There’s no denying that Covid-19 has hit small businesses the hardest and that many small business owners are struggling to deal with the negative financial impacts that the pandemic has wreaked on our communities and economies. Bigger businesses naturally have higher survival rates come any financial crises due to higher profit margins and funds, leaving smaller companies and their employees vulnerable. To guarantee survival, business owners need to be ready to make some hard decisions, re-strategize and adapt. Here are 6 tips for how to re-open your small business after lockdown and how to prepare for business, but not as usual.
Look at Your Competition
Looking to see what your competitors are doing and observing from afar is a great way to gauge the direction that you should be going in yourself. Make sure to set your sights further afield as well, by looking towards your indirect competition and businesses that aren’t in the same industry as you. Just because they offer a different product or service, that doesn’t mean that you cannot apply and implement their most effective strategies into your own business models. See how you can learn from others and understand how they are positioning themselves in the market. Using your observations, you can then slowly start the process of returning to normal while having an advantage over your direct competitors.
Reduce Any Unnecessary Expenses
During times of economic uncertainty, it’s vital to cut back where you can in order to save some cash reserves, which will allow you to return to your usual operations in full once lockdown restrictions have subsided. Run your business more efficiently and conservatively, and cut back in any areas that seem risky. This includes cancelling projects or marketing campaigns that you started prior to the pandemic, which may no longer work in the current economic climate. Look at your business plan and see how you can adapt it to temporarily focus on short-term cash flow to ensure that you are back on your feet as quickly as possible. Also, take advantage of any temporary discounts or government help while still available to give yourself some breathing space. Reducing and evaluating unnecessary expenses might be painful at first, but it will be worth it, allowing you to keep your business and employees afloat in the long run. It will also be a great experience to have in the future, not just during an economic crisis.
Audit Your Old Stock and Content
The virus has turned the world upside down, completely changing consumer behaviors and shopping habits. Therefore, it is essential to look at your products, services, and content to see if they are still relevant in the current climate. If not, you should think about how these could be re-worked and adapted to be profitable, serve your business best and to stay ahead of your competition.
Probably the most important thing you can do in times of economic and financial crisis to survive and thrive is to adapt to current circumstances – and fast. Unfortunately, things aren’t going to go back to normal anytime soon, or possibly ever, even with businesses getting the green light to re-open. Adapting to a ‘new normal’ is a phrase that has been thrown around a lot, but has never been more true, particularly within the fast-paced world of business.
If you don’t adapt, then you risk falling off the bandwagon completely, and while it is almost impossible to predict future market trends, you should use this time wisely to your advantage to re-optimise, re-strategize, and possibly even re-brand. Think about how you can accommodate new customers, their behaviours moving forward and the things that will matter to them the most. Can you digitise or diversify your product? Has your product or service become highly in demand thanks to the crisis such as products offering contactless technologies such as NFC tag and wristbands? If you are smart and able to capitalise now, then you will be in a much stronger position when the market stabilises.
Upskill Your Staff
Understandably most small businesses aren’t in the position to be hiring and recruiting right now, even if they need it. Train and invest in your existing staff to fill any potential gaps that you might have in your team instead. There are plenty of inexpensive and sometimes free online courses available, allowing your employees to multitask and focus on other areas of the business. It will also encourage staff to use their transferable skills and talents to help each other out, making your company altogether more efficient and productive, and all while on a reduced budget. Not only will this be good for your business, but also your staff, increasing their future prospects and opportunities, but also making them feel like valued contributors to the business. This will, in turn, also increase staff loyalty recognising you as a business owner who cares and invests in their employees. Look for courses online that will match your needs, and fill any current skill gaps while allowing your staff to safely social distance as they learn.
Focus on eCommerce
Even though eCommerce exploded a while ago and isn’t necessarily new, it is guaranteed to blow up and evolve on an unprecedented level. With the pandemic ultimately forcing major changes in consumer habits and behaviours, it has become glaringly apparent that the only businesses who have managed to thrive throughout the crisis are those we had already spent their time building up strong ecommerce platforms. In order to keep up with your competitors, and ever-changing consumer behaviours, it is crucial to focus on developing your online strategy and channels as well as overall customer outreach. With the majority of people still working and staying at home, think about how you can stay close to your target audience during a time when customers are less likely to visit traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. Be flexible, think outside the box, and play around with a few different strategies until you’ve found what works best for you. This new focus and flexibility could even give you the push you need to diversify, ultimately resulting in reaching out to a broader and untapped market, consumer base, and business growth.