How small businesses can survive a COVID holiday season

As disruptions last into the holiday, small businesses need to rethink their usual approach

by The AT&T Business Editorial Staff

As we approach the holiday season, COVID-19 remains a prevalent force in our world. While these next few months are usually a time of great opportunity and revenue for small businesses, it’s likely that social distancing guidelines and a weary consumer base will persist through the end of the year. This has many small businesses worried that what is often their most profitable time may not be as fruitful as they need, especially after such a tough year.

But just as small businesses had to adapt quickly to the rapidly shifted market due to COVID-19, they now need to reconsider how they approach this holiday season.

Technology has emerged as the clear winner in helping small businesses survive. It’s proven to be the backbone of every business in this time of crises. Remote working tools, new online storefronts, contactless ordering and shipping – these are just a few tech solutions that many owners of today’s surviving small businesses used to pivot.

AT&T Business recently released a series of webinars featuring Barbara Corcoran, founder of the Corcoran Group and “Shark” on ABC’s Shark Tank. In this series, titled “Smart Advice for Small Business,” Barbara discusses with many small business owners the ways they were able to adapt and grow during COVID-19. She also shares  Five Tips for Small Business Owners in a short, informative video. As we approach the holidays, we want to reflect on some of the key takeaways from these discussions. We want to shine a light on how small businesses owners can use these takeaways to maybe bring in a little more “holiday cheer” despite the circumstances. 

3 ways small businesses can prepare for a COVID holiday season:

  1. Be comfortable with taking risks – don’t rely on the same holiday season tactics
    To succeed in today’s new business environment, small business owners have to be more comfortable with taking risks. Many need to abandon their old, rigid ways of approaching the market. In-store deals and draws won’t be as effective, because customers have shifted preferences and priorities.

    Every business owner needs to ask themselves, “If this were my first holiday season, how would I approach it?”

    Do you have an infrastructure in place for curbside service? Will your online shopping portal be able to handle the influx of orders? Do you need to adjust your traditional advertising and marketing plan to reach your usual customers? How can you appeal to new customers?

    All these questions need to be addressed to ensure your business is equipped to handle a COVID-19 holiday season.

  2. Invest in the right technology
    As we covered, the answer to many of the above questions are rooted in technology solutions. Businesses that have relied heavily on their storefronts in the past need to investigate tools and applications that expand their outreach and serve customers in new ways.

    • Mobility and empowering remote workforcesAlmost any business that has made it this far has been able to adapt their workforce to adhere to social distancing guidelines. But, for many, the busiest time of the year is yet to come. Small businesses need to ensure they have the right tools in place for remote or distanced employees to perform when business surges. Mobile management tools, like AT&T AccessMyLAN, can help provide highly secure and reliable remote working environments. This enables mobile workers to quickly access company documents, business critical applications, and intranet services in a time when they need them most.
    • eCommerce and online shopping Many businesses need to reassess whether their ecommerce platforms can handle what could be their most demanding period yet. An online storefront service can help businesses build a shopping site or help ensure their current one is ready to handle high demand this holiday season.
  3. Align yourself with a knowledgeable provider
    The most important thing for small business owners to remember is that you don’t have to go through this alone. Technology providers, like AT&T Business, can work with you to help you understand how to use technology, while providing resources for learning and support, and offering the kinds of solutions your business needs to keep moving forward.

The time to prepare for the holidays is now

It’s a difficult time for small businesses. One of the best things you can do is simply reach out to technology experts and have a discussion. Together you can figure out what your customers need and what technology can help you satisfy those needs.

No one could have foreseen COVID-19 and just how long the lingering effects after its initial impact would last. But, one thing is certain – technology is what is going to keep businesses together and moving forward. Whether your business needs Wi-Fi and network solutions for supporting contactless service or a workforce management platform for adhering to new demand, the time is now to seek the solutions that will allow you to adapt to a COVID holiday season.

AT&T Business is taking every step to help during this extraordinary, heightened time of need. Please reach out if you need any services or devices to help your organization, or if we can help answer any questions. If you’d like to know more about how small businesses are using technology to adapt to change, please visit our small business solutions page.