If you’re a small business owner, you’ll know all about coping with a crisis. But nothing could prepare your SME for the unprecedented situation that the Covid-19 pandemic has created. However, your skill and resilience in coping with previous pivots, and how you choose to handle the change in communication in your business, should stand you in good stead when it comes to managing your business through the coronavirus crisis.
No one pretends that pivoting a business in any circumstances isn’t stressful, but handle it right and you can build growth and innovation into change management while you’re adapting your business strategy. Creating a simple Covid-19 response plan can help you to navigate the current situation and emerge in the best shape possible.
Empower your employees
Whether your team is furloughed or working remotely, now’s the time to start making decisions about the future. A daily Zoom or Hangouts coffee break or meet up can be vital to your team’s wellbeing, and a key opportunity to discuss the way forward which may include:
– Flexible working hours and holiday policies for employees with school-age children
– Reactivating projects that have been put on the back burner
– Offering online training opportunities for certification and skills
– Creating new customer responsiveness strategies across your business
Communicating honestly with your customers now can lead to creativity and innovation in the months ahead.
Focus on messaging
One thing we’re all noticing during the crisis is the sheer noise level created by the messages with which we’re being bombarded. By now you’ll be aware of what every company you’ve ever bought a product from or followed on social media is doing in response to Covid-19.
At a time when your customers are looking for clarity and assurance, pivot your marketing strategy towards communications that provide relevant and meaningful information. Add value for your customers in a way that helps them navigate the noise with succinct and essential communications.
Community over business
It’s time to step back and think about ways in which your business can give back to the community. Restaurants forced to close their doors have reopened as takeaway businesses or are providing low-cost meals for the vulnerable and key workers on the frontline. This, in turn, promotes a chain of giving, with people buying meals for those in need.
How can your business adapt its model to better serve your community and your customers? Can you keep the lights on by shifting to meet a new demand and make a social impact while you do so? Pivoting to service the new Covid economy could provide a way forward for your business.
Nurture your customers online
What can you share with your customers to keep them engaged online? Can your SME offer dance parties or masterclasses in baking skills? Your online content doesn’t have to be related to your core business, but can serve as a way to engage and uplift your customers in difficult times.
Utilise social media to keep in regular contact and post updates on the availability of your products and any service updates. There are so many really great online tools for you to level up your social media game, so if you’ve been putting off digital transformation for your business then now could be the time to focus on creating relatable content and shifting more of your business towards your online platforms.
Commit to using your lockdown time to update your website, build social networks and work on your blog. Let your customers know just how you’re adapting your business to the challenges and don’t be afraid to be authentic and honest. Customers prize transparency at a time like this.
Audit and automate
If your business doesn’t have the opportunity to pivot towards a new business opportunity, pivot instead towards preparedness. Take the time to conduct a full financial audit and find ways to reduce your outgoings and automate the way you do everything from sending overdue invoice notices to planning the implementation of project management software.
You have a critical opportunity to get your decision making right so do your research and shop around for the products and software that will help to transform your business in the future.
Plan for every contingency
The Covid-19 crisis may be an unprecedented event but do you have a contingency plan in place for more everyday emergencies? If your business couldn’t survive if you were to become sick, you’ll never have a better time to develop a robust contingency plan.
Look to future growth
Whatever the nature of your business, it’s doubtful that what worked before the coronavirus will continue to bring marketing traffic your way. However, it’s worth investigating channels that may otherwise have been outside your budget. The likelihood is that paid advertising will offer more reach and return on investment during an economic downturn.
If you take the opportunity now to look towards future growth, the chances are that you’ll find yourself in a much stronger position to start remarketing to your customers at a later time.
If your SMEs can maintain open and honest dialogues with your teams and customers while adapting your business strategy to the opportunities and innovations of the current situation, you will get your business on the most solid footing possible for the post-pandemic world.