When the 2008 financial crisis hit, Warren Buffet wrote to his investors that “you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” Fast forward to 2020, and the tide has gone out again. This time the tide has gone out on small businesses, not financial institutions. To be fair, the pandemic has affected all people, all industries and all types of businesses, but small businesses are among the hardest hit. If you own a small business, you’ve no doubt been greatly affected by COVID-19. The question is, when the tide went out, were you caught swimming naked? This time around, we’re not talking about your finances, but about your online presence.
We’ve seen COVID-19 expose three types of small business owners in relation to their online presence. But before we dive into the three types, let’s quickly define your online presence. If you have a small business, your online presence is your website and anywhere else online where people find, learn about and engage with your business. Specifically, it can include your blog, social media profiles, and online listings like Google My Business, Yelp, Houzz, Next Door, industry directories, and local directories with your Chamber of Commerce, for example.
Now that you know what we’re talking about when we say “online presence,” let’s take a look at the three types of business owners COVID-19 has exposed:
1. Ahead of the Curve
These small business owners have diligently prioritized their online presence day in and day out. They didn’t miss a beat when the pandemic hit. They were perfectly positioned to keep their already-engaged customers up to date with their latest business developments. While COVID-19 has hit these businesses just like everyone else, and they could not have foreseen the events of 2020, they were covered when the tide went out.
2. Riding the Wave
These small business owners were exposed when the tide went out, but they quickly adapted. They embraced COVID-19 as an opportunity to build out or tighten up their online presence. The shutdowns were a reality check for them and they rode the wave of change to quickly catch up. We’ve seen a lot of innovation come from our clients in this group as they quickly realized their long-term survival depended on embracing change.
3. Reopening Right
These small business owners found themselves completely exposed when the tide went out. They hadn’t given their online presence much thought before COVID-19. They were not in a good position to ride the first wave of change as the shutdowns began. They were preoccupied with day-to-day survival issues like personnel, payroll and bills when the pandemic first hit. The last thing they could think about was updating their online presence. But they have survived…and now they are ready to reopen right. They’ve seen the flip-side of a strong online presence and are determined to finally give theirs the attention it needs.
So which group are you in? If you were ahead of the curve, kudos to you. Your diligent investments in your online presence long before this year have no doubt paid off for you. If you rode the wave of change to catch your online presence up to today’s reality, nice work. Entrepreneurs who survive make a practice of owning their mistakes and adjusting accordingly. It’s been a bumpy ride this year, but you (and your business) will come out better on the other side. Finally, if you were caught swimming naked, as Warren Buffet would say, but you’re determined to reopen right, hats off to you. Owning your present reality and taking decisive steps to address it will help ensure not only the survival but also the long-term success of your small business.
Every day, we work with small businesses across the country who are ahead of the curve. We’ve also seen many dormant clients resurface throughout the year as they embrace the wave of change brought on by COVID-19. Now we’re starting to see the next wave of small business owners surface who are determined to reopen right. If you’re in that group, we would love to hear from you. We suggest you start here with a free call with Sarah, our Owner & Small Business Brand Strategist. She’ll review your current online presence ahead of the call. Then she’ll let you know what steps you need to take to reopen right with a strong online presence designed to help (re)grow your business.