With all that is happening in our world right now, I think many of us will have a tendency to react out of fear of the unknown. That is a very natural place to land considering how unique and unprecedented our situation is.
The majority of people will choose to hoard as much as they can and hide out as they are buffeted by the crashing waves that are coming our way. As a small
business owner, myself, I would like to encourage all of us to be very intentional over the coming weeks and months to act instead of reacting and to fight instead of hiding.
It may feel like you have no control over how things will go for yourself or your business, but the decisions you make and the actions you take in this season will have a tremendous effect on how (or even if) your business emerges on the other side of this crisis.
How should a small business owner react to the Coronavirus and our rapidly changing economy in a way that leads to health and growth both professionally and personally?
The most important thing to remember is that your job is to run your business well regardless of what is happening around you. If you manage your cash flow well, keep the best interests of your clients at the forefront of your mind, and keep on top of the current trends in your industry, you will be much more likely to emerge victorious once this storm subsides. Here are 10 ideas to get you started thinking about the proactive steps you can begin taking right now.
1. Keep Marketing.
I know this seems counterintuitive but this is the most important thing you can do for your business. While you may be tempted to cut back on advertising and marketing
right now, this is actually the thing that you should be actively pursuing. If you can’t afford a full-scale marketing campaign, focus on less expensive options such as blogging, email blasts, webinars, postcards, social media marketing, etc.
2. Increased value over increased prices.
Help your customers to understand how your service will benefit them. Consistently providing the best products or services is the best way to retain repeat customers.
3. Keep your goals short term.
Your focus right now should be in 30-day increments. Figure out how much closed business you will need to survive and thrive in the current month and then aggressively pursue those goals. How many meetings, calls, email blasts, and blog posts will you need in order to reach your targets for the month? I would suggest spending at least
an hour a day pursuing new leads and attempting to close deals.
4. Provide excellent customer service.
Satisfied customers will return to you for their upcoming needs and they can become one of your best advertising tools. Someone who has been treated well and has received quality goods or services will pass the word along to their friends and colleagues. Under promise but over deliver and your business will naturally grow.
5. Add staff.
This is another counterintuitive yet effective move. There will be intelligent, motivated, talented people out of work in the coming months. You may be able to hire someone who you could not have afforded in the past. Consider hiring a salesperson on commission. They will be grateful to have work and you will have a driven employee.
6. Keep track of your invoices.
Make accounts payable within 15 days and send out weekly reminders after that. Be respectful but firm. Seek out invoicing software that does this automatically so you can focus on other aspects of your business. Get set up to accept credit cards so you can receive payments faster.
7. Get in contact with your bank before things get dire.
Your bank does not want you to fail, that won’t benefit them. Be intentional about good communication with them. Ask for an increased line of credit or renegotiate better terms on your loan. Staying in denial about your financial situation will only harm your business. Be proactive!
8. Network, network, network!
This will take creativity in this time of social distancing. Thankfully we have social media. Figure out how to remind your customers that you are still around. Give them current and relevant content. Your goal is to be in the forefront of peoples’ minds when a need arises. Think about how your business can uniquely help people right now
and make sure everyone knows about it.
9. Improve communication with existing customers.
Keep in contact with your largest clients and try to figure out ways to help them even if it doesn’t benefit you. Keep your prices the same for them or even consider giving discounts for long time clients. They will appreciate the break and remember you the next time a need arises.
10. Budget carefully and cut expenses.
Use software like Quick Books Online or Mint to track your cash flow. It is more critical than ever for you to be aware of where your money is going. Determine where you can cut expenses without decreasing value. A good rule of thumb is for every $2 you cut in expenses, add $1 to your marketing budget.
I hope some of these tips will be helpful as we head into what promises to be a difficult time for all of us and for small businesses specifically.
I find encouragement in remembering that God is unchanging and in control. Corrie ten Boom
once said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.