It's no secret that COVID-19 has hit Colorado's small businesses hard. 

The pandemic ended a decade of job growth in the state, with unemployment jumping to over 12 percent in April. 

Despite consumer safety concerns and a slew of new regulations, many of Colorado's small businesses are not only surviving the pandemic — they're thriving!

What it all comes down to is creativity and a willingness to adapt to the ever-changing health and economic landscape.

Here are five ways to go beyond the status quo to actually grow your Colorado small business—even during a pandemic.

1. Make safety your top priority

In a world where simply eating dinner out or getting a haircut feels like a risk, your No. 1 job as a small business is to make your customers feel safe. 

Gone are the days of “If you build it, they will come." Now, you have to disinfect it, too! 

Because no matter how valuable your product or service, customers won't bite if they don't think you're taking their health and safety seriously.

Make sure you are: 

  • Consistently following your area’s current COVID regulations, such as mask ordinances, social distancing and cleaning requirements. 
  • Posting safety information both in-person and online, so it's easy for customers to access no matter where they are. 
  • Consider adding the new business safety information to your outgoing phone message.

2. Customer convenience is key

Now is also an ideal time to review the convenience of your service offerings. 

Does your business offer the following to improve customer convenience? 

  • Delivery or curbside pickup 
  • Online scheduling and e-commerce shopping
  • Easy customer phone system navigation 
  • Online chat and communication for quick and efficient customer service 

These are popular options during the best of times—but the pandemic has made them more important than ever.

If your customers need to fill out forms before an appointment, email or text them in advance to save them (and yourself) time the day of. 

At a bare minimum, make sure to keep your business location and hours up to date everywhere they're posted.

3. Embrace (don’t fight) the digital revolution

In addition to offering as many online services as possible to ensure customer safety and convenience, you can use your website, blog, email and social media channels to build relationships and increase customer engagement.

Need help driving customers to your website or social media profiles? Utilize PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns and Google ads to expand your brand awareness and help gain new leads and customers. 

Not sure about social media? This guide to social media for small businesses will get you started.

4. Enhance your brand message

Building your business isn't just about transactions. This is a strange and challenging time for everyone, so it's vital to treat both your customers and employees with kindness and gratitude. Without them, your business can't survive, much less thrive.

Now that you've embraced digital marketing, make sure your social media and digital outreach efforts focus on being informative, helpful, and beneficial — not just a way to drive revenue or give yourself a virtual pat on the back. 

We know you love your business and your customers, so let that passion shine through in everything you do!

5. Encourage customer reviews (and gracefully accept customer feedback)

Customers don't trust businesses — they trust other customers. 

It’s a hard truth, but one that helps businesses to improve when it’s (finally) accepted. 

How to turn your customers into brand advocates 

Encourage them to leave positive reviews for you on sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc. 

The key is making leaving an online review easy for them. 

Do this by emailing customers a link or posting a QR code by your check-out counter that digitally directs customers to the appropriate review site so they can quickly and efficiently review your business right after positively interacting with it.

And what if a customer’s experience wasn't so positive? 

The best thing you can do as a business owner is proactively and politely respond to any negative reviews, both public and private. 

Best case scenario: you turn a disgruntled customer into a delighted one. 

Worst case scenario: you gain valuable feedback for the future. 

Most importantly, never respond to a negative review with hostility—no matter how tempting. That's not how you want to go viral, especially during a pandemic!

6. Make sure you have trusted coverage to survive the unexpected

Operating your business without effective and trustworthy insurance coverages leaves you vulnerable to financial ruin in the event of an accident. 

Colorado workers’ compensation insurance (a state requirement for businesses operating and with employees in CO) helps protect your business and support employees that suffer work-related injuries.

Get a free workers comp quote in 90 seconds online with Cake. Like what you see? Finalize your policy quote for active coverages takes five minutes or less online.