How to Use the Great Pause for Reflection & Business Survival
The COVID-19 Outbreak is a Game Changer
It’s safe to say that COVID-19 has been a game changer for entrepreneurs and small business owners, but I refuse to only see the negative in this situation – it is more than just a fight for small business survival. Since we’ve already touched on cut and dry opportunities to conserve cash, today we’re addressing soft skills for strengthening your business, like the opportunity for major inward reflection that the Great Pause has allowed us (#serenitynow).
The following are strategies for small business survival to build soft skills you can dig into as a leader and take your business survival plan to the next level even after the crisis is over. If we business owners can survive this challenge, what can’t we survive? Keep reading to dig in.
Company Culture: It’s Time to Thrive (to Stay Alive)
With the level of uncertainty in the air, it is time to double down on your company culture. Your employees may be working remotely for the unforeseeable future, so some changes should be in store to keep morale (and commitment to service) up! We’re talking about encouraging employee loyalty here.
Help your team members see your commitment to business survival and the sustainability of their roles through increased communication efforts. If you don’t yet operate with open book management it’s a great way to provide transparency and boost communication. If you Google open book management you’ll get the idea very quickly, but essentially it involves distributing company financials to your team and keeping them involved in KPI and financial reporting on a regular basis. The goal of which is to grab their interest and build their buy-in of the company. For some companies this can be a little more casual, but at Simple Startup we have recurring morning campfires, weekly KPI huddles, and monthly strategy planning on the financials.
If your company is more of the essential business model or even a food retail operation, creating a culture of safety and clearly communicating that to your employees will be key to your business survival. Document the steps you’ve taken to protect your team and shout it from the rooftops! These steps may include testing team members or putting temperature check protocols in place and organizing future office use to maintain 6 feet of social distance.
It’s a scary place to be, being the leader of any company right now. Challenging decisions have to be made to cultivate a balance between tactics for short term survival and strategies for long term success. BUT instead of hiding under the covers, be super transparent with your employees. A culture built on transparency might even surprise you with the improvements that emerge. Since your employees are the ultimate experts in your business, they just might have some cool ideas on how to pivot operations to encourage profit and innovative operations.
Use the Great Pause for Some Big Plans
Remember those nonstop networking events you attended last year? Those connections are all waiting for reconnection on LinkedIn. Consider reaching out to these past connections for potential collaborations and referrals. A fabulous new customer could be waiting in the wings! But keep in mind quality over quantity – don’t be THAT guy that (you know what I mean).
COVID-19 has presented an interesting opportunity for checking in on people and creating sincere connections. Identify the unique outreach opportunities for your industry and be prepared to give first. An example that comes to mind, is the instance of a sales development firm connecting with an accounting firm and trading services dollar for dollar, instead of cash for a month. Or reaching out to past clients and seeing if they’re interested in sharing a Google review. Coming out of this crisis with a few new testimonials would be great for business in the long term.
There are so many big planning opportunities to build into your business for financial stability – if you use this time to think. Here are just a few more that come to mind:
- Review your brand and develop a cohesive front across company platforms
- Assess your email automation strategy and make your outreach count
- Use this time to build your employees, and your own, skill set through online courses, business podcasts, and webinars.
- Mine your data to understand your customers better
- Add a new service or product to your business’s offerings
- Start a referral program
- Organize your business cards (hah, whatever floats your boat!)
Change Is Good, Embrace It
This is my favorite secret. Cultivate your most open mind and see what happens. What changes can you make in your business that will help it tackle this crisis situation?
- Can you change your pricing structure and make a move to a subscription model?
- Are your employees loving working remotely? Maybe now is the time to deep 6 your office and double down on this remote scenario.
- Is your business model stuck in the past? Can any part of it be automated? Outsourced?
- Can you add a new service to become a one-stop shop for your customers?
- Can you expand to focus on new states or even new countries.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. Your company’s best chance at survival may come with an entirely different business model or a new customer focus you hadn’t previously considered. I bet you’ve already seen this in real time too. Think doctor’s office going full on tele-medicine, distilleries producing hand sanitizer, and Ford producing newly designed respirators. Change is ultimately innovation and innovation ensures we thrive.
Looking to a Crisis Free Future (It’s Coming, I Promise)
A crisis puts everything including your business into perspective and adapting to the new normal is more important now than ever. The Great Pause has given us a gift, an opportunity for reflection, time to think about intentional, forward thinking strategies. What lessons can us business owners take from this current crisis and keep for the future success of our business. Think about all of the expenses you’ve been slashing that you truly did not need, maybe this mindset can inspire some permanent changes on how to run your business. I mean is there really a coming back from curbside pickup? I don’t want to, do you?
If you’re still struggling to know where to begin during the Great Pause, might I suggest establishing your status quo as well as knowing what’s round the corner by attending our online course on efficient cash management for both you AND your team. Let your journey towards open book management begin!