The Covid-19 pandemic came like a wave of tsunami and hit the lives of many people, and businesses too are affected. As a business owner, you may have to consider Plan B or pivot your current way of doing business to keep it going.
Here are several ideas to keep your business in the blue.
Manage your credit flow. Most businesses go bust or face financial difficulty during bad economic situations because of how they manage their business procurement process. Instead of giving a credit term, ideally, ask for an advance payment before a project or work commencement. This way, you will secure both your payment as well as a seal of commitment from your client. Alternatively, offer a month-on-month pay as you go. If all fails, ask for a nominal percentage upfront payment before starting on the project.
Get creative with your marketing efforts. If your business focuses only on a niche area or focuses on a small group of clients, diversify your business offerings or a perk for them to sign with you. This way, you do not have to rely only on one income stream. For example, a social media agency can provide consultancy on content marketing or web management as an integrated solution for the client.
Switch from offline to online. As business owners, we value face-to-face and networking events because of the huge business opportunities we can reap from meeting potential customers and partners. When faced with a pandemic, social distancing is the way to go to prevent the spread of the disease. So, take advantage of technology and go online. Use apps such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, or Facebook LIVE to conduct your pitching, presentations, monthly updates, etc. How about the good old phone call, video calls, or WhatsApp to discuss proposals that are sent via emails? It is all about how you bring out your ideas and solutions to your clients. If they believe in you, they will buy from you.
Do not cut back on marketing. Unfortunately, cutting your marketing budget entirely may not be the best strategy. This is the time to continue promoting your products and highlight how it can help your customers make decisions. Go onto social media and promote your products and solutions. It is essential to continually raise your brand awareness during these times so that your clients will be reminded of you when things get better. Be strategic in your marketing spend during a recession. Focus on one or two that will reach your target audience.
Consider zero budget marketing. In my previous article, I shared ten zero budget marketing strategies for start-ups, which can be applied to most companies during an economic downturn. Do storytelling through blog pieces and share how your products and solutions can help your clients’ businesses thrive during this time. Put up your customer feedback and testimonials strategically on your social media platforms or website. Work with a partner to cross-sell your products and solutions or work on projects together. Remember, the only way forward is to think rationally and focus on collaboration rather than competition.
Decide on your manpower needs. We all know the right talent is hard to come by. If you can, consider shifting your talent resources to do other productive work or a new job role. Not only will you help them develop a new skill but also gives you a reason to help retain your best talents, albeit probably a small cut in their monthly salary. However, if layoffs and retrenchment are unavoidable, consider engaging an agency that can help your work. E.g., hire a social media manager to help manage your social platforms or a reliable freelance web designer to carry out your website maintenance. Speak to several boutique PR agencies who can help you with integrated marketing at a fraction of a cost.
Develop a new routine. It may be difficult for most of us who are used to dressing up and getting to the office every morning or having client call meetings daily. The good news is – this does not have to stop. Being on remote work or working in isolation at home should not stop you from bringing out the best in you and your business offerings. You can develop a new routine such as waking up early as per usual, set your schedule for meetings and breaks in between. The best part, you can still present your solutions to your clients, in your comfy pyjamas and make-up free face and still clinch the deal.
Acquire new knowledge. The slow economic downturn is a good time to upgrade ourselves with new skills and knowledge. Choose from a plethora of credible local and overseas training institutions and universities for their list of courses and qualification programmes offered via eLearning and webinars. Some courses are also free such as those on LinkedIn Learning – so take advantage of the slow period to gain some knowledge and keep up with the latest in education and training. These may come in handy when the economy picks up, and the new knowledge you learned during the slowdown will now come in handy.
Unfortunately, no amount of readiness can help make our business recession-free. Nevertheless, there are small steps to help you thrive. By practicing these tips, there is still hope at the end of the dark tunnel. All you have to do is to work on them, and it may help you keep your head (business) above water.