Whether we’re ready to accept it or not, the impact of Coronavirus on businesses is, and will continue to be massive. The UK Government have put in place billions of Pounds in support for businesses and individuals across the country.
While it is easy to lose focus and get into a slump about how bad things are, the reality is, we are all facing challenges. The question is, will you fight to survive?
Now is the time to take action and focus on keeping any momentum you can.
Here are our 8 tips for surviving the lockdown:
After the initial shock of closures, changes, clients pulling work or not paying invoices… the most important thing you can do is communicate.
To your customers – reassure them that you are there for them, or if unfortunately, you can’t be, let them know so they too can plan.
To your prospects – if you have outstanding proposals or a pipeline of activity, reach out to them and see how they are doing. Mention your proposal and gauge their ability to continue moving forward. Don’t just assume they no longer want to do any work with you. There are still plenty of opportunities out there!
To your team – reassure them, lead them, keep them connected to each other during this time. Build loyalty and trust so they feel like they are part of the company, not just working for it.
Be honest and transparent – whether it is good or bad.
2) Don’t panic, plan
Now is your chance to maximise these uncertain times. Plan your approach. Map it out and discuss it with your business partner, team member, business coach etc. If you panic, you lose focus. If you plan, you gain focus.
A few key things to focus on:
Business funding – by now you have likely self-assessed whether you are eligible for some form of business support. Unfortunately, not all business structures are included (at this time), but you need to do your research to see what you can apply for. Here is a link to all the business support currently available. Take advantage of this if you can.
Cash flow – cash is king… be sure you know how to manage your cash flow -in particular your expenses and liabilities. Even if you’re not earning the levels of income you were before the lockdown, chances are you still have plenty of outgoings. Minimise these as much as you can.
Projects & Pipeline – how many outstanding invoices do you have? As tricky as it is during this time, contact your clients who owe you money. They may not be able to pay all of the invoice, so offer them a payment plan. This could be over a set period of time (say 3 months) or as a lump sum with a % discount. If you have outstanding proposals, follow up on them and think about ways you could amend them to sweeten the deal.
Ways of working – if operating your business as normal costs more than you are earning, maybe consider reducing your normal operating hours to cut down on some of the expense. Many companies are working from home, and though this presents challenges, focus on how you can maximise your team’s output in this new way or working.
3) Keep selling
Although it seems like the world has just been put on hold, the reality is many businesses are operating as normal. They may have changed the way they work, but there are still opportunities to sell.
Marketing is crucial to be ahead of the game – standing still is the same as going backwards… but in our current situation it means inevitable collapse. You should be marketing your business now more than ever. While others are closing shop, you need to be promoting, scooping up the business and clients that are looking for a new home.
Focus on building loyalty with your brand, use your ‘free time’ to update your website and create content. Make sure that through all of this you are still visible. Because when it’s all over, you may be one of the few businesses still standing and you want the customers of those who have folded to remember you.
If you fear that your core offering isn’t selling, or you aren’t able to offer the same service as before… it’s time to pivot. Add a new product or service to your portfolio or adapt a current offering. Leverage this to keep cash flowing and bear in mind this offers additional revenue once things are back to “normal” again.
5) Take a break
Catastrophizing never helps. If you spend your time consumed by the news and media surrounding COVID-19, you can easily slip into negative thinking and lose focus on your business. Try limiting yourself to 1-2 news updates per day, seeking out only the information that will help you plan your next steps.
It is also important to recognise that you may have extra time on your hands. Allow yourself a break, relax a little, and allow your body and mind to rejuvenate. It may give you that little extra boost of energy to push through this crisis.
6) Stay connected (virtually of course)
Now more than ever we should be staying connected. The majority of us are in a similar situation. Now is time to reach out to your network, join or form support groups. Become a guru of video conferencing and use that to your advantage to make new connections.
Run webinars, post more often on social media, produce more content to create dialogue. In a time when everyone is online (even more than before) we need to take advantage of it.
7) Empower your team
For some of you the idea or managing a remote team is daunting. It may never have been the way things were done before, and that can bring its own set of challenges. Just remember that your team need to feel that you can rely on them. That you trust them and can empower them to make decisions even when not sitting in an office.
You may need to loosen the ropes a bit and allow them to make bigger or more significant decisions. When the day comes for them to get back into the office, they will come back stronger than before. More confident, and ready to deliver to a higher standard.
8) Be flexible
If I hear that we are living in ‘unprecedented times’ one more time, I may go insane. But, since we are, I think it is important that we are all more understanding and flexible with each other.
There may be instances where your clients can’t pay an outstanding invoice. Having compassion and offering an extension, or payment plan is a great way to maintain a relationship. They will remember that, they will be loyal to you, and one day you may be in a similar position and need a helping hand.
There are many other ways to be flexible, perhaps by reducing the prices of some of your services or products during this time to keep making sales. Extending timelines for projects and deliveries without cost implications. Being sensible about how you and your team’s family situation has changed due to schools be shut. Working hours may need to change to accommodate.
Flexibility in areas that are impacted by the coronavirus are a necessity. Being stubborn about keeping the status quo won’t get you very far.
There is no easy way out of this massive disruption to the economy and public health. No matter what measures are taken in the short-term, there will inevitably be a long-term impact on the country, economy, and our businesses.
We can’t fix it all, and neither can the Government. As much as they are able to assist, we must also do our part and be proactive in how we will overcome these challenges and spot the opportunities.
Yes, many businesses will close, and many people will lose their jobs. Unfortunate? Yes. Avoidable? Not anymore. So, while we may not like it, we don’t have a choice, so we might as well try and make the best of it.
If you need any support with marketing your business, revamping your website or solidifying your brand, feel free to contact us. We are offering a free consultation on your brand and website for anyone who has been impacted by the steps the Government has taken to close non-essential businesses during this time.