In 2020, it seemed like most small businesses were in danger of closing. The COVID-19 pandemic put most of the world into lockdown. While those closures and other safety measures helped curb the spread of the virus in a lot of places, it also meant a lot of small businesses had a hard time staying open.
But this wasn’t true for all small businesses. In fact, startups—the smallest businesses of all—saw a bona fide boom in growth during the pandemic. According to census data, 2020 numbers for starting a new business shattered 2019’s numbers by 95% in the United States.
So, what does this all mean? What can you learn from these startups and plug into your own business, in order to become more resilient?
We’ve got some ideas about why startups boomed during the pandemic. Today, we’ll talk about those reasons:
- Startups are open to remote and hybrid workforces
- Startups use technology to make their work easier
- Startups know an online presence isn’t optional
- Startups bake customer satisfaction into their business model
Just want the highlights? Skip to our Lessons Learned section.
🚀 The top components of successful startups: Does your team have them all?
Because so many startups are high-tech focused, they understand that remote and hybrid work are bound to be the new normal, with the pandemic giving this way of working a real push.
But it’s more than simply accepting the writing on the wall. Startups are leveraging the real benefits of remote and hybrid work to their advantage. For one, people now know most jobs can be done remotely, and many want to maintain that flexibility even when the pandemic fades. If businesses are arbitrarily rigid with their in-office requirements, they’re bound to lose employees to more agile companies who offer a better work-life balance to their team members.
Another huge benefit of embracing remote work: your talent pool expands from a tight radius around your office doors to, well, the entire planet. Startups know that the best fit for their needs might not always be around the corner. The ability to recruit and hire remote employees means a lot more choice of key talent.
While a lot of businesses might have been using cloud technology to some degree already, many of them had to change their entire operations, essentially overnight when lockdowns and other safety measures started rolling in. The more quickly a business pivoted to fully online operations, the better chance it stood in staying open.
Luckily, today there are all kinds of tools to help teams communicate with each other at a distance. These cloud communications apps bring together all of your team’s conversations and meetings into one online space. That means everything is organized and recorded, and nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
One stellar example of a cloud communications app: RingCentral. You get all of your internal and external phone calls handled by the cloud, plus team chat and video conferencing. All of these features live in one app that’s easy to install and navigate:
When was the last time you updated your website? Posted something on one of your social media channels? If COVID-19 taught us anything about running a business, it’s that an online presence is absolutely essential.
Since a lot of startups are in the high-tech space, many of them knew this lesson before COVID hit, and it’s probably a big reason why so many startups survived and thrived when everyone had to go digital. So if you haven’t already revamped your online storefront or made social media more of a priority, now might be the time.
P.S. Are you advertising your startup business online? You probably should be!
Small business owners already know: every single customer matters. It’s more expensive to cultivate new customers than it is to retain existing customers, so it’s important to prioritize the customer experience.
Today, this is even more true. Now that we know most businesses can make it possible for customers to do just about anything online and without a ton of friction, it’s expected. How easy a business can make the customer experience is more important than how much a product or service costs.
Startups have the benefit of being new to the game, which means they can weave this kind of knowledge into their business’s DNA. If you were to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, where would you see room to make things easier for them? What’s holding you back from implementing that change?
Now that we know why startups boomed while other businesses struggled, here’s a roundup of what all small businesses can do to be more like a startup:
- Embrace remote and hybrid work. It’s good for team morale, and for finding (and keeping) the best talent for your business.
- Invest in the right technology. Put all of your teams and communications in one place, so collaboration can continue without a hitch.
- Spruce up your online presence. Make your online storefront as user friendly as possible, and be sure to stay active on social media.
- Pay attention to what today’s customers really want. Step into their shoes and find more ways to make their experience seamless and easy.
- Consider a cloud-based communications plan on day 1, not day 1,000. It’s key to survival and growth when everyone on your startup team has the right tools to be in sync regardless of location.
Originally published Aug 18, 2021, updated Dec 30, 2022