The pandemic, with the many uncertainties and the fast-paced changes that are arising as we emerge from it, has presented owners of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) with a vast array of new challenges. And opportunities.
Among the 100+ business owners that I have spoken with over the past couple of months, two common themes have come up:
- First, some businesses are overwhelmed with work and are having trouble keeping up. This is primarily driven by the sharp recent uptick in the economy that took owners by surprise. Furthermore, some businesses took on customers in 2020 that they normally wouldn’t have taken on but did so because business was soft. Those clients are now being served at a great opportunity cost.
- Second, some business owners—including many of the overwhelmed ones mentioned above—are having a lot of trouble filling open positions. Retailers I know are really struggling with this, but it is affecting many industries, even for higher-paying jobs (including those unaffected by the extra unemployment pay).
As a brand trying to engage SMBs, it’s important for you to understand their mindset and what they’re thinking about, and worrying about, most. What’s keeping them up at night? What do they need guidance on, or insight into, most at this moment in time?
We recently reached out to several business owners across a wide range of industries in my network and asked some timely questions. Two of them: What’s the top challenge you’re facing right now as we emerge from the pandemic? And what’s the top opportunity you see for your business?
Here’s how they responded to both questions:
What’s the top challenge you’re facing right now?
- “Rebuilding/reinventing our marketing.” —Shawn Busse, founder and CEO, Kinesis
- “Replacing the cash flow lost due to the pandemic.” —Jonathan B. Kramer, president and CEO, Progressive Payment Solutions
- “Keeping up with demand. As a business that connects business owners with virtual assistants, this past year has taught us that working virtually is extremely practical, cost effective and here to stay. With so many businesses understanding this shift, we needed to increase our recruiting process without negatively affecting the quality of our VAs.” —Andrew Cohen, co-founder and CEO, Work Better Now
- “We’re an events business. As the economy comes back to life, there’s a lot of supply chain and travel uncertainty.” —Lewis Schiff, chairman, Birthing of Giants
- “Finding and retaining great longer-term employees. Everyone seems to either be shifting careers or locations, not wanting to come to the office to become part of the existing culture.” —Shlomo Birnbaum, CEO, Single Serve Beverage Distribution
- “The ‘COVID crutch.’ While the pandemic devastated many industries, every delay, missed deadline and unpaid bill is due to COVID. It’s becoming the excuse.” —Raymond Carile, President, Carlile Development Group
- “We’re a concert promoter. While concerts are beginning to resume this summer, there are still many questions about capacity, social distancing, proof of vaccine requirements, etc. Since we go into many venues throughout the country, we are finding a patchwork of precautions and strategies on how best to open back up. While we are excited to get back into our core business of promoting concerts, we are not diving in 100% at this point till we have more clarity.” —Howie Schnee, president, CEG Presents
- “Balancing our growth with client loyalty, service and quality.” —Theresa Caragol, founder and CEO, AchieveUnite
- “Workload and scaling. Over the past 18 months, we have seen very good growth. But as a small business, it’s always difficult to figure out when is the right time to hire that next person. Will the workload continue? Will revenue growth continue? Or will it just dry up one day?” —Gordon Coyle, CEO, The Coyle Group
What’s the top opportunity you see for your business at this point?
- “Shifting to where my industry (beverage distribution) is going and being part of the new supply chain.” —Shlomo Birnbaum
- “There’s a strong likelihood it’s going to be like the Roaring 20s. How can I tap into that momentum and desire from business owners to grow?” —Shawn Busse
- “Concertgoers have been largely stuck indoors for over a year, and there is tremendous demand for live events to return. Once concerts resume and artists are able to tour throughout the country, attendance will be through the roof for a while.” —Howie Schnee
- “Digital marketing. I have amped up my content creation and will continue to scale that with the goal of creating one new YouTube video and blog post per day.” —Gordon Coyle
- “The largest opportunity for us is with a new credit card pricing platform ‘Zero fee credit card processing.’ This program makes it possible for a business to process credit cards at no cost to the company.” —Jonathan B. Kramer
- “Everyone wants to re-invent themselves, their businesses, their careers. As a school that helps people grow in their businesses, we see tremendous appetite to do things in a new way.” —Lewis Schiff
- “Creating big subscription revenue in our portfolio for large clients.” —Theresa Caragol
- “In the short term, at least, opportunity abounds with pent-up savings and demand driving the economy. That said, the winds might be blowing in another direction in 2022.” —Raymond Carile
As you read the above, ask yourself and your team, what is the intersection between these SMB opportunities and challenges with your product’s benefits? Once you understand that, you can create content that will fully engage and resonate with your SMB audience and provide the expertise and insights they need most today to navigate the key challenges and opportunities they’re confronting.
If you’d like to discuss how RSL can help your company better understand the SMB mindset and engage SMBs around the challenges and opportunities they think about most, let’s chat.
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