When the coronavirus forced the world to shut down in March for safety reasons, nobody could have predicted its impact on the world economy. With thousands of small businesses already lost, it is estimated that millions more will not survive or recover from the impact of the pandemic. According to a report by McKinsey, up to 30 million SMEs are at risk in the United States. Across the pond in the UK, in a survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics, 63% of businesses that responded to the survey reported having lower than normal turnover with 40% planning on laying off their staff. As bleak as it may seem, some businesses have adapted to our new reality and are having even higher turnovers than they did before the crisis.
Utility Bidder recently launched a campaign aimed at educating SMEs titled ‘Businesses Surviving Lockdown: What History Taught Us and Our 3 Social Media Survival Tips’. It’s a study of how some successful brands adapted past crisis.
Today we know the Apple brand as an innovative tech company with cool gadgets. But that wasn’t always the case. In October 2002, the tech industry was almost wiped out by the dot-com bubble burst. When co-founder Steve Jobs returned to the company, he refocused the company on innovation and came up with the first iPod. Even with Jobs passing, Apple has continued on the path to becoming the most valuable brand name.
In its early days, Alibaba was a small business that linked Chinese suppliers to US customers. In 2003, the SARS virus, much like COVID-19, forced China to go into lockdown. In a matter of months, co-founder Jack Ma created Taobao.com, a platform that remotely connects businesses directly to customers. The innovation created the model that many e-commerce businesses use today.
The oil embargo of the 1970s crippled many businesses and impacted the US economy severely. While many people were struggling to even fuel their cars due to fuel scarcity, FedEx kickstarted its courier operation by guaranteeing overnight deliveries to anywhere within the US. The massive success of this campaign created a new standard for courier services and e-commerce businesses.
What We Have Learned
History tells us that there will always be one crisis or another. Whether it is the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, the SARS epidemic of 2003, or the coronavirus pandemic of 2019, every business should put a health code system in place to protect its employees and customers against diseases.
Businesses should not shy away from economic or health challenges as they will always come to pass. Instead, SMEs should focus on automating as many business operations as possible, keeping customers updated through social media, being authentic, and creative.
Following Utility Bidder’s campaign will not only save your business the cost of operation but it will also help in ensuring that your business survives any crisis. You should build a strong connection with your customers even if nobody is buying due to the lockdown. Your customers will reward you when the storm passes.