The turbulent Coronavirus economy is in constant flux and forcing businesses to adjust quickly. As a small business owner, flexibility is crucial in these evolving events and now is the time to get creative and examine how your business can adapt. We have put together some ideas, questions to ask yourself, examples, and tools that might help with the process:
Can your business benefit by going online?
Taking your business online can mean different things for different professions. For some it entails setting up an eCommerce store, for others, offering online consultations, courses, exercise programs and more. Making an investment in your company’s infrastructure will not only help you be more relevant now, but also prove valuable when things begin to stabilize. Here are some tools to look at:
- Shopify is a popular e-commerce retail platform that helps you get up and running relatively quickly and is currently rolling out relevant product updates, & resources including online customer gift cards; local pickup/delivery options and extended 90-day free trial for all new sign-ups.
- Tools like Zoom, CiscoWebex, and GoToMeeting are opening up options for people to connect and work remotely. Each has been expanding capacity and offering special programs to support businesses during the situation.
- Professional service providers like freelancers, bookkeepers, consultants can use Melio for free to both process payments for their clients and request payment for their work.
Can your product or service change to suit the current situation?
Some small businesses have found ways to branch out with the products and services they offer as isolation and social distancing continue. What immediate changes can you make to your business that will allow you to still serve customers? Here are some ideas that you can implement quickly:
- Start offering curbside pick up or delivery. You might think that delivery/pick up only pertains to food and beverages, but not so, parents looking to entertain kids could be a market for arts and crafts stores, comic book stores, games &, toys, gardening stores, fabric shops, sewing, knitting, and needlepoint suppliers and more. DIY and hardware stores can offer easy home improvement ideas. Sporting goods stores can provide at-home workout gear and more. Bringg has released a free out-of-the-box solution to help small businesses launch or scale delivery operations.
- Get creative with social media. Clothing, shoe and beauty supply stores are uploading pictures of their inventory to Instagram and allowing customers to purchase either via phone or online.
- Adjust your hours of operation. In some areas, hours of operation have changed or expanded to accommodate the unique needs of the situation. Is your business in a position to do that?
- Shift your manufacturing, or re frame your product/service to diversify your customer base. Distilleries have started producing hand sanitizer, caterers are selling home-cooked packaged meals, stores are expanding their delivery radius, studios are conducting online classes (art, music, exercise, yoga), professional services providers are offering online consultancy, home organizers are providing virtual services. What adjustment can you make to give your business an advantage during this time?
How creative can you get with your marketing without overspending?
For many small businesses, it might seem counter-intuitive to think about marketing when everyone else is cutting back, but re framing how you spend your money on marketing can put you in a better position in the long run. For instance, creating valuable content like helpful videos or tips that are relevant to your customers or industry, can raise your profile, help improve your SEO ranking and potentially attract new customers.
Rethinking your employee’s roles
One of the biggest concerns for small businesses is keeping their workers employed. Your employees are one of your most valuable resources, and now is the time to assess them from a new perspective. What are their talents or hobbies? Can you re-allocate them to new areas of work? What feedback are they hearing from your customers? Do they have ideas that can help your business? On a similar note, is your staff cross-trained to take over for their colleagues in case of extended absences?
Banding together with other businesses and your community
Working together with other businesses, government agencies, and small business associations can help you pool resources and facilitate an exchange of creative initiatives. Many communities want to support their local businesses and by banding together you are sending a message that everyone is working hard to continue to provide service.
Tap into creative resources
Who among your family/friends is always coming up with great ideas? Can they be a good source of innovative suggestions for your business and help implement them? Is someone in your family social media savvy and can increase your exposure, can they build or update a website? Who can you recruit that you may not have considered before?
During this time of uncertainty, you might have to find new ways to operate your business, Resourcefulness and thinking outside-the-box may help you weather the situation and even give you the space to plan for the future.
Melio’s mission is to “keep small businesses in business” through smarter payments that improve cash flow and save valuable time - and we hope you find this resource and our services helpful at this time.