There’s no doubt at all that Coronavirus represents a significant challenge for many small businesses. Non-essential shops are no longer able to open. Restaurants are, at the time of writing, only able to offer a takeaway service. Suppliers to the events industry no longer have events to supply. Quite simply, our businesses are not what they were, just a few short weeks ago. So what can you to do to help your business in times of crisis?
The following is by no means an exhaustive list, and nor does it provide any guarantee of success – with the world as we know it at the moment, nobody can provide that. But it is designed to give you things to think about. And things to apply to your own business to help it through.
Do a deep-dive
It’s really important that you start with a detailed analysis, both in terms of your products/services and how you’re going to be able to function operationally. The first task when trying to help your business in times of crisis is to figure out a way of how you can keep it going. In some form at least.
For example, we found ourselves unable to deliver our usual face to face events, so we agreed an amended format that would allow us to deliver them online. You might find yourself with some weak points in your supply chain – so it’s vital to act quickly to strengthen them, or at least mitigate any problems.
Think about your customers
We are all going through a tough time. There’s no denying that. And the businesses that recover the quickest are most likely to be those who can add real value to their customers, and to support them through their own time of crisis.
So it’s important to take some time to consider your customers. For example, if you’re a wellness therapist, your first instinct might be that you cannot continue because you can’t actually see your customers in person. So, could you flex your business model to teach your customers? If you taught your customers even a small technique, this not only becomes a revenue stream, but it can also add more value by allowing your customer to share the knowledge they gain with their family.
Upgrade your technology
Coronavirus means, at the time of writing, that we are unable to leave our homes. But fortunately, we live in a highly technology-enabled world. However, for whatever reason, you may not have made the most of it within your business so far.
So if you’ve been contemplating buying a tripod to level-up your social media videos, figuring out what Zoom or Google Hangouts are actually all about, or even getting to grips with AI, now is the time. We are all going to have to provide some level of online customer experience if our customers are unable to connect with us in person.
Upgrade your skills
The same goes for your skills. We all have a wish list when it comes to developing our skills and experience, whether you tick things off it regularly, or not! It might be learning new techniques for a service that you already deliver. Perhaps it’s upskilling in more operational areas like social media or copywriting. In terms of delivery, you could sign up for an online course or workshop. Or attend an event with a guest speaker, like our Get Connected events.
Let’s face facts – Coronavirus is serious. We are virtually locked down. People are losing loved ones at a growing rate. And it feels weird to be trying to maintain a business when your customers clearly, and rightly, have other priorities. But we all have a job to do. We all have to keep things going. And that’s not something we should apologise for.
The wisest move here is to consider adopting a change of tone. It’s clearly not appropriate to be pushy at the moment when it comes to sales. Instead, focus on how you can support people and contribute to the global effort which will be required to return us to ‘business as usual’.
There’s definitely no quick fix. No clear ‘how to’, to help your business in times of crisis. There are definitely no guarantees. And it’s true that many businesses are going to struggle. But try to be flexible, creative and open to ideas. And don’t forget that you’re not on your own. Reach out. Connect with people. Seek and provide support. And remember that we, and our community, are here for you too.
And most importantly, keep yourselves and your loved ones safe.