Great news! Even in the face of shelter at home policies leading to reduced commerce, opportunities abound for small businesses. I work with thousands of companies across numerous industry segments who are members of my business exchange, so I’ve had the opportunity to see a wide array of reactions from business owners dealing with this difficult economic situation. I wanted to share some of the general trends I’m seeing that are proving to be the most helpful in both the short-term, and in preparation for a more profitable future.
10. Overhaul your digital resources (or maybe build them for the first time)
This first item isn’t so much of a trend as it is a vital necessity. Whether you’re looking at digital resources relative to how your business and its employees operate, or how you handle social media and lead generation, the Coronavirus is a catalyst that will permanently impact how business operates in the future. Everybody needs to learn, implement, and utilize the available tools that are the best fit for their business. Even companies with established digital footprints need to adjust how they’re using what they have. Good marketing and lead generation software, Social Media campaigns, virtual meeting and networking tools, and a solid CRM system is just the first step. The companies who are most quickly implementing a plan on how to use these tools in a cohesive manner within our new business paradigm seem to be faring the best at maintaining their revenues.
9. Use your downtime to remove impediments to business efficiency
Nearly every one of us entrepreneurs went into business for ourselves with a plan on how we were going to be successful. We jumped in and realized we hadn’t quite planned for everything; some of our processes weren’t as effective as we hoped they’d be. We all had the best intentions to fix those rough spots so we could be more efficient; however, that correction always seemed to fall down the list of priorities relative to more urgent matters. Some of the more proactive (and successful) companies are using this time to tackle those projects now. They are using the hindsight of their own experience to refine and adjust their tactical strategies and operational processes.
8. Explore new opportunities and avenues
When your business revenue slows down and you have excess capacity, look for new revenue sources. Look at what’s related to your business that you can develop into a new product/service offering. I have one client that converted his equipment courier service into an outsourced food delivery business for local restaurants and grocers. Another business was focused on aerial drone video coverage for public events; they’ve recently adjusted to providing video tours for the residential real estate market. Take off the blinders and brainstorm all the possibilities.
7. Re-Focus on your core competency
In contrast to tip #8, some companies that don’t have easily transferable abilities decide to re-dedicate themselves to a very specific function in which they excel and are profitable. They streamlined themselves and are dominating that niche space. A general contractor decided to focus on a very specific aspect of kitchen renovations enabling them to find direct work as well as sub-work. A law firm I work with dropped all secondary practice areas and is heavily marketing themselves only to real estate law market opportunities.
6. Expand your business
Many of the most successful businesspeople in our country’s history were the ones who took advantage of opportunities during the worst times. Think the Rockefellers consolidated and hung tight during the great recession? Absolutely not! I’m seeing some companies take advantage of the inexpensive (and now common) virtual working environments and the recent layoffs. They are hiring highly qualified people you couldn’t even find a few months ago. They’re expanding their operations and their geographical reach. If you have the funds to manage it, this is a great time to expand because you can take advantage while the competition is hunkering down. When things turn around, you’re looking at potentially dominant market share gains.
5. Barter to cut cash expenses
Barter is the oldest form of commerce, and trust me, it’s still very prevalent in the 21st century; even more so during this time period because it enables companies to save a ton of cash. Several sources are reporting that Barter is up 25-35% in the past month alone. That equals hundreds of millions of dollars being saved by getting the things you want and need via non-cash transactions. There are numerous ways to barter your goods/services for things your company needs. You can use a modern barter business exchange like my company, or you can take the time to work within your community to find 1-on-1 partners. You can even look at using your credit card points and mileage balances to obtain the things you need. The point is to use every resource available to obtain the things you need without spending cash. Get creative with Barter!
4. Convert your area of expertise into online learning
This is probably one of the more common tactics I’ve seen from many businesses. You’d be amazed what people sheltering at home are interested in learning about. I’ve seen caterers start offering cooking classes, Landscaping supply companies producing gardening classes, and I even have a dog training company start offering group classes and one on one training sessions online. If you have a business directly impacted by social distancing, showcase how you do what you do online for some marginal revenues with little costs.
3. Advertise – Advertise – Advertise
Unfortunately, advertising usually gets classified as non-essential because it’s not directly tied to keeping the doors open. The reality is that right now is when companies need to be doubling down on their marketing and advertising. Get your brand in front of your local community early and often during this period of fear and ambiguity; people will latch on with a steel grip. The companies I see doing this are generally getting immediate rewards, but I’m expecting the rewards to grow exponentially once things settle down. People are going to remember the companies who were consistently in front of them during the Covid-19 shutdown. I don’t care what mediums you use, just make sure to keep getting your name out there consistently.
2. Make customer service your priority (more than usual)
Satisfied customers drive new business more so than ever right now. Customers are eager to help you and your business; don’t give them any reason not to. When looking at how to save money, make sure the impact to taking care of the customers is minimal.
1. Act purposefully with Perseverance and Courage
Out of all 10 tips, this is probably the most impactful based on what I’m seeing. The highest performing companies have business leaders that make a conscious decision to keep trudging ahead with a positive outlook. They stay in productive action rather than sticking their head in the sand. Not only does the activity produce results, but the attitude is infectious to the employees and it carries over to the customers making them feel safer and more comfortable.
Lastly, because my core competency as the owner of Tradebank of Atlanta is matching companies to put deals together in a multi-directional format, I feel I am in a unique position to be of great help to my community during this Coronavirus pandemic. If you are interested in learning more about how to take advantage of the opportunities described in this article, please feel free to reach out by clicking my picture link below and setting up a brief introduction with me. No obligations, No risk. My mission is to be of maximum help to my community.