How to come out the other side of a business nightmare
Gee, it’s rough out there in business land.
Every small business owner I chat with worries about the effect of COVID-19.
To their income and livelihood. Their employees. Their suppliers. And their customers.
And they are right to worry.
We’re in the midst of a pandemic. A scenario that would never have crossed our minds to plan for.
Is it too late? Are we all doomed?
If you listen to the media you’d think so. But, don’t stay in panic mode for too long. There’s work to do.
It’s time for action
Rather than feel hopeless, here are some things you can do to minimise impact and be ready for what’s next.
Now is not the time to stay silent and hope it will all go away.
You have to get on the front foot and communicate what you’re doing to keep things safe.
The three key audiences you have to worry about are:
- Employees (including casual staff and volunteers)
- Customers (and potential customers)
Tell them what’s happening, any impacts on service and how you can help.
Manage your expenses
It’s going to get tough. Sales may be lower or dry up altogether.
When the world is going to shit and panicking the theory of supply and demand comes into play.
No toilet paper on the shelf, demand skyrockets, and boom people are selling loo paper on eBay like its gold.
Its likely cost of goods will go up across the board which means profits will go down.
You need to keep a close eye on your prices.
Now’s not the time to keep spending either. Review your expenses and identify what can go.
- cut out automatic orders (you don’t want to be holding onto stock you can’t move)
- review subscription services – do you need them all?
- reduce hours of paid employees
Check your insurances
You may be covered under income protection insurance or business interruption insurance.
It’s worth talking to your broker to know what assistance you may be eligible for.
Review how you do business
If your business relies on face to face interactions, it’s time to rethink how you do things.
You need to come up with a way to get cash flowing in the door.
- What can you change?
- What other services can you offer?
- How can you provide services online?
I’ve heard of some great examples of cafe’s moving to delivery only.
Hairdressers selling at-home maintenance kits.
Book and ToyShops offering a home delivery service.
Trainers moving workshops online. Etc.Etc.
Get help where you can
Now is not the time to be proud.
- Apply for Government help.
- Ask your bank manager for an overdraft.
- Work out a deal with your landlord.
- Ask for a deferral on your mortgage repayments.
- Know your entitlements and what’s available through the small business stimulus.
- Take advantage of NSW Business initiatives and free guidance.
Tell people if you’re doing it tough. Communities will rally around you if they can.
And, if you do the math and it’s not in your favour, look at alternatives. You may need to do temporary work until normal programming resumes.
It’s tempting to hide and stay low with everything that’s going on. But if you do that, you’re going to be even further behind.
What if all this blows over in a few months and things go back to normal. How long would it take your business to ramp back up?
What if, there’s an opportunity for you to offer a new, different service that people need right now. They need to know about it right?
Consider pitching to your local media outlet, keeping active on social media, emailing your customers and prospects with offers.
If you’re a service business you may want to check out my earlier blog on marketing ideas to do when you’re quiet.
It will get better
Right now, it probably feels insurmountable and you could be wondering how on earth you’re going to get through this.
The truth is. You either will. Or you won’t.
But if you don’t look for the opportunities, you definitely won’t see them. And you won’t be ready when the world returns to normal.
All I know is that I’m going to give it my best shot of succeeding and if that means going off course for a bit to survive, so be it.
About the Author
Rebecca Cofrancesco is an experienced marketing strategist and content creator.
She works with professional services brands and offers freelance services without the overhead of a full-time employee.