Are you waking up before your alarm? Infused with optimism? Looking forward to every new day being part of a business operation? You’re not alone. Thimble reached out to its customer base of more than 50,000 small businesses, and they are feeling positive.
Small Businesses Ready for a Comeback
The pandemic is responsible for upending the business plan of companies big and small. But now that everyone can see the light at the end of the tunnel, they are more optimistic than ever about their comeback. When asked what the comeback will look like, nearly 1/3 felt their business would come back even stronger than it was before the pandemic. However, it will be different across industries.
The report goes on to say, while some segments won’t expect major changes in demand others are worried about having enough capital to launch their summer advertising. One segment, construction pros and contractors, are looking forward to consumers feeling OK with having people work in their homes. This is especially noteworthy because consumer trends indicate people are spending more on their homes and home improvement than ever before.
Furthermore, small business owners are looking to implement systems in place to safeguard their customers and employees from the virus as well as make additional investments. When it comes to COVID-19, 100% of them said they would implement and continue with one of the safety measures used during the pandemic. This includes masking, social distancing, and contactless transactions.
Investing in Growth
The pandemic has taken a toll on the economy, and this goes for both consumers and businesses. And investing in growth has to be measured until the economy really opens up. In the Thimble report, 22% said they would like to reinvest money into hiring as well as spend on existing employees. While this might seem low, a little more than one in five, you have to take into account the past year and a half. Revenue has been low and not everyone was able to get a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.
As far as customers, 20% of small business owners say they’ll be targeting different groups of customers. Only time will tell how consumers will be spending their money once businesses start opening up. According to Thimble, “Think about how you can re-engage with your market. Do your customers know that you’re coming back? Are there new clients emerging in your industry as the economy stabilizes?”
Small Business Trends (SBT) also reached out to Thimble CEO and Co-founder Jay Bregman with some questions, and here is what he has to say about the next phase of the small business journey.
The Next Phase of the Small Business Journey
SBT: It’s very interesting that 100% of respondents said they’d continue with at least one of the safety measures. Does that work two ways – builds confidence with customers, and helps keep workers/owners healthy? Do you think considerations regarding the health of workers/owners factored into this response?
Jay Bregman: Absolutely. We’re seeing this in consumer life too — it’s not easy to just “turn off” all of these safety measures that have been so important over the last year. The business owners we talk to definitely want to play it safe and keeping some of these measures in place goes a long way toward reassuring customers while giving yourself peace of mind.
SBT: Great attitudes, with 1/3 feeling that their biz would come back stronger than ever. What about the other 2/3s? Did some respond that they thought it would stay the same? Worse? Not come back at all?
Jay Bregman: Only about 20% of small businesses were wary that their business would not come back to where it was, which speaks to the optimism of the small business segment. Among this group, most cited the fact that they expect a very slow recovery, and that their advertising and other funds were depleted, so they’ll be working uphill.
About half of responses were lukewarm toward recovery, saying that they just can’t predict customer behavior in the coming months, but that they’re optimistic that consumers will be more open to having tradespeople in their homes, will have more disposable income, and so forth.
SBT: According to the Thimble report, businesses learned more about their customer base and how to engage them. For example, no contact service, which will definitely continue. In many ways, do you think that the customer/biz relationship was strengthened as customers saw what businesses did to keep operating, how hard they were trying? Do you think that getting through the pandemic built stronger customer loyalty? Should that loyalty be rewarded (reopening specials, loyalty discounts)?
Jay Bregman: Customers really stepped up across the board throughout the pandemic. Whether it was buying gift cards to support their favorite restaurants in the early days of quarantine, or shopping local and small throughout the past year, it’s been inspiring. I do think we’ll see lots of reopening specials as small businesses looking to reward their customers — but I also think the general return to normal will be a big boost to everyone’s moods and in turn their spending.
SBT: According to Thimble’s report, respondents want to spend money on hiring and spending (for existing employees). But how can they do that as they struggle with budget constraints during reopening? Should they talk/meet with employees to discuss this?
Jay Bregman: It’s a tricky path to navigate. There is a definite desire to invest in your team, but the economic reality might not be there right this second. The small businesses I’ve been talking to tell me they’re trying to be optimistic about planning for the future, and some of that involves investing in the team ahead of business truly coming back to 100%. But the optimism is indeed there–and I think most folks believe this summer is going to be very busy.
You can read the report HERE.