As I write this post, we are in the middle of lockdown due to a worldwide pandemic. This is not just a health crisis but has quickly become an economic crisis impacting most businesses and creating more than a few worries and challenges for business owners – but is this an opportunity?
Opportunity or Armageddon?
There are few businesses who have not been impacted by the pandemic. The lockdown has forced businesses to work differently and, in some cases, go into hibernation. For many of the businesses that remain operational, homeworking has quickly become the norm
Is it doom and gloom? Are business owners completely helpless during this time?
In my opinion – No!
..and here’s why…
Most business in “normal times” tell me that they don’t have the time to spend ON their business because they are too busy working IN their business.
This is where the opportunity lies.
Right now, if you are in a business owner and you have the spare capacity in your schedule, you have the opportunity to work on your business. The opportunity to build a better business. The opportunity to come out the lockdown period stronger.
Now that’s a great opportunity and probably one you will never get again.
Before we explore the areas of your business to focus on during the lockdown there is something you must do during this time…
Maintain A Positive Mindset
Above all maintain a positive mindset. It was motivation speaker Jim Rohn said (I paraphrase):
“…it is the same wind that blows on us all, it is the set of our sail that makes the difference.”
It is the set of your sail that will make a difference to you and your business during this time. Are you dropping your sail and hibernating and waiting the storm out?
Are you setting sail to drive you to build a better business, to get ahead of the competition, to work strategically on your business?
The late great Jim Rohn went on to say:
“When the winds change, we must change. We must struggle to our feet once more and reset the sail in the manner that will steer us toward the destination of our own deliberate choosing. The set of the sail, how we think and how we respond, has a far greater capacity to destroy our lives than any challenges we face. How quickly and responsibly we react to adversity is far more important than the adversity itself. Once we discipline ourselves to understand this, we will finally and willingly conclude that the great challenge of life is to control the process of our thinking.”
If you choose the latter, to set your sail, then these are the areas I suggest you consider working on right now:
# 1Fortify your business
The first thing do is fortify your business from the storm:
Make the most out of government assistance
In the UK we have a number of incentives that the government have put into place to ease the burden on businesses. These include:
Business rate relief on premises
Deferred payment of VAT (sales tax)
80% wage contribution for furloughed staff
Loans and grants
Consider which of these are right for your business and which may prohibit your activity during this period.
The “UK” government are implementing some of these schemes only in England. The devolved governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are responsible for implementation in their territory so please check their websites if you live in these areas. Also, some of the implementation burden has been passed down to local government too.
You may want to check out business support and business organization websites like Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) as well.
Review Your Business Expenses
You may also want to review your business expenses. Cancelling or pausing services where possible. Be careful to cancel expenses only not those items with the potential return on investment during this period.
#2 Deliver WHAT you can HOW you can
So, you may not be able to deliver business as usual, but you may be able to deliver business as unusual during the lockdown.
If you sell carpets you may be able to provide quotes and estimates to customers subject to a pre-installation visit by getting them to measure for you. You can get the sale put them in your order book and get out as soon as the lockdown is over.
If you are a retailer, may be you can go online with an E-commerce site.
My business as totally changed in the past few weeks. I have moved from face-to-face coaching and training to video calls and webinars.
What can you do to pivot your business right now? Not sure? Then make use of our free coaching calls.
#3 Clear your “technical debt”
What is technical debt? It the costly stuff in business that doesn’t make any money isn’t sexy but needs to be done.
It’s the stuff at the bottom of your to-do list, you know the stuff you are going to get done tomorrow as soon as you have you stopped working 24/7 in delivering to customers.
It’s the accounts stuff you never get to, it’s the overdue staff appraisals (that can be done online), it’s the marketing and business plans you never get around too.
Now is the time to eliminate this.
#4 Tidy up your image
It is time to tidy up your image. Write for your blog which was last updated – well never? The logo redesign and branding that is overdue a refresh. The social media channels you never use. Time to get things sorted and say, “we are open for business”.
Does your office need decorating? Is it empty? Now might be a great time to throw the keys to the decorator and let him get on with things while your staff are homeworking.
#5 Demonstrate values
Right now, it is so important to demonstrate your values.
How do you want to be remembered after this time? A vulture who is marketing on the back of the crisis and selling through fear? Or someone is doing their bit to help out in whatever way they can.
There are few people out there I am striking from my network, subscriptions to guru’s who from day one, who have sought to profit from the crisis.
It is okay to profit despite the crisis but not from the crisis. Don’t confuse the two.
#6 Competitor research
Remember before you started your business? In your business plan, you had a section called competitor research. How long as it since you did that?
If you are like most business owners, then maybe never.
This is a great time to revisit your competitors’ websites, blogs, social media channels etc. to find out what they are doing now, what services and products they offer, and how they are dealing with the current crisis.
Ask, what can you learn from them? What can you copy? What can you do better and different than them?
Remember, it is better to create and innovate than to compete.
#7 Build relationships
Customer Relationship Building
Now is also a great time to build relationships.
Build relationships with your customers. call them just to find out how they all and how they are coping in this time of uncertainty. Don’t try to sell, just listen. It is the time to show them you care, and that you value their custom.
You may even find that their needs are not being fulfilled and that is a gap in the market that you fill and deliver during and after the lockdown.
Supplier Relationship Building
This is also a great time to improve your relationships with your suppliers.
Right now, your suppliers may be worried about retaining their customer base including your business. A quick conversation with your supplier during this period, maybe reassuring to them and help build a better relationship.
You may even be able to take advantage of special deals and offers during the period, there is no harm in doing this as it will help to keep the lights on, and wages paid.
Staff Relationship Building
Of course, your most valuable relationship is that between you and each member of your staff.
It’s more important than ever to communicate effectively who’s your staff. They now more than ever, need your leadership and direction. ensure information is communicated quickly and effectively to your staff to keep them supported and onside throughout the crisis even those that have been furloughed.
For more tips please attend or webinar replay titled “Remote Control” which gives tips on how to and manage remote teams though this crisis:
#8 Build a pipeline
Do not stop building a pipeline of sales. where possible you should seek two eliminate the lag between the lockdown period and servicing your clients. To do this you need a healthy order book.
Your sales and marketing activity should continue throughout the lockdown period where possible.
Marketing activity is not an expense to be eliminated, but an investment which you should seek a definite return on. If you currently do not have a marketing strategy, then this is a great place to start.
Remember, your competitors may be marketing even if you aren’t.
#9 Develop a performance framework
Do you have a performance framework in your business? For any business serious about improving and growing you need one for each and every area of your business.
Your performance framework, should as a minimum be series of key performance indicators (KPI’s). Think of these as indicators on the dashboard of your car. They tell a story about the state of that area of your business.
Key performance indicators may include for your business turnover, sales against a target, costs against a target, leads generated, leads converted etc.
My background includes transforming businesses and performance as well as implementing performance frameworks in many businesses. If you wish to discuss how to implement or improve your own performance framework then reach out to me via free coaching session.
#10 Review your strategies
I have already mentioned about investing in your marketing strategy but this is not the only area of your business where work on strategies may be a priority now.
Our forthcoming webinar titled “The 3S’s of business” is a great start so identifying both gaps and areas of improvement NH area of your business.
Watch The Silver Linings Webinar
The information in this blog post is a summary of our “Silver Linings” webinar to watch the replay please visit https://event.webinarjam.com/register/19/k6ylxan
And is part of our free support package of coaching and webinars for full details and to register for webinars and free coaching please visit https://thecoachingcouch.co.uk/free-business-support/