by Dr Greg Chapman
Businesses large and small have been hit hard by the economic shutdown during this pandemic, probably harder than any time in the post war period. Some sectors harder than others, but there are steps owners can take to ensure that not only do they survive, but they also thrive when we all come out of this.
1. Check your financials.
Most businesses have had a big hit to their revenue. Some don’t have any revenue at all. Firstly, check what expenditures can be cut. Can some payments like rent and tax be re-negotiated or deferred? What don’t you need right now? Find out what government assistance is available. What financial reserves do you have?
Once you have this information, create a monthly cashflow forecast of all revenue and expenses, then examine each line item and see what you can do to extend the time before you will deplete your reserves. Then consider some of the initiatives below to improve revenue and extend that time further.
2. Re-imagine Your Business.
Clearly, we can’t keep on doing things the same way. If you are a services business, a large part of your business may be able to be done online. Are you set-up to do this? People who preferred the face-to-face approach may now be willing to receive services remotely. If you are providing personal services, what hygiene changes can you make to re-assure clients?
If you are selling products, the kind customers like to be able to inspect for themselves, what can you do to give them re-assurance? One appliance store is enabling customers to have video calls with their sales team who are able to not only explain the features of each brand, but able to show customers every nook and cranny of the appliance, as if they were in the showroom themselves. In some ways, this is superior customer support than they would normally get in store, while waiting for a sales person to become available.
Some of these changed habits could continue post lockdown for great benefit to you and convenience to clients. For example, appliance showrooms could be located in low cost industrial estates rather than in expensive retail locations.
3. Keep in touch with clients
Just because your clients may be in lockdown, don’t assume they don’t still need your services. And even if they can’t use them right now, make sure they still remember you when this is all over. Provide information that is not only relevant to your products and services but also useful to them during this difficult time.
For the appliance store example, perhaps videos on how to most effectively use their refrigerator storage when you are stocking up for the lockdown.
4. Sharpen the axe.
There has never been a better time during this enforced hibernation to learn new strategies and doing the things to improve your business that you have been putting off because you were so busy.
Seek out online training, whether it’s on marketing, sales or any other business strategy, or if you prefer to learn another way, get some books on these topics. Do what I do, and scribble your notes all over them, dog ear important pages, and when you finish, write down what you have learned and what you will change in your business.
5. Prepare for relaunch.
Business may never be the same again, and the biggest mistake may be to assume it will be. How will your customers have changed? What new opportunities have you identified while re-imagining your business. What new strategies will you be implementing?
I know of a traditional grocery store that has gone to online orders for the first time in decades of operation. I’m sure that they will continue this after the lockdown is all over, as it’s a great way to ensure that they retain customers and capture all their business.
Have a plan for relaunch. What can you do now, particularly as regards to moving to more remote systems, that will streamline your business and transform they way you will grow it? This will likely increase productivity and reduce costs. People who can help you do this mostly operate remotely themselves and can help you right now.
Lay out the steps, the resources and the support you will need right now. There will never be a better time…..(hopefully)!
May Your Business Be –As You Plan it!
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Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Charge More Without Losing Sales.
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