We are now mostly working from home and being asked quite rightly to stay at home to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus. If you are a business owner or manager like myself, you will find yourself with a little more time on your hands after hours and on weekends. I thought I would offer you some practical change management tips to ensure your business bounces back strongly when the world returns to some sort of normality.
1. Monitor for Opportunities
A crisis of this magnitude is going to require a lot of Government support from all levels. This response will be in stages: stimulus, protection, and recovery. Cash injections to consumers and businesses give opportunities for some businesses to present offers to supply goods and services to attract that stimulus spend.
Protection support may present the opportunity for small business to maintain staff and ride out the down time. Be sure you are aware of what is available before making large decisions on your most important expenses: your staff, your marketing, your supply chain.
Recovery support will be in the form of grants and interest free loans to small business to ensure they get back on their feet quickly and gear themselves for a similar impact in the future. Grants to businesses to develop a new website or ecommerce capability is a possible example.
Follow Government sources of information and keep an open conversation with your accountant and other advisors whose job it is to keep up to date with the latest announcements. One local opportunity is the Innovators Lunch who are now holding weekly briefings via Zoom from Federal, and Local Government, as well as Hunter iF.
Opportunities also exist in collaboration. Can you see a business with a need that you can fulfil even if it requires a change to your offering. Look at other businesses and their problems and think of ways you can provide a solution using your capabilities, assets, and resources.
Now is the perfect time to strengthen your business by upskilling yourself and your team. Are there any skills you would like to develop or improve? Do you want to learn website development code to be better able to manage your own website? Do you want to lean SEO or AdWords, or social media marketing so you have a better understanding of how they work and how you can make them work for your business? Are there more specific skills related to your service? There are a lot of online courses provided by Corsera, EDx, Udemy, Linda and others that are inexpensive and accessible from your desktop or mobile device.
Increase your knowledge by researching blogs, listening to podcasts, and reading business books. You might find this list of our business book reviews useful.
3. Plan & Prepare
It is difficult to plan in times of great uncertainty however a good use of down time is to think about what you need to do when the lights turn green on the economy. Are you a business that will experience a rush of volume? Do you know how you are going to fulfil the sudden high demand? Do you need to plan how to reboot in terms of onboarding staff, training, and understanding what resources you will require? Start putting together plans that are ready to implement when the time comes.
Another aspect of planning is your marketing strategy. You can spend time developing a marketing plan now that the game as changed. You could also spend time planning your marketing content and schedule it so that when you come back online your marketing content is ready to deploy.
Now you have a plan, you can prepare the content. Research and write your blog posts, or get your notes to your content writer or marketing agency who is supporting you. Write your social media copy, find effective images, write video scripts. Write your how-to articles, your product features, work on new recipes. Get all this in order so you can be ready to fire when recovery begins, or during because during these times it is very important to stay connected with your customer base.
For you this may be the time for reflection and review. Have a look at your website, is the content up to date? Is there anything missing? Is there a function or capability you can add? Have a look at your social media channels. Are they looking as good as they can be. Is the information current. Don’t forget your Google My Business profile.
Another thing to do is Google searches for your products and services. Are you happy with how you look in SERPs (search engine results pages)? As website developers and digital marketers, it is very common to hear businesses say “my website is out of date”, “hasn’t been updated for ages”. The same can be said about Social Media accounts.
Now is not the time to pull down the blinds and hide until the nasty pandemic goes away. Now is the time to be present to your audience and client base. They want to know you are there for them and are in it together with them. Reach out to your clients and customers. Communicate regularly via offers or other valuable content relevant to your products and services. Even if it is a simple social media post once per week with a positive statement shows you are on your feet and ready to run when the time comes.
It is important to keep your visibility up. Now is not the time to stop your digital marketing. If you do you will create a vacuum and your competitors will fill the void and form new relationships. Look for content opportunities, particularly ways to open conversations with your audience and form a bond in troubled times. A fairly easy and effective way of doing this is to take a leadership position and inform and educate your audience with information that helps them. Health and safety reminders and how-to use online tools are two examples.
The business world has been completely disrupted. You need to innovate already in terms of remote working arrangements and the structure of work. How else can you innovate to take advantage of the new normal? Are there any products or services that you can deliver digitally? Consider the use of streaming video to offer customer service and support. Can you do video consultations? Clothes fittings? Or open access sessions? If you provide training there are great Learning Management Systems that can be built for courses delivered online. Can you offer your expertise to the public via ticketed online seminars? For example chefs giving cooking lessons, artists giving art lessons.
We have seen some great examples of musicians going from live gigs to streaming online performances for free. On one level they are providing much needed love and entertainment in trying times. On another level they are gaining a lot of new fans that will be ready to reward them with albums sales, streaming royalties, and tickets and merchandise when they can tour again. Another great example is the wineries and craft breweries repurpose their production lines to make hand sanitiser.
7. Keep Active
The last tip is possibly the most important and it isn’t directly about business. It is about you. It is really important to keep active in mind and body during this time. It is a challenging time that requires a positive growth mindset and a healthy body to get through and thrive on the other side.
It is a great strategy to set goals and use a habit tracker to help you do something active on a daily basis physically and mentally. Regardless of where you live it is currently possible to drive to a quiet area for a walk, use home weights or improvised gym equipment.
Mentally set some goals of things you would like to learn. You might want to learn a foreign language, a musical instrument, or conquer a daily crossword. You might want to catch up with that pile of books you haven’t had the time to read. Establish a routine or try as much as possible to maintain your pre-COVID-19 routine. These suggestions will go some way in helping you maintain good physical and mental health.
I hope that these survival tips offer something that you can use for yourself and in your business life in the time of Coronavirus. If you have any tips of your own, please leave a comment. If you need any help getting any aspect of your business online, if you are wanting any marketing advice or implementation, or want to take the opportunity to redevelop your website please contact me for a Zoom meeting or phone call.