As the business world continues to recover from the COVID pandemic, small business owners are showing shifts in focus that have helped them survive in recent years. Small business owners say sales remain a major challenge, but marketing has taken precedence over the past two years.
The results of a recent BizSugar survey shed light on how small business priorities have changed over the past two years. In the 2021-2022 Small Business Challenges survey, small business owners show a greater need for sales, focus on marketing, and business disruption strategies compared to a similar 2019 survey.
Impact of the pandemic on small businesses
In the survey, conducted between October 2021 and February 2022, more than 1,300 respondents answered questions about the challenges their small business faces. These responses were compared with a similar survey also conducted on the Zoho platform between October and December 2019. The differences paint a chilling picture of how the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect small businesses.
“The survey results told a pandemic story,” said Ivana Taylor, a small business marketing expert who reviewed the survey results. “They talked about working remotely in the challenges. The research revealed the nuances faced by small business owners during the pandemic. †
While sales and marketing remain the biggest challenge for respondents in the new survey, concerns about marketing were higher than in 2019. 43% of respondents for 2021-2022 say that marketing is their biggest challenge, compared to 30 % in 2019.
Meanwhile, the number who say selling is their biggest challenge has fallen from 42% in 2019 to 32% in 2021-2022. According to Taylor, this signals a shift in priorities among small business owners, who have previously focused on selling as much as possible. Marketing and the technology used to support marketing strategies had been put on the back burner as brands focused on their customers.
Then brick-and-mortar businesses around the world were forced to close their doors and much of commerce came to a near standstill in early 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic gave small business owners a chance to re-evaluate their challenges and, in the absence of customers, focus their time on new efforts.
“The shift from a sales to a marketing focus represents the crazy jump of customer acquisition during the pandemic,” explains Taylor.
43% of small business owners say marketing is their biggest challenge after the pandemic
Suddenly, small business owners were working remotely and needed the technology they were ignoring. While 40% of respondents said marketing was the area of their business that needed the most attention in 2019, that number dropped to 30% in 2021-2022. At the same time, more respondents indicated that they should focus on customer service after the pandemic.
The BizSugar survey also shows how small business owners survived the pandemic by shifting spending priorities. When asked what they would do with $10,000 in excess cash, respondents were most likely to spend the windfall on marketing efforts, on their websites or by investing the money.
“The pandemic taught them they needed to have access to cash – if they had 10K – yes, marketing and sales investments were top notch – but so did investing and risk diversification,” Taylor says. “Small businesses recognize that they need to protect their money through cryptocurrency investment, diversification and technology investment.”
When asked what they liked least about running a business, survey participants expressed their disdain for marketing, implementing processes, and management tasks. These answers indicate that the focus of small business owners is still on their products, services and customers.
“Small businesses have never really liked sales and marketing – but the pandemic has made them hate sales and marketing – they like the things they do in their business, they like interacting with customers – they don’t like the mechanics running a business – it’s a completely different skill set – and they hated having to focus on the administrative side of running a business like that,” Taylor explains.
The BizSugar survey also shows that not only have small business hirings recovered in the wake of Covid-19, but have also increased from pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, 40% of respondents defined themselves as solopreneur. By 2021, that number had halved.
Nearly twice as many respondents say they would hire help to undertake a major initiative. According to Taylor, this change is the result of small business owners venturing into uncharted waters. They had to hire and get help to transfer their business successfully and survive the pandemic.
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This post Ivana Taylor on the impact of the pandemic on small businesses was original published at “https://smallbiztrends.com/2022/05/impact-of-the-pandemic-on-small-businesses.html”