In these unprecedented times, I just wanted to quickly share some business strategies you can implement during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure your business survives and even get ready to come out fighting.
First, I want to send out best wishes to all the small business owners out there who are doing it tough.
I can’t imagine any small business owner, whether or not you have had to shut your business, who hasn’t seen an effect on their business.
Even if you haven’t had to shut, the unprecedented fall in foot and other traffic would have had a critical effect on income, and your staff may have had to be stood, down, laid off, or been unable to leave self-isolation to get to work. In one way or other all small businesses would have been affected.
However, there are things you can do to lock down your business and prepare it to restart when the restrictions are lifted.
The first thing to realise is that you have to look after your finances.
The most obvious thing to do is to conserve cash. Look at your discretionary spending and reduce as many as you can. Negotiate with suppliers to see if you can reduce payments or increase terms – this goes for your rent as well. In many instances, local governments are providing subsidies for utilities – take advantage of them.
Make sure you gather in your cash. Look to collect receivables as quickly as you can, converting them to cash. Look at completing any work in progress so that it can be boiled and collected, and look at releasing the cash stored in inventory – sell your stock through mail order or click-and-collect models.
Despite the mental pressure on you every day, take time to prepare a cash forecast and approach your bank early to make sure you get their support.
Finally, take advantage of government support. Here in Australia, find out about the Conornavir=us Economic Boost Packages and JobKeeper subsidies and talk to your accountant about how you can access these.
The second strategy you can implement is to nurture relationships.
This is an extremely stressful time, so look after yourself and the best way of doing this is to make sure that you stay close to family and gain strength from their support.
Make sure that you are reinforcing relationships with your team. If they are working from home, don’t let them feel alone. Stay in constant touch. Organise web-conferences for the whole team so that everyone can check in with each other as well as get instructions and discuss ideas on projects.
Also important is to stay in touch with your customers. Consider sending out newsletters or really use your social media to stay in touch. Let them know you are still around and can still satisfy their needs, even if it is through remote or contactless methods. Now, more than ever, keep them informed about new ways of doing things and new products.
The third strategy is to stay on top of new developments, in readiness to change your plans or take advantage of opportunities.
Watch the media for new about any legislative changes that could help you. The Tax Office has announced several changes to deadlines and these may help you keep up with your compliance when you are short-staffed. Watch for changes to any subsidies so that you can register as appropriate.
You should also keep an eye on changes to your market. What is happening to your industry and your customers? Their buying habits changing may mean you need to meet those changes. Better to stay nimble now than react too late.
And finally, make sure that you are on top of what’s happening inside your own business – what are the financial indicators? How do your employees feel?
The fourth strategy – unbelievable as you may think – is to look for opportunities.
I’m sure you’ve heard so much about how businesses should “pivot” or change their way of doing business.
This may well provide you with new opportunities.
For example, how well have you embraced online trading? There are online trading websites that you can use to pivot to an online model like Shopify. Even if you didn’t have the skills to fuu=lly develop an online platform, you can already sell products through eBay or Amazon or even Facebook Market Place.
What about click-and-collect models? There’s nothing to stop you taking website or telephone orders and fulfilling them using a click-and-collect model.
If you are providing advisory services, use web portals lie Hightail Spaces or shared file systems like Dropbox to collect client information and provide your advice through web-conferences.
When you look for opportunities, don’t only look at different ways of doing what you do – make sure you also consider your whole core business. If distilleries can pivot to producing hand sanitiser, why can’t you pivot your core business?
Okay, so there are at least four strategies you can implement now to keep your business going.
I just wanted to give you these quick ideas because small business has never been under this sort of attack before.
Let’s fight back!
Let’s make sure we equip ourselves with the best strategies to survive and come out fighting!
All the best to all of you!