer discount programs
• Offering membership status that provides exclusive service or ancillary product benefits for repeat customers
• Subscription service for your rental products. It seems that anything sold or rented these days can be found offered by subscription.
• Referral incentive programs for customers who provide prospect contact information.
• Renewal service incentives to regenerate older inactive accounts that your team can work to cultivate new activity.
• Offering expanded services to existing customers, or exclusive discounts on supplementary services.

5. Seeking More Creative Financing Options

To sustain operations or generate growth, you may need to become more creative than in the past in your efforts to locate funding for your 2022 plans. Here are some options you may not yet have considered:

• Invoice and AR Funding: For any type of business with existing customers who pay by invoices, this option can boost cash flow immediately, vs. waiting to receive income incrementally as customers pay their invoices.
• Emergency Funding: Find out if you are eligible for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program. Contact your local SBA representative for detailed information on this and other loans for small businesses.
• Crowdfunding: This has become a common approach to generating business funding in the U.S. and elsewhere. Using crowdfunding resources through websites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter continues to increase in popularity. This can be an especially attractive approach if your company has innovated a product or service that can disrupt your industry.
• Microloans: This kind of loan can offer an excellent opportunity for businesses that currently don’t qualify for conventional loans. Microloans are issued for small business loan amounts, typically for a maximum of around $50,000, and the loan proceeds can be used for any business purpose(s).

Be Prepared For Contingencies

Going into Q4 2021 and looking ahead to 2022, few are purporting to foretell the outcome of the COVID-effect on the business sector. Learning from the experience of 2020-2021, however, everyone can recognize the need to be prepared for anything going forward.

Generally, it is acknowledged that the smartest approach for businesses of any size is to make your company as agile as possible — prepared to pivot as needed at any time. No business owner can safely presume to predict future public health conditions or other potentially changing realities or the economic reactions to such conditions.

Therefore, all operators are best advised to continuously reassess even their most closely held assumptions and stay open to new potentialities and options for managing them.

Sources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2021/02/08/small-business-trends-you-need-to-know-about-for-2021/?sh=5a7b89e8d6d2

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