• Sebastian Winter

During COVID-19, small business expansion needs a new go-to-market strategy

Soon, there will be an unprecedented opportunity for SME and SBGs to expand into the market vacuum left by COVID. On 12th November the head of FCA said that a ‘significant’ number of firms will fail due to COVID. A North Wales Tourist board survey found that 40% of small businesses will fold without more support. This is harsh for the businesses that fail, but for the survivors, it is an unprecedented opportunity to grow. To take advantage of this opportunity they will need coherent go-to-market strategies to capture new customer segments.

Photo by the blowup on Unsplash

An SME looking to use Covid-19 as a chance to grow can choose to follow a well established go-to-market strategy. The first of these is the practice of stealing market share from a poorly run competitor, in current times some might call this kicking someone when they are down, but taking customers from a struggling competitor is an age-old strategy. A second approach an entrepreneur should use to achieve growth in this period is to provide a service or product that customers want, but can no longer find. With many businesses folding, or soon likely to fold, there are many people that want a local solution, and a more robust local business is perfectly placed to meet these needs. Another approach founders can consider is to meet new needs created by the pandemic. The change to our lifestyles from lockdown, and the subsequent change in our outlook, mean that there are many new desires that still need to be fulfilled. This is a perfect opportunity for a founder to create new customers by discovering a new need, validating it, and then building a business model to serve it. BeTheBusiness saw this opportunity, usually, the firm assists business performance through matching senior teams with executives from highly-successful firms, and has created a COVID-19 12-week programme to assist SMEs to navigate the challenging period.

Business owners and operators can undertake less aggressive strategies to plug the gap left by the pandemic. There is often strength in numbers, with many businesses struggling it is an opportunity for firms to help hold each other up. Businesses can achieve this through localized partnerships, enabling cross-selling to their customer bases from another firm, sharing office space or IT capabilities, the number of opportunities out there for goodwill gestures that can lead to a shared benefit is many. This same approach can work on a community level. Many community organizations and individuals are struggling in these times, offering the same help to non-profit initiatives can create much goodwill within a companies customer base, and in its potential customer base. A report by the Federation of Small Businesses found that 57% of small businesses are playing critical roles during the pandemic to help people get through this trying period. A final thought on COVID growth strategies is on co-opetition opportunities. As we approach Christmas there is no better time to consider goodwill. An entrepreneur can look for ways to work with a struggling competitor, finding novel opportunities for win-win scenarios that allow customers to be served during these challenging times.

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