Crisis Advice: Small Business Edition

Crisis Advice and Digital Marketing: Small Business Edition Pt. 1 – Introduction

Looking at the new normal from COVID-19’s economic impact, going digital is no longer an option. Every company, especially our small businesses, must make the difficult but essential transition to this “new normal”.

We published a piece last week on Some of the Best Crisis Advice We’ve Seen, Heard, or Thought of until that point in time. That advice was for companies like ours, who were already following digital best-practices like remote-work. But what about the restaurants, barbers, and our neighbourhood coffee shop?

This article clarifies why small businesses are so crucial to the economy, why we at Periphery are focused on creating content for them, and how they can begin the transition into digital sales and marketing. It’s also only part one of a series that will clarify different steps in the process in the coming weeks.

A Responsibility to the Economy

When we took a good look at our business situation, our clients’ situations, and the economy, we realized a new strategy. You may have noticed how our content has recently pivoted to address COVID-19’s economic impact. That’s been the first part of realizing this strategy, and this series is another. 

While Periphery Digital works with real-estate developers, retailers like Harry Rosen, and “bigger” companies, we have not forgotten who purchases from our clients: everyday consumers.

The crux of the issue is this: 

If everyday consumers are not working and earning, they obviously can’t continue purchasing from our clients. If that’s the case, how are these clients going to continue paying for our services? Every b2b company, including agencies and studios, needs to consider this question. 

Our new responsibility is to use our expertise as a digital agency, to help consumers contribute to the overall economy. We are well-positioned to help, and we will do so (even if none of these people/companies would become our clients). 

So as we created a new series about what small businesses can do right now, through COVID-19’s impact, we identified this as “flattening the economic curve” as the key activity. 

This begs the question, why focus on small businesses instead of everyday consumers?

The Ever-Important Small Business Community

A small business is a very important node of economic activity. Wagepoint (referencing Statistics Canada) clarifies just how important small businesses are to our economy:

  • 9/10 Canadians in the private sector work for small businesses. 
  • Micro-enterprises (firms with 1-4 employees) represent 53.8% of all private employers. 
  • 69.7% of the labour force is employed by small businesses
  • This group contributes approximately 38.4% of Canada’s GDP. 

Small businesses spend on equipment, ingredients, services; and most importantly, they hire people. That’s why working to ensure the success of our local small businesses is so important. It’s also why we hope this article is shared with small business owners who may need it. 

This strategy focuses on small businesses because consumers are likely to earn their income from working for such companies. It’s also why we hope future articles in this series – that cover the specifics – are shared with business owners who need it. 

Once people will go back to work and continue earning money, we can jumpstart the economy. Businesses that are already thriving in the digital space should also consider flattening the economic curve a new responsibility. 

Even if we’re not necessarily getting paid for it, the more we all contribute to getting small businesses back on track, the sooner we can produce economic growth.

“Going Digital” through COVID-19

To clarify, we define a “traditional business” as a business that earns the majority of its revenue through in-person transactions and/or the in-person fulfillment of services. 

An example is a restaurant that seats guests and serves them meals while inside the restaurant. This includes a restaurant that delivers, but cannot accept online payments (payments are taken by the delivery person at your door). Although the latter is preferred, COVID-19 is a time where “touchless” is best. 

This definition can already help us understand what it means to go digital: taking payments online; and, fulfilling the service without having to see or interact with the buyer. 

“Going Digital” is defined as the process of moving to this state of doing business without having to see or interact with the buyer in-person. 

Let’s aim to have every small business become – at least until The Recovery – a “touchless” business that has completed the process of Going Digital.  

There are already several guides online that cover the details of how to do so; however, none of them (that we found) are written in the context of COVID-19. That is why we have created this series of steps to help traditional businesses who are now going digital.

Our Overview of the Steps

To avoid this becoming a needlessly complicated series and guide, we will focus on three steps. 

  • 1. Set yourself up to collect online payments.
  • 2. Create a website (or just a single webpage) to sell your product or service.
  • 3. Create and act on a crisis communications strategy (specific to that particular small business). 

These steps will help small business owners get started. Of course, there is much content already available for further details on the internet. We intend to clarify the first steps.

Each step will share the significant service-providers who can help with that particular function. We will also highlight lessons learned and advice we have from our experience and hope you enjoy this series as it unfolds. 

Final Words

We will be updating this post with the most recent links as they are released.

Here is a list of future articles in the series: 

Our hope is this will help struggling small businesses earn enough revenue to at least cover their costs, and remain in business until The Recovery.

For more information and resources, please see our following articles: