Take a look through these tips to help your small business survive (and retain a sense of humour where possible).
Tip number one is to not panic. Panic doesn’t help anything and is more likely to harm your business than the virus itself.
Now, more than ever, it’s critical to communicate with your customers about what protective measures you’re putting in place and how they will be protected when they visit your business.
Let them know you are taking the situation seriously and care about their welfare. Make the communication about the customer though, not just about you. I saw one post where the business owner was telling people they didn’t want to get infected, so customers needed to ensure they didn’t have the virus before visiting. Yes, a valid point but the way it was worded would have put me off visiting even if I knew I was clear.
Take a tip from this gym who are retaining a sense of humour (love the last paragraph)
Look at your cash flow NOW
Cash is king. Do not wait until you run out.
Take a good hard look at your cash flow. How much do you have on hand and how long will it realistically last for? Can you make it last for six months or longer? If not, what can you do about it? How you cut costs or increase income. It’s time to get creative and think outside the box. More on this in a moment.
When was the last time you took a good hard look at where your money is going? Are there any areas that you can cut costs? Do you have online or magazine subscriptions that you don’t really use? Cancel or pause them. Are you paying too much for your insurance? Are you spending money on Facebook ads that have never got you a return on investment? Stop them!
Talk to suppliers and see if you can work together to find a way to ease the burden for you both.
Reduce what you pay yourself. Yes, it’s time to tighten your belt.
Look at your household budget also as to where you can make savings. Is now the time to switch energy supplier and get a better deal?
Again, how many subscriptions do you have. Do you really need Amazon Prime, Audible, Sky and Netflix? How about dropping one or more for a few months.
How often do you eat out or grab takeaways? If income is reduced, it’s time to start cooking fresh again (if you can get your hands on pasta and rice that is!). Look on the positive of how much healthier you will be.
Get creative with your marketing and services.
Now is the time to look at doing things differently. A few quick ideas are listed below:
Travel and tourism
The travel, tourism and hospitality businesses are being hit hard. So are those businesses that run workshops and conferences.
Where your business simply cannot deliver what you normally do, create vouchers for the future and promote the hell out of these.
This one is going to take some effort, but if you have clients who have had to cancel travel plans, how about offering a ‘holiday box’. Create holiday boxes for different countries. For France, you could include French wine, cheese, croissants and a recipe card for Coq au Vin or a voucher to a local French restaurant (providing they are still open!) Yes, this will take planning and may not be right for you or your business but it’s trying to come up with creative ideas for extra income.
Or how about a Live the Spanish Life card. Jot down what clients have to do each day for a week in a typical Spanish day. Include dressing up for mid-morning coffee and a light bite to eat, afternoon Siesta, sightseeing (suggest a video set in Spain), go for a stroll and eating tapas.
If you run workshops, think about running smaller groups and explaining that you will be keeping participants two metres apart.
If workshops etc cannot run, either because you need to cancel or the participant does not want to attend anymore, offer a credit note for a future date rather than a refund which will hit your bottom line.
Can you run the workshop via group video conferencing? Send everyone the materials they will need or ask them to get their own.
If you are in the food industry, can you do deliveries or offer take-aways. A pub/restaurant local to me has already set up a takeaway and delivery service. They are staying calm and thinking ahead!
Coaches and counsellors
If you are a coach or counsellor, continue sessions where possible via video conferencing.
Record do at home routines and send to members. Do a group online session – could be fun!
Create gift cards and vouchers. Sell your massage oils and products.
Offer gift cards for later use – this can apply to practically anything!
Is there anything you can start to sell online? Products are easy but even with services, how about doing some video tutorials and selling? Your loyal customers may be happy to purchase these from you to help support you.
If your clients are virus-free, assure them you are too and promote that cleanliness is even more important now.
Increase your marketing efforts
If more people are going to be at home, more people may have time to go online. Up your online marketing.
Ask customers to support you. There are still plenty of people who aren’t panicking and whilst they can, are going about their daily lives as normal. I saw a post for a pub that explained that they were starting to struggle. They explained what precautions they were taking and asked for people to support them. I visited them yesterday!
The day to day practicalities
If you employ staff, can they work remotely? Test out a system now rather than wait. Set up a remote work policy that covers when you expect your team to be online or available, how to communicate (via email, video call etc), and what each team member is responsible for.
Have an emergency plan
If you get the virus you need to be prepared.
Keep your database up to date of everyone you meet through your business. You will need to let them know if you become infected.
Let customers know what has happened, how long you will be closed for and when you will re-open. Assure them you will open only when you have had the all-clear and a deep clean has taken place
In a worst-case scenario, if your business goes on lockdown, use the time wisely. Do a full business review. What has been working and what hasn’t. What could you do differently?
I had a client call me who was in complete meltdown as her business is suffering terribly already. Once we got through the tears and panic, we came up with some ideas for the future that she would have never thought about otherwise. As she said ‘she was suicidal when she called me but finished up laughing and excited for the future.
You are not alone in this. There will be people far worse off than you are. You WILL get through this, however painful the process. Just keep things in perspective and if all else fails, remember the Buddhist chart to worrying:
P.P.S. If you would like a chat about how to help your business survive or help with your marketing get in touch