With the U.S. economy projected to shrink by almost 40 percent this quarter alone, companies and consumers alike are facing unprecedented challenges on a daily basis. The next congressional stimulus bill is potentially months away from getting passed, so the responsibility has fallen to American businesses to pick up the slack.
While fixing the entire economy might seem like a big task for companies to take on, every little thing that a business does has a ripple effect. Each worker hired, each product sold, and each tax dollar paid all contribute to giving the country a much-needed boost.
Many companies are struggling to stay afloat, but plenty of others have managed to achieve some degree of stability during this crisis. If your business is in the latter group, here’s what you can do to give back:
If ever there was a time to drop the dog-eat-dog mentality that defines the business world, it’s now. When eternal competitors Facebook and Twitter team up to take on COVID-19, it’s clear that cross-business collaboration is no longer the taboo it once was. Working together allows you to pool key resources with other businesses, giving you access to some of the tools your company needs to thrive under pressure.
While plenty of businesses have connected to offer COVID-19-related relief, it’s time they do the same to relieve the economy. One of the simplest ways businesses can do this is by creating multi-business rewards programs, like the Good Hood Deal created by restaurants in New York. The proceeds from each $35 card were split evenly between five businesses, each of which gave a certain food item to each card holder. Within days, the Good Hood Deal was completely sold out of cards, and the restaurants that participated were solvent.
While your industry might not be fully conducive to things like cross-business rewards programs, even something as simple as a multi-company discount can go a long way. Offer customers at your business a discount if they’ve shopped at other businesses you’re allied with — the results will speak for themselves.
Communicate your plans.
Though it’s stabilized recently, consumer confidence has taken a huge drop over the past several months, significantly altering purchasing patterns along the way. In order for the economy to be firing on all cylinders, consumers need to be buying products and services — and it’s your company’s job to make them comfortable doing so.
As your business gears up to contribute to the economy, let everyone know exactly what you plan on doing. Communicating your plans not only lets customers know what your next move is, but it can inspire other businesses to do their part as well. Hawke Media’s newest initiative is giving companies a platform to make their voices heard — to participate, businesses simply need to record a video explaining what they’re doing to help the economy before challenging three other businesses to do the same. The viral movement has already attracted companies and entrepreneurs across the board, bolstering the confidence of many.
Open communication is crucial in times like these: People need to know that your business is stable and prepared to do what it takes to get the economy back on its feet. By using your social media channels, you can ensure that your message is received by consumers and fellow businesses alike.
Keep things flexible.
The COVID-19 crisis forced many businesses to shift toward work-from-home models seemingly overnight, but that transition might not be as temporary as some had thought. Jack Dorsey recently made headlines when he announced that his two tech behemoths, Twitter and Square, were allowing their workers to stay at home permanently if they wished.
While businesses may be eager to invite employees back to the office, some should take a hard look at the potential benefits of allowing their workers to continue to work from home. A long-term study done by Stanford University showed that those working from home experienced a serious productivity boost compared to their office-bound co-workers, but flexible work policies can have tangible economic benefits as well.
The reduced commuting costs and more flexible childcare options that come from working at home can have a huge impact on household budgets, turning once-budgeted cash into newly disposable income. By giving your workers the option to work how they please, you’re encouraging them to spend their salaries how they please as well — benefiting the economy in the process.
Focus on your customers.
When it comes to kick-starting the economy, it can be tempting to immediately think of the big picture: large contracts, high-dollar marketing campaigns, and flashy new products. While there’s nothing wrong with trying to make a big impact in times like these, it’s important not to forget about the center of both the economy and your business: the customer.
Google, in an attempt to give back to customers and small businesses, is offering premium Google Meet memberships for free. Digital titan Mailchimp is giving away free domain names and website builders to help those struggling right now. Though many companies are currently focused on doing what they need to do to stay in business, thinking about how you can benefit your customers is perhaps the single greatest impact you can have. Your customers are likely more cash-strapped than they’ve ever been, so slashing some of your prices or offering free services can allow them to use that money elsewhere. Giving up short-term revenue is never an easy ask, but doing so can sometimes help with the big picture.
A business that boosts the economy is boosting itself in the process — every single dollar put toward helping the economy get back on its feet is a dollar that will eventually flow back into your industry. By working together to get money flowing again, companies can do their part in helping the world get over this slump and emerge stronger on the other side.