American small businesses have struggled over the last year due to supply chain woes caused by the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus and the ripples it has caused. A global supply chain disruption can cause serious strife even for the smallest business if it can’t get the materials, supplies, or inventory it needs to sell to customers.
While there’s no evidence that we’ll get back to pre-pandemic operations anytime soon, small businesses must make modifications to how they operate to survive these bottlenecks.
What Are the Major Supply Chain Issues?
When the pandemic began, there were factory shutdowns in China and other countries, which led to shortages of things like toilet paper, if you recall. That was just the tip of the iceberg, as other products also became endangered, like semiconductor chips. Because so many products rely on these chips, from cars to phones, and demand for these items increased steeply through the pandemic, we are now seeing huge supply chain disruptions and spiked prices.
And these aren’t the only products that are being delayed in production and delivery. Just about every industry has been hit by supply chain disruptions.
Why is There a Supply Chain Problem in the United States?
A large number of American businesses—both large and small—rely on products created in Asia and other countries. Because there are supply chain bottlenecks on many Chinese products because of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. and other countries are suffering.
How Small Businesses are Being Impacted by the Supply Chain Crisis
Not only are there backlogs in the manufacturing of raw materials and products that U.S. small businesses need, but there are also ripple effects throughout the retail industry. Container ships are backed up at ports, unable to deliver the products they hold.
There is also a shortage of truck drivers to deliver products to warehouses and retailers. These labor shortages, along with sporadic shutdowns throughout the pandemic, have caused shipping costs to rise and store shelves to be empty. This is especially dangerous for small businesses during the holiday shopping season when most make the bulk of their revenues.
What Can Small Business Owners Do to Survive this Crisis?
The Biden administration is taking measures to fix the issues with supply chains, though there are no fast and easy fixes.
Small businesses must find ways to navigate around reality so that they can stay in business and meet consumer demand.
How can they do that? A little creativity.
Look for alternative suppliers. If you’re not having luck overseas, consider American suppliers. Though they may charge more than their overseas counterparts, you may be able to eliminate most of the logistical issues that come from shipping products halfway around the world and actually get your products.
You may also want to raise your prices. As costs go up for you, it may be impossible to retain your profit margin without charging customers more. We’re seeing prices rise across the board, and while no shoppers like it, increased pricing doesn’t seem to be slowing sales down.
You may also want to consider offering alternative products if you can’t get your usual order of inventory.
Above all, have patience. This crisis won’t last forever, and if we can hold on a bit longer and find innovative solutions to problems like the ones that supply chains create, we’ll make it through together.
How Financing Can Help Small Businesses Overcome Supply Chain Obstacles
Here’s hoping that next year is better than the last. If we’ve learned one thing from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that we never can predict the future.
Given the situation with supply chain blockages, you might want to consider taking out one or more small business loans to ensure you have the capital you need to make it through to better times.
Business credit cards can also be useful because they allow you to make the purchases your business needs, like office supplies and equipment, even if you can’t pay for it all right now. Just be mindful of your charges and pay them back as quickly as possible to avoid paying too much interest.
You’re far from alone in experiencing supply chain issues. While there’s no easy fix here, know that things get better slowly, and before you know it, business will be booming again.