Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, businesses around the world have faced some pretty tough times this past year. But that hasn’t stopped them. Instead, SMEs are constantly on the lookout for new and safe ways to deliver their products and services to customers.
While it’s impossible to predict the future, preparing for the worst is important during times of crisis. In this article, we’ll share some tips to bear in mind when your business faces challenging times.
#1: Be transparent
As a business owner, you’re probably used to keeping behind-the-scenes problems private. However, people who buy from you are interested in knowing what’s going on and, in some cases, what they can do to help support the business.
Use social media platforms to keep followers up-to-date. Post regularly and share photos describing how you’ve been affected and how you’re able to overcome challenges.
For example, if you run an online store and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is getting in the way of making timely deliveries, you can let followers know by posting an update about late shipping. You can even run a poll to see if people would like you to offer curbside pickup options.
#2: Pivot your business for recovery
Since you can’t go back in time to better prepare your business for the pandemic situation, the next best thing is to start planning ahead and move forward on the road to recovery.
COVID-19 has impacted businesses in different ways forcing them to rethink and re-evaluate their operations. Here are three questions to ask yourself for getting through tough times:
- What can we start doing? From launching new products to upgrading your website, every new idea should be put under the spotlight for brainstorming.
- What should we stop doing? This could be a product you can’t sell, services that you can’t provide, or a project that is no longer as important as other, more time-sensitive projects.
- What should we keep doing? Anything and everything that’ll help with the current situation and keep the business afloat. Recognize the ongoing need and figure out how your business can fulfill that need.
#3: Reach out to people
It might seem counterintuitive to invest in new marketing campaigns when your primary focus should be to get your business back on its feet. However, this doesn’t mean that you should stop marketing altogether. Try new, unconventional marketing strategies to reach out to people.
Here are a few ideas:
- Customer referral program. Enable your customers to bring in more people that will buy from you. Affiliates earn a reward for each referral which could be something as simple as a discount on their next purchase.
- Webinars and podcasts. Host your own podcast or join someone else’s to reach out to a wider audience.
- Content marketing. Implement content marketing strategies to boost engagement on your blog and potentially attract new audiences.
#4: Spread empathy
A global crisis is a scary and uncertain time for any business. It’s difficult for people to handle the stress and responsibility that comes with it.
Understand that people around you handle their problems differently, and listen to everyone’s problems from a neutral standpoint. Actively listening to people’s experiences makes it comfortable for them to share and connect with you on a deeper level.
To make yourself more approachable you can:
- Let people know how everything is affecting you and your loved ones so it’s more relatable for everyone.
- Tell people what’s actually going on behind the scenes and how you’re coping with the crisis.
- Share your fears with peers in hopes of creating a more trustworthy environment.
This will help you spread empathy and increase positivity through the workplace.
#5: Readjust your budget
As practically everything around you changes, it’s inevitable that your budget plan will also need to be adjusted. Here’s why: in a crisis, people’s demands change and businesses must reconsider their budget based on this change in demand. Start by converting fixed costs into variable costs.
Let’s say you rent a conference room for meetings every week. Consider hosting meetings on an online video conferencing app like Zoom. This eliminates conference room rent from the budget, reducing your fixed costs. Of course, you can always still rent out a conference room for important meetings making it a variable cost.
#6: Embrace digital technologies
Speaking of costs, taking your business digital is also a great way to reduce costs. By now, it’s evident that the future of business is going to be digital. Why not start now?
Embracing digital technologies is more efficient and more cost-effective. Most importantly, it allows you to automate routine processes.
The good news is that there are many technologies that will help you to step into the digital side of things. Ablii, for example, helps businesses manage their payments online, making it easy to send domestic and cross-border payments, reliably.
#7: Take action
Instead of flying away, pigeons close their eyes whenever danger is near. That’s an example of what not to do when facing a crisis.
For businesses, it’s crucial to take action as soon as you see disaster approaching. Failing to take action at the right time has a snowball effect on your problems. The situation will quickly start to get out of hand if you don’t do anything about it.
How is your business getting through tough times? Share your experiences in the comments section below.