Small businesses were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and entrepreneurs across various industries have been forging their path to recovery. To help, CO— hosted a series of virtual events throughout the past year featuring entrepreneurs who shared how they adapted and evolved during the pandemic era.

During our 2021 Big Week for Small Business, Jeanette Mulvey, editor-in-chief of CO—, caught up with several previous panelists to see where their businesses are today. Here’s some advice they shared for other small businesses.

Rise above the clutter online

Since the digital world is filled with countless companies competing for consumers’ attention and business, it can be difficult to stand out from the rest — especially when there are so many different channels to keep up with.

“There are a lot of different platforms now, whether on Facebook, Google, TikTok, Snapchat, etc.,” said Renaldo Webb, founder of PetPlate. “Being very creative about ad assets and other [content] you're getting out there is going to be very important.”

It’s not enough to simply share your products and services in hopes they will resonate with someone. Rather, businesses must develop a unique brand voice and customer experience that properly markets their offerings to the correct audience.

“There are more and more startups and small businesses out there all competing for the same ad space on very few platforms,” Webb added. To keep up with the competition, he’s working toward making PetPlate an omnichannel business with a retail presence.

[Read: Choosing the Social Channels That Are Right for Your Business]

It's a continued stressor, as a business owner, to make sure that you are hiring for your business in a way that you're [also] hiring for character, culture and confidence.

Jennifer Jenkins, president, JJPR Agency

Over-communicate about your company culture

Another ongoing issue stemming from the pandemic is the shortage of workers across various industries. Companies are competing to offer attractive perks to potential employees so they can attract and retain top talent.

Jennifer Jenkins, president of JJPR Agency, has noticed this issue with her own business.

“One of the trends we're seeing right now is finding team members to join us,” she explained. “It's a continued stressor, as a business owner, to make sure that you are hiring for your business in a way that you're [also] hiring for character, culture and confidence.”

To do this, Jenkins continued, companies must over-communicate about their culture and how much they invest in their team to prove it’s a wonderful place to work.

[Read: Top Diversity Executives Offer Tips on Building and Retaining Exclusive Teams]

Communicate with suppliers and customers

Most businesses are being impacted by the current supply chain crisis, leaving many businesses without the parts, products or supplies necessary to run their business. This leaves many business owners scrambling and afraid, which can lead to detrimental miscommunications among suppliers and clients.

Elena LeDoux, co-founder of Superb Maids, said the problem will likely persist for quite some time, as manufacturers are adjusting from just-in-time supply chains to an entirely new model. In other words, business owners must transition to these changes and adopt best practices to mitigate the risks.

“The way we're coping with that is basically … communicating with suppliers to get them to state honestly what their delivery times are,” she said of her business. “And [if you are] communicating that to clients … honestly, with integrity and regularly, they are very, very forgiving.”

However, she noted, it can be tempting to hide from the issue and pretend it will be over soon — an action (or rather, inaction) she does not advise during these uncertain times.

Rather, LeDoux offered a Native American proverb as wise words of advice: “When the thunder strikes, cows run away from it while buffalos run towards it.”

“Every morning I ask myself: Am I a cow, or am I a buffalo?” she said. “I always feel like a cow, but I choose to run like a buffalo.”

[Read: 5 Small Business Owners on Managing Supply Chain Challenges]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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