Being Resilient and Agile Helps Independent Retailers Succeed
Independent businesses have proven they can be flexible and innovative when dealing with a growing list of challenges. While the health impact of the pandemic has dramatically subsided, the residual effects, such as supply chain disruptions, rampant inflation, and a shortage of skilled workers, remain. Main Street small-and-medium size businesses (SMBs) are the fuel that fires economic growth.
While 99.9 percent of new ventures ultimately fail. Those companies that survive create a new legacy and redefine the scope of American business. Here are some exciting details shared by the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) about the significant impact of small businesses on the national economy.
- Companies with 500 employers or fewer make up 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses.
- Small businesses are 99.7 percent of organizations with paid employees
- Sixty-two percent of the jobs created between 1995 and 2020 were due to small businesses
- (12.7 million vs. 7.9 million for large enterprises)
- In 2019, SMBs accounted for 44 percent of U.S. economic activity.
Strategies to Success
Rapid changes in society and technological advances are compelling retailers to move their organizations to agile business models to achieve goals quickly and adapt to new situations. When commenting on the lingering effect of the pandemic in an SMB-TV series, Mark Madrid, head of the Office of Entrepreneurship for the SBA, says, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime event. When you take into account the pandemic and now the surging prices, what they’re doing is pivoting. They’re being more agile. They’re talking about ‘Made in the USA’ to defeat supply chain vulnerability. And they’re thinking about 2023. I’ve never seen that spirit of planning more so than today.”
Support Flexible Payment Options
Retailers have become more flexible and now offer consumers more payment options. This includes traditional credit and debit cards, buy now, pay later, mobile payments, Apple pay, and Digital Wallet. The point is to eliminate barriers that could prevent closing a sale. Companies that can adapt to consumers’ changing behavior will continue to thrive.
Ed Hallett, senior director of SMB PayPal, says, “When you’ve done everything necessary to get a customer to that point of purchasing, you’ve done 95 percent of the work, and you’ve probably spent a bit of money and time getting them to that point, make sure you give the customer the flexibility of payment options to close the deal.”
Leverage Government-sponsored Resources
The SBA encourages entrepreneurs to utilize the resources designed to support small businesses. As Mark Madrid noted, “Small businesses don’t take a holiday break.” During the televised presentation, Madrid highlighted the list of services offered by the SBA.
- :1,000 Small Business Development Centers
- 150 women’s business centers
- The SCORE program with 10,000 volunteer business mentors
- 250 SBA chapters across the country
Be Customer First
Good communication is essential to know what products customers prefer to buy. It’s also the best way to maintain a solid relationship with loyal shoppers. Recommending certain products, asking questions, and sending an e-mail or text can go a long way toward staying connected. Sometimes retailers think it’s almost impossible to keep up with consumers’ demands—they want it all. But the key is to have a customer-first attitude and help provide solutions for their home maintenance and repair problems. Isabella Guzman, SBA Administrator suggestion to retailers is “to be more customer first, technology forward, and to advance equity.’