When confronted with any scary scenario our first instinct is either fight or flight. The Covid-19 crisis is even scaring the bravest business owners, but now is not the time to give up. As restrictions are gradually lifted, we are able to get back in the saddle and start moving forward.
Having endured several months of lockdown and emerged the other side, as a business owner you need to cut yourself some slack and give yourself some breathing space while you work out your next step.
Most business owners are too busy to undertake an in-depth review of the company, so this downtime, albeit enforced, offers the perfect opportunity to identify any issues and make valuable long-term adjustments.
Once you start investigating you may be surprised by some of the answers. Everything may have been running relatively smoothly and then you found out the hard way that the business wasn’t equipped to work digitally during the crisis. Or maybe your business wasn’t firing on all cylinders but you’re not quite sure of the issues, so now is the time to do some investigating.
You may find that your marketing activity is sound but your website is letting you down, or vice versa. It could be that your product is the problem or that you are trying to reach the wrong audience. Some of Redline’s clients are undertaking reviews, updates or even creating new websites that will help them stand out online, and others are working on new strategies and learning how to operate in an increasingly digital world.
If you are having problems, the first step is to stabilise the business. Start by identifying cost savings that won’t jeopardise your talent or any other asset that could affect your ability to operate. If possible, try to ringfence a budget for investment and growth, as access to the right processes, technology and expertise will help the business adapt and work towards long-term success.
Here are 5 steps to help your business recover from the Covid-19 crisis:
1. Go digital
If your company primarily operates from a physical store or face to face, you could investigate the possibility of moving towards digital operations. For example, if you own a boutique or any other kind of shop, you could open an ecommerce store.
Businesses that have already embraced digital technology found it much easier to operate during the crisis. Video conferencing isn’t only about meetings, online classes and tutorials have been popping up daily on Zoom. All over the world companies are learning to be creative and adapting to the new normal; bars have gone online to show drinks being mixed before being delivered. Real estate agents, interior designers, recruitment consultants and many other businesses can also use digital technology for everyday communications. Ask yourself if you could adapt to include more digital marketing, communications and technology. If this answer is yes, then now could be the time to put a plan into action.
2. Look after your customers
It may sound trite but we are ‘all in it together’. Your customers may not be using your services or buying your products at this moment but it’s important to reach out to let them know that you care and that you will still be there for them when they are ready to return.
This could be individually or via your database. Engage via newsletters or social media in creative ways to give updates, advice and ideas, that will help them to trust in your business. As lockdown restrictions are relaxed it will be possible to introduce posts featuring gentle promotion, but lay off the hard sell techniques to avoid being seen as tacky. Keep messages simple, uplifting, amusing, informative, but most of all keep the communication going.
Be honest if you need help, whether it is to plan a strategy, implement new systems or to add to your product line. Marketing or IT services are obviously better handled by experienced professionals, but maybe you should also consider collaborating with other local businesses. Going into partnership with another company, be it for a one-time promotion, or a longer-term collaboration could give you instant access to new customers and new markets. Think about what type of businesses are related to yours and which businesses have a common client profile, and then consider how you could help each other. At times like this, those who dare always win!
4. Plan and invest
It may seem counter intuitive to plan and invest in developing new products, new marketing campaigns or a new website etc but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Utilising this time wisely is how you can move ahead of your competition. While other companies are licking their wounds and waiting for the crisis to pass, those who have been working hard to review, stabilise and improve, will be ready to shout loud and proud when the time comes. This is how you can stand out from the crowd.
5. Never give up
Not everything you try will be a success, but without taking a chance you will never know. If you find that your product doesn’t work for you, drop it and move on. If your online shop isn’t projecting the right image for your business and isn’t generating leads then maybe it’s time to change the website. Now is the time to research, experiment and to take action and to find the products, suppliers and solutions that will work for you.
Even James Dyson needed to produce thousands of vacuum cleaners before he hit the jackpot with his cyclone bag-free models, showing that persistence pays off. If you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.