Nowadays, many small businesses across the globe are suffering from the economic and social impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. For most business owners, the past few months have been a constant juggling act – from keeping both sales and employees healthy to creating new strategies and learning new protocols.
In today’s world, under a cloud of a crisis, companies need to innovate and adapt quickly in response to the radical changes across cultures and industries. A key to survival may lie in pivoting your business models, practices or channels. Here are a few ways on how to pivot your small business and survive the storm.
Your employees can be a great source for fresh ideas and effective solutions as well as latent ancillary knowledge or talents. Therefore, make sure to ask your team for suggestions for new strategies, business or products opportunities. Ask about expertise or skills they might have, such as in the marketing, arts or even musical prowess, that they can offer to help your business grow or differentiate. Also, consider the ability of your employees to work in multiple roles, including local delivery, or have flexible or extended work hours.
At the same time, try to be honest with them about the challenges your company is facing, any necessary staff changes and the future plans you have. This is especially important in terms of security measures, immediate changes like social distancing and your strategy or the need to change processes or models of the organisation.
Additionally, since the workforce is one of the largest investments for any business, make sure your team is structured to ensure the most value and return on your investment. Evaluate which teams need additional support, where there is work that can be divided among teams and how employees can be moved from other departments to help each other and improve efficiency. It might make sense to cut staff (at least temporarily) to reduce costs. On the other hand, this can be a great time to recruit talent, as many people are currently unemployed.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial not to take clients for granted. Some customers might need to hear from you more than others, so put the focus on existing customers first and consider deepening their loyalty. Reprioritise your customer segments and try to stay top of mind with those who you can impact the most. There may be new potential customers who will benefit from your business right now.
It’s also essential to actively listen to your clients and adapt to what they need. Customers can give you invaluable information about your business, services or products, which you might not have noticed yourself. Thus, use online customer surveys via email or social media. Look for customer stories, photos and reviews that you can share on your social media to build trust, increase engagement and attract a new audience.
Also, explore your data, including what you know about your customers, marketing and sales. Based on this information determine which initiatives worked and what didn’t, and build a profile of your best clients. You can also offer a new service or product that is in peak demand, such as niche products that have gone viral, or recently passed laws requiring your services like legal or construction assistance.
Many individuals are more tuned in than ever before, watching to see how businesses are responding in the pandemic. Consider reviewing your marketing materials across channels to ensure they clearly reflect the value of your company.
Maybe a current campaign is no longer related to the environment, or perhaps there is a great opportunity to sell differently. Look at your marketing messages and imagery – are they appropriate and relevant to the situation? If the answer is ‘No’ then it is time to adjust your marketing messages and channels to reach the most people and achieve the best results.
As any business owner knows, money makes the business go round, particularly in times of the crisis. Do you have enough money in your cash reserves to help you not only survive the ongoing business disruption but also get you back to work after the economic recovery? Consider getting financial support to help you realise your business priorities with ease.
There are local and national governments, international institutions, private non-profits organisations and other lenders that can help professionals navigate this unstable economy by providing an influx of cash, which is sometimes just the solution your firm needs to begin moving forward. For example, you can apply for different grants such as Future Fund, Bounce Back Loan System (BBLS), Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS scheme) – all of which can help to receive the necessary financial help to stay afloat during these unprecedented times.
Not only are you and your nearby small business involved, but companies and organisations around the world are also all in this together. Therefore, you probably have some business partners (existing or potential) that can help you and each other through an innovative exchange of primary or secondary resources and skills.
Try to find methods to use your supply chain or partners to fulfil a shortage of hard-to-find products or services in your area. Consider negotiating with local same day delivery service, courier or even taxi companies to help you offer or meet the demand for home deliveries.
Make sure to ask your larger partners, like tech organisations, if they can act as consultants on your business or marketing or customer data analysis, to help you navigate the new normal. Some companies who can’t help financially might still be able to offer free advice, counselling or mentoring sessions. Finally, collaborate with other small businesses to create value-added packages, develop co-marketing or cross-promotion strategies.