7 Tips for Business Owners
Most businesses just a short while ago could not have envisioned that the whole commercial world would be put on pause for the foreseeable future.
For small and medium-size businesses that work to tight margins, there have been huge and unexpected challenges to overcome.
Staying positive in such circumstances may sound a little trite. But it’s exactly what businesses in all sectors need to do if they want to survive and thrive after the lockdown is finally lifted.
Here are our tips for being practical and productive over the next few months.
1. Turn Off the News
There’s the much-quoted serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Whether you believe in a divine presence or not, these are wise words. Some things are within your control, others that aren’t.
Sitting and fretting about the things you can’t control does no good. If you are spending time glued to the news reports and feeling overwhelmed, you’re more likely to procrastinate and lose heart. By all means, check-in once a day but focus on other, more important things for the rest of the day.
2. It’s Not Going to Last Forever
While things might seem dire at the moment, there will come a point when the lockdown ends and we can start getting back to a full day’s work. There are several proactive things you can do to help your business and improve it’s the ability to bounce back when this happens.
With a positive outlook, you can start right now to put in place the building blocks that will make a difference. Try to structure your day and that of your employers so that you get the most out of your time, even if you are all working remotely.
3. Ticking Over During the Lockdown
The biggest concern businesses have at the moment is how to keep going despite the lockdown. For some companies like restaurants and bars, the shutdown immediately cut all revenue. A good few have taken to providing click and collect services and takeaway deliveries to help them make ends meet. It’s been difficult but they are managing to bring in at least some income.
Other businesses can maintain a greater level of operation by allowing staff to work at home. Solicitors can provide online services for clients such as video consultations, for example. Businesses like pet stores are again using click and collect to provide essential products without putting staff at risk.
Your business needs to use the technology available. That could mean, for example, using productivity and collaboration software to enable your team to get together to plan for the future. It may be as simple as using Zoom or even Facebook Live to keep everyone connected.
4. Use the Time to Market Your Business
This is also a great time to get on top of your marketing. Many small and medium-sized businesses struggle to find the time and resources to put together campaigns and truly concerted marketing activity. For entrepreneurs with more time than they’re used to on their hands, there are several things to consider here:
- Use video to connect with your customers and a whole new audience during the lockdown.
- Build your social media following and providing support not necessarily associated with your business product or service.
- Review your website and whether it can be improved and updated.
- Look at creating a series of blog posts that improve your visibility online.
- Start to plan your future marketing activity and put together campaigns that will be ready to drop once everything reopens.
- Use this moment to do some detailed competitor research to see what everyone else in your industry is up to at the moment and using that to plan for the future.
- Keep customers updated with how you are looking after your employees or what you plan for when things get started again.
- Boost your brand by providing a community service that makes a difference at this difficult time.
Once again, being in lockdown doesn’t mean everything should grind to a halt. Marketing is certainly one activity that you can still engage with while you are unable to work at full speed.
5. Accessing Financial Help
While there is some criticism over the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, they have done a lot to make money available for businesses. It’s important that you access this financial support and that you understand what is available. There is a range of loans, cash grants and tax relief as well as support for employees that are furloughed.
6. Preparing for the Resumption
Preparing for business to get going again when you don’t know when that will happen is challenging. There’s no glossing over this fact.
But there are plenty of things that you can do to make sure you are ready for the big day.
A lot will depend on what sort of business you run. If you operate a call centre, for example, your planning is almost definitely going to be which essential staff you need back in the office, how you are going to maintain distancing and hygiene in that environment and how you can support others to work from home.
For some businesses, the greater part of the planning is going to be how they attract customers once they start up again. Again, that’s where good communication and marketing come in. Our advice is don’t let things drift, even if your confidence has taken a hint and you’re worried about the future.
7. Look After Your Team
Last, but certainly not least, you need to make sure that your team are on board, are supported and have everything they need. Many businesses are trying to keep their employees on the ‘payroll’ with the Government paying 80% of salaries. Even so, millions are likely to be laid off the longer the lockdown goes on.
You should always be looking at how you can bring your employees into your operation during the lockdown. Even if that’s just teleconferencing to see how they are and give them support, it maintains a strong connection and shows that you care.
The good news is that the pandemic is not going to last forever. We may come back to a changed work environment but we will return. The companies that start to plan now and have the best strategies in place are the ones that will have the best chance of succeeding and hitting the ground running. Get your employees involved and keep going, stay positive.
In the meantime, stay positive and, above all, stay safe! Remember, if there's anything I can assist with then do give me a call.