We’re in week 5 of the lockdown now, and continually discovering just how much the Covid-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc in every area – the economy being no exception. Does this that mean we can only focus on the survival of our businesses when the pandemic’s over, and put all thought of growth on the back burner till then? I’m going to say a massive NO to that idea. Let’s not be in denial about the current climate we’re facing – we absolutely must school ourselves on the reality of the situation and how it’s affecting everyone. But part of that education is also being aware of what the predictable patterns are that tend to manifest in times of crisis: Denial, then anger, then blame. Now, whilst anger is sometimes a brilliant fuel for motivating ourselves to succeed, do you think this particular pattern will really be the fire your business can thrive on? Definitely not. That pattern will act as a countercurrent to success, obstructing entrepreneurs from making the big decisions that will ultimately propel their business forward, or stifle it to a standstill – and as we know, in business you’re either growing or dying.
So the first most important thing you need to do is accept the situation – and bloody quickly. Now you’ve done that, you can get your thinking cap on, shake the fear of failure off your shoulders and get to work.
Though that sounds easier said than done, considering this fact should inject a fair amount of positivity about what you really can do to keep moving your business forward.. The COVID-19 crisis has affected everyone, and consequently every business. Therefore, the playing field between global giants and SMEs across all industries has been levelled. Now’s the time to formulate a strategy that can withstand – and surpass – the Covid-19 standstill. Okay, I hear your bellowing your question at me through the screen – BUT HOW, FOR F*** SAKE?!
Finances, Finances, Finances.
I cannot emphasize enough just how crucial it is to zero in on company spending right now and keep an eagle-eye on the finances. We’re in this for the long haul, so aim to spread your cash out over the next 18 months. Because the economy is going to most likely be in a state of complete disarray over the next 18 months or so, freeze your expenses and find out if you can get any additional assistance through your bank or from the government.
Plan your next round of fundraising
Although it goes without saying that with the stock markets tanking and investors not being keen to put their hands in their pockets at this point in time, fundraising is obviously going to be significantly harder in the coming months. But despite this, if your business model does depend on fundraising then planning its next round is not nearly as absurd as you might think. Infact, it’d be illogical not to do so. The current climate means it’s crucial to start planning early, as you can be sure it’ll take considerably longer to close. That means now is the time to do some serious digital networking, identifying and building relationships with the right investors early. Rather than anticipating your funding 4-6 months ahead, plan it 6-8 months ahead of time instead.
Revamp your business model and marketing
There’s actually something we can take from Covid-19 and how we’re fighting it. For a virus that’s so complex, the most effective defense we have right now is a fairly simplistic solution – washing our hands. The key word here being SIMPLICITY. Let’s transfer that to the context of your business. How can you go back to basics, simplify your approach, and come up with a clear – cut strategy? More often than not, complex issues can be solved with the most simple solutions.
With that in mind, what’s the bread and butter of your business? Don’t panic and move into a whole new market altogether, like selling tissues and hand sanitizer (even if the impulse to do so is particularly strong right now). Think about how you can simply tweak your service and diversify your offering.
Go back to the drawing board and create effective solutions to adapt your model and how you connect with customers. Here are some ideas to get you jump started:
–Can you offer useful information that people could benefit from? If so, think about hosting some online courses and events – online learning is booming right now because of the lockdown and people having so much free time on their hands. Offering free courses in the short term can produce strong momentum for your business in the long term.
–Social media has never been so fundamental to social interaction as it is at this point in time, with research showing that people are now spending on average 20% more time on social platforms. It’s one of the few uplifting things consumers can turn to right now, meaning you have a brilliant way to reach more of them with your content, build your followers, clients and prospective customers.
–People are also turning to podcasts as a means of keeping busy, entertained and/or educated. So this channel is another great tool to connect with your desired client base and get your brand out. With all that extra time on your hands, commiting to recording just one podcast a day over the course of this predicted 90-day lockdown, means you’ll end up producing almost 2 years worth of content for a weekly podcast!
Last but not least: Use self-Isolation for self-improvement!
There’s literally no more excuses for procrastinating on the things you want to do for your own personal growth. Covid-19 has given each of us time to pause, reflect and recalibrate. That could mean finally being more conscious of your health and exercising more, or connecting with those good mates you haven’t spoken to for ages that always kept you grounded. Maybe even developing a new skill – after all, you yourself can make use of the online lessons I mentioned earlier, but as a learner.
Regardless of what recalibration looks like for you, you’ll need to get yourself in the right frame of mind to undertake this challenge, and remember some of the wisdom Andy Clayton imparted in his recent interview with me: Mitigate costs, change up your marketing, expand your product mix and be quick and creative in discovering new pockets of opportunity. The time to build a new strategy is now
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