The challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic hardships in Ogden can make last year a difficult year to look back on. Nearly half of small business owners surveyed in the last Wells Fargo Small Business Index reported decreases in revenues, while the prospect of closing their business was most frequently ranked as the top concern. Nonetheless, even the most challenging times in Utah can yield opportunities for the future.
Nearly one third (29%) of businesses planned to start using a website last year. Luckily for those that followed through on that plan, having a strong online presence, user experience and functionality can not only be a competitive advantage in Ogden but also critical to a business’s survival. Eighty-six percent of consumers rely on the internet to find a local business. With a well-rounded digital strategy, including a website and social media, Utah business owners can build awareness and leverage how people are searching for information online. Further, ensuring a positive user experience with these channels can help set up an environment for business growth.
Take advantage of digital banking
Online and mobile banking can help business owners monitor and manage their accounts from anywhere and make analyzing cash flow easier. In fact, 73% of small businesses utilize these services, according to Barlow Research. What last year exhibited was the ability of this functionality to help in preparing for uncertain circumstances, such as not being able to visit a physical bank branch for an extended period. Utilizing tools like these can provide extra insurance against potential challenges that may arise.
Check your tech
Almost one third (29%) of business owners said last year that the closure of their business was their top concern, while 57% said they did not anticipate recovery for businesses like theirs until at least the second half of 2021. With recent surges in COVID-19 cases, one key thing Ogden business owners can do to withstand these challenges and to help safeguard negative impacts to the business down the line is to ensure the right technology is fully utilized to serve operations, including sufficient internet bandwidth and wireless capabilities.
Join a professional organization
Networking can help Ogden small business owners through crises like COVID-19 and help facilitate a potential reset or even rebuilding of a business in the coming year. Whether it’s joining the Ogden-Weber Chamber of Commerce, a networking group or an online or social media-based community, networking groups can provide ideas and resources for growth and may also help with recruiting talent, finding vendors or even generating sales.
Create a plan B and a plan C
The possibility of not seeing strong economic or business recovery until at least mid-2021 in Utah highlights the importance of planning for multiple scenarios. Having a backup plan for each area of your business, from sales to operations to marketing, will help mitigate potential negative impacts of unforeseen circumstances.
One key thing to remember is the lesson that permeates all of the others listed here: Flexibility is key. Planning is as important as ever, but the ability to shift those plans based on the realities of a situation could make the difference between continuing toward recovery or facing a business closing.
Matt Bloye is a region bank president for Wells Fargo in Utah.