When the world stops – what do you do next?
We’ve spent the past couple of weeks in a bit of a strange state as will have most businesses. Your priority should be your health and keeping your employees and families safe. However, we know many people are equally terrified by the economic impact of COVID-19.
One step at a time
Don’t try to do everything at once. The most important point is to try and remain focused on what you need to do to get through. That may be making the most of the Government schemes to ensure your staff is paid and you have a decent cash flow, whether it is through grants or a business interruption loan.
Once you have ensured that in the short term you are secure, you can then turn to what will happen in the medium and long term. This lockdown will end and it is important you have a plan in place for when it does but also to discover whether you can continue before that day comes.
Assess what you do
The impact of COVID-19 on your business will depend on a few key factors:
- What do you do
- What do you sell
- Where do you sell
- Who do you sell to
In this context, selling can mean a physical product such as clothing, or it could be a service such as training or events. Whatever it is, consider what it is that makes you money.
Look for where there are opportunities that can continue. Set these out, but be realistic.
Make a plan
While it may be that what you do has had to go on complete hold, there will be a time when this all will need to start up again. So you need to make decisions about what you will do now. If your business is affected, this could be to:
- Keep everything on hold
- Invest in some marketing so when things do resume, you are ready
- Find a way to pivot
Perhaps you have no choice but to keep everything on hold. However, should you really be doing nothing? What will your competitors be doing? This is a tough one as you may have limited funds to put back into either new services or activity to keep your business viable and visible, but you could risk out losing more in the future.
If you do decide to be ready to go for when everything goes back to normal, consider whether you want to be more targeted to try to occupy a particular corner of the market. Before all of this you might have had a more general strategy or even had ideas in place to grow particular aspects of what you do. This may have to change. SEO can support you by trying to improve your rankings for what you do want to focus on. If you start adding information to your website around these selected services you are going to target then ensure you have a content strategy in place to do it. Your time on this is going to be valuable so it is important to get it right.
A pivot could be what keeps you going through this and not only that, it could help you to grow. There are so many companies out there already pivoting and many have different reasons. Some are to support the NHS, such as breweries producing hand sanitiser, but others are doing it to keep afloat so they can carry on supporting their customers. While the environment has changed, there will still be demand in certain areas.
One example is a plant producer. With many people now on furlough for the next one or two months, they’re looking at catching up with their garden to-do lists. Instead of selling to garden nurseries, you could now move to B2C, selling directly to customers. Or you could offer training and this could be done through webinars or bespoke systems. There is no reason why these can’t continue once the isolation period is over so you could even then have two streams of revenue.
Ensure your online presence is up to date
If you have a website, make sure this is all up to date and reflects your current business activity. You don’t want to carry on taking orders if these can’t be fulfilled. As mentioned above, if you do plan to do SEO work on your website to maintain or improve your visibility, then have a strategy around this. Don’t panic and think you need to get as much on your website as possible. Being efficient and strategic will be the key to your success. You may also want to consider other ways to promote your business such as PPC or Facebook ads. We’ve written before about trying to decide which to do. Right now, ideally it would be all of the above.
If you haven’t got a website, then it is crucial you get one. You don’t have to put all of your business online but you at least need a digital equivalent of a shop front. It also doesn’t need to cost a huge amount of money. Avoid pre-built themes or DIY website builders as these still have a cost and you may end up having to invest in a bespoke website anyway, making what you do now a waste.
If you are worried about costs, ask for payment plans or if there is a way to keep costs low. Bespoke websites can always be scaled up in the future, but at least what you do now won’t have to be redone.
We are offering free calls with any business that wants advice on what to do. There are so many other companies out there offering their services or products free of charge or at a great discount. Do some research and don’t be afraid to ask for money off. Everyone understands the situation and the need to make savings.
Furthermore, there does seem to be a real sense of community about what is going on. There have been some sad stories about companies hiking their prices because demand is up. However, on the whole many are finding that as this situation is affecting everyone, there is an effort from each individual or company to do what they can to ease the pressure. Those who do behave badly during this time will be remembered.
Communicate with your audience
Whatever you decide to do, communication with your customers or clients will be important. You need to tell them if everything is on hold so they aren’t trying to get in touch and wondering what is going on. The more you communicate, the more likely you are to hold on to those customers in the future.
And if you do decide to pivot, you may keep those customers with you or even get new ones during this period.
Again, how you communicate with your customers or clients will depend on what you do. But online is going to be the most important platform for you at this point. Even if you like picking up the phone to some people, will they be able to answer? Or will they be juggling childcare at the same time?
There are many different channels for communication but you can stick to some simple ones such as emails and your own website. Social media will also be helpful as more people will have time to browse Facebook or Instagram. Ensure your messages are clear, you aren’t overcomplicating it and trying to make everything look too ‘designed’.
Remember, one step at a time
The above might feel overwhelming. This might be the third piece you have read today about what you can do to help your business survive. Just remember to take it one step at a time. All of this will end at some point and if you followed the above by assessing your situation and making a plan, it should feel less daunting.
If you are really unsure of what to do and need some expert advice, give us a call. Everything we do is about helping our clients to make money online. These may be different circumstances but the objectives and our tools are still the same.
We’ve already spoken to a number of companies and given them free advice, including persuading them not to use us as we thought they didn’t need to and they could save the money.
We’re not pitching our services, we’re simply pitching in.
Some reading to get you thinking
If you want to get started thinking about your next steps, have a read of some of our posts that may help.