Wow! What changing times we live in at the moment.
One minute we are merrily working in our business reaping the rewards – or at least working towards them – and next minute we are thrown into chaos by the Covid – 19 virus and the lockdown.
For some businesses this has created a wealth of extra work – online services, web builders, food shops, those producing health products – but for others including those in the leisure industry, health practitioners such as chiropractors, physios etc, non-essential retailers to name a few – this has been disastrous.
I work with clients in all of these sectors so I have seen on a daily basis the effect on not only their business, but their mindset as well. So in trying to address some of these issues, here is the advice I have been sharing with them – and strategies I have used myself as a fellow business owner.
Keep communicating. Keep talking to your current customers and clients making sure they are up to date with what is going on.
Take all the help that is on offer.
At the moment the Government are trying to help Businesses Owners stay afloat and it is important to tap into the resources that are on offer. Apply for the Small Business Grant for businesses receiving rates relief – £10,000. Also tap into their interest free loans that are 100% guaranteed by the Government – you might not need it at the moment but you do not have to pay anything for the first year – and whatever you don’t use you can just pay back. This will give you some peace of mind.
And don’t forget the VAT, income tax, loan and credit card holidays you can apply for and 80% of furloughed workers wages paid up to £2,500 pm under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Keep a positive mindset.
It is easy in this climate to feel very despondent about the future if you have a business that is effectively closed at the moment. But it is at times like this that you do need to remember why you started your business in the first place. Remember the resolve and resilience you had at the beginning when you were doing all the hard work to set it up for very little reward. Stop and congratulate yourself for the success you have had so far and think of this as a new beginning in your business. You did it once – you can do it again and this time you are not starting from scratch.
Make a plan.
Now we all know that every business owner should have a business plan to move themselves and their business forward – don’t we? I do find it incredible the amount of business owners who do not have a business plan and the excuses they give for not writing one. After all, you would not build a house without a plan – so why would you build a business without one?
Your business is a big asset to you and should help you to achieve whatever it was that you decided when you first started.
Having a plan right now is essential. Things have changed dramatically and any previous plans you have made either need to be modified for the current climate – or rewritten.
Not only will this give you a new perspective with which to move forward, it will also help your positive mindset if you can see what is feasible.
But if you make a plan – also put it into action!
Shift your marketing
Many clients we are working with have not only changed what they offer, but also the way they are offering it – and this is the most important part in keeping their business trading and ensuring they have a robust business moving forward.
So these are the steps you need to consider to ‘reinvent’ your business in order to revive your business and then for it to thrive:
- Consider what else you can sell. Can you sell products or services online and how can you add to what you are already offering?
- Who is your new target market? Has it changed? Where are they and how can you communicate with them? It is really important to establish this so that you can shift the types of marketing you are doing to get you in front of the right people. This probably involves online contact rather than face to face marketing at the moment, but also consider how this will change once the lockdown is over.
- How can you shift your message and offer something that is needed right now? Can you help engage and educate people in a way that you haven’t considered before? Think about what your customers need help with now and how you can help – and then get the message out there.
- Update your website with your new offers and ways to contact you – plus the new content.
- Step up your content – the way of keeping in touch at the moment is online – and there will be a shift in this direction even after the lockdown! Make sure you are educating and informing across all the social media platforms, via emails – without spamming of course – and through your website.
- Join in online networking groups. I love meeting people face to face in networking events – but I have to admit it is a lot easier to fit more networking in now I don’t have to travel to the venues!
- Run your own online events via Zoom, Skype etc. Talk to clients and prospective customers this way.
I have to give one example here to illustrate these points.
We have a client who provides the catering for events – weddings, large birthday parties etc. and the food he specialises in is paella and tapas. As you can imagine during lockdown all these events have been cancelled and he was pretty despondent as he didn’t know when he would be up and running again. He thought he was looking at no income for many months to come. So talking it through he realised that there was still a market in local deliveries and he set about rethinking his marketing and reaching to this new audience. He used a leafleting campaign in the local areas he could deliver to – and concentrated on specific evenings for specific areas. So now , instead of making a large paella for 20 people for an event, he makes the same amount for 5 for 6 households at a time through local deliveries. And guess what? His sales have increased rapidly and his turnover is far greater as he is delivering his food several evenings a week instead of the 2 or 3 parties he was catering for previously.
Keep talking to your current customers and clients making sure they are up to date with what is going on. Send out information and advice to as many people as possible offering to help. People will remember what you have tried to do for them and will come back to you when the climate is better.