March 26, 2020
All of us are experiencing dramatic changes in our daily routines and the news can be paralyzing, but only if we let it. Now is the time not to freeze in place, but to make the most of every opportunity we have to prepare for the coming months and minimize the impact of this crisis on our lives and businesses. Here are five things every business owner or manager might do to keep their businesses moving forward successfully during the present challenge.
Make Sure Your Customers Know You Are Operating and How You Might be Able to Help
Continue to nurture the relationships you have in place, whether they’re with clients or customers. Find out what their situation is and let them know yours. Talk realistically about what can continue to move forward and what may need to move forward at a future date. This is the time to make clients feel reassured and that they are well attended. Let them know that we are all working through this together.
Be sure to do a pulse check to not come off too callous or mercenary – you know your clients best, so trust the relationship you have in place to help guide you.
If your business lends itself to online communications, consider the following, which can be accomplished virtually:
Blog updates: If you have a website with a blog, you can let customers know that regular updates will be posted as you have salient information.
Social Media: Continue social media efforts across all platforms or initiate them, if you don’t have them in place. People are now more virtual and are probably more motivated than ever to follow and stay connected.
eBlasts/eNewsletters: These can go out as frequently as you feel needed – daily, weekly, monthly. Tools like ConstantContact or MailChimp are easy to learn/use, if you don’t have them set up already.
Getting the word out about what’s new, unique, or different in your business is especially important in times of change. Your consumers need to know that you are still viable and why they should be paying attention to, using, or buying what you offer.
Address Things That Never Make It to the Top of Your To-Do List
Now might be the right time to take care of things that always seem to get pushed down on your To-Do List. These can range from 30,000-foot level strategic planning to administrative/organizational tasks. Below is a list of thought-starters – you can decide which will be most productive for you and what will help you feel better in control in these rocky times.
- Strategic Planning for the Future
- Developing New Ways of Packaging Existing Products and Services to Address Changing Client/Customer Needs
- Developing Business Marketing Strategy
- Exploring New Target Markets
- Evolving/Adapting Product Services and/or Developing New Products/Services
- Finding and Researching Potential Suppliers/Prospects/Employees
- Exploring and Implementing New Business Technologies: e.g., CRM software
- Catching Up on Administrative Tasks
- Analysis of Possible Organizational Changes for Improved Performance
Stay in Touch with Your Peers
Talk to your business peers about measures and initiatives individual businesses are taking to deal with shocks to their business. Business owners are connecting via conferencing services like Zoom or good old conference calls to talk candidly about issues they’re facing. While specific solutions discussed may not apply directly to your business, general principles or approaches may apply and you might adapt them to your situation. Plus, it may help you feel like you’re not weathering the storm alone.
You may find you’re able to speak to your business peers differently than you would with your employees, friends, or family.
Speak with Your Employees
Check in with your employees to see how they are doing – both personally and in the context of your business. They will appreciate that someone is interested in their wellbeing and paying attention to them. If they raise challenges or issues they are currently facing, you don’t have to offer immediate solutions. Listening and being heard can be the beginning of a solution. As you check in with employees, you may hear recurring themes, which could help you know where to focus (and may be something to discuss with your business peers). You can also set realistic expectations for future goals.
Regardless of the industry we are in, we are all in the relationship business. Networking will continue to be part of the lifeblood of business. If your primary form of networking has been in-person meetings – coffees, lunches, cocktails, dinners or sales calls and trade shows – find ways to continue these types of networking.
- Schedule a Facetime coffee
- Host a virtual lunch-and-learn via Zoom – either everyone provides their own lunch or have food delivered, if delivery is available in your neighborhood
- Take someone to a virtual event (like The Jazz Gallery’s Happy Hour Zoom sessions with jazz musicians on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays)
- Meet for cocktails online
Last, but not least, take care of yourself physically and mentally. Don’t binge on coronavirus coverage. Reach out to friends if you are feeling alone, find a quiet space if you need personal time, and develop alternate exercise programs.
You are at the heart of your business and the engine that helps to keep it running, you need make sure the engine is well taken care of.