As I sit at my desk in March of 2020 my notifications are all related to how the growing concern around the Coronavirus is affecting thousands of businesses globally and my news feed shows me that this scare is winning the attention of just about every conversation on the planet right now.
The real question for many of us – is what shall I do about it? How does this impact me?
For many – on a personal level, it means to reduce travel, increase personal hygiene and avoid any unnecessary points of contact with contaminated surfaces. But, as a business owner, how do you navigate the inevitable challenging reality of the months ahead?
Thinking of the thousands of businesses I have served through the years, I figured that I would put myself in their shoes and consider the proactive and purposeful actions I could consider to keep the wheels turning.
1. Think about your EXISTING customers
As challenging as this time may be for you, your current customer base is likely to be hurting too. What are the worries that exist in their world now? How can you reduce or provide for those worries?
The most important thing you can be to your customers right now is USEFUL.
At one end, this may mean helping to create provisions for a product or service they may run low on, on the other hand, it could simply be making them aware that you are aware of the current risks and are taking every action to reduce them for your customers.
2. Initiate Remote Working for employees
With reports that employee sickness will inevitably rise, the potential loss of work hours in your business could be significant. Many employees would love the ability to work from home and the current circumstances provide you with the opportunity to trial this and see if it is a long term solution.
3. Reduce unnecessary spending
With future revenues being less certain than before, it is a great time to look at all current expenditure and think about any line items that do not add value to your current and future plans.
Perhaps you signed up to subscriptions and you rarely use the service, perhaps you have dozens of domain names you will never use or maybe you are paying for space that will unlikely get utilized in the near future.
4. Develop a new product/service offering
In times of change then it pays to get creative.
Could you consider an alternative way of delivering value to an audience? Could this be the perfect time to deliver your online course? Have you been meaning to develop a virtual or e-commerce offering.
Don’t wait for your current sales to dry up before you look for something new.
5. Pick up the phone (sanitize it first)
The key in challenging times is to communicate like a pro. You know how easy it is for something to be taken out of context and when tension is high, relationships really do make the biggest difference.
Whether it is clients, prospects, suppliers or team members then it could well be the time to not hide behind a keyboard and instead, go old school and have a good old fashioned conversation, laced in empathy and something that thinks about their circumstances as well as yours.
With free flowing conversation it’s possible to find creative solutions around almost any challenge.
6. Refine and improve internal processes
If your business is like mine, you have probably a list of things you have been waiting for a good time to work on. From re-working your web copy, to documenting processes or even preparing your tax documentations. If you have been thinking of working on something for a while, and you know it’s important, why not bury your effort in something practical and meaningful whilst we learn the real extent of the situation?
7. Take a long-term view
Above all else, if you are looking for your business to survive in the long term, make every decision with the long term in mind.
Protect the relationships, stand by your values and do what’s right by the people that you care about.
After all, business is a part of life, but it’s not the only part.