Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."John Lennon
Business is tough at the moment. Governments have imposed restrictions, shut down establishments and limited the opportunities for many businesses to interact with customers in-person. The flow-on impacts have been and will be exponential. The worst might be yet to come.
I share the personal and business stress you might be under and as the days go on we continue to brace ourselves for even more turbulence. I have accepted that I will not be able to speak on a stage in front of people, present a live workshop, or facilitate a face-to-face meeting for months. The Beyond Business Groups model, one that prides itself on connecting business people in a face-to-face environment has had to be changed to virtual meetings.
I love belly-to-belly communication, but I have been adapting and changing, rethinking (and yet still magically procrastinating around the writing my book!). I have been watching every webinar, reading every article and tuning in to every podcast to give me ideas and keep me inspired and to be able to share what I find with you.
My goal is to not get stuck but to get through. Review my focus, reset my goals, renew the spirit of those business owners who are feeling lost and alone.
As hard as it is, in these uncertain times we need to try and be agile, not fragile. We need to think about and do things that may have seemed unimaginable just days ago.
There are three ways we can or have to act in our business at the moment – hibernate, innovate or pivot.
If your business is being shut down you will be hibernating. There are a few ways you can try and survive. Start by tapping into all of the help you are entitled to – your accountant should be able to help you with that. Or stay in touch through smart company who have a dedicated portal.
Then get the red pen out on your P/L and remove all of your unnecessary expenses. What can be held over, delayed, put on hold?
While you are hibernating you can use this time to invigorate your business, review your brand, your marketing collateral, renovate your online and / or offline premises. Look at your existing communication channels – what needs to change or be updated?
Pull out your business plan and tackle those projects you have had on your to-do list for a long time without having the time. Do some market research – on your own business or investigate new tools and or research/bone up on ideas that could improve your business systems and processes. Use the time to learn.
What do your stakeholders, especially what your customers need or want from you at this time? How can you continue to provide some form or service to them?
Here are some examples I have seen that I just love. By putting their clients first and looking for ways to give their loyal customers the same love in a different way.
- Schools – talk about changing the way that they work – almost overnight! Lessons via videoconferencing, google docs with lesson plans, on-line roll call, on-line exams. Sharing photos and ideas for learning.
- Hairdressers – there's a reason they keep your colour on file - send them a current photo of your regrowth and they will mix up your colour fresh and deliver it. And then even provide a videoconference helping you to apply.
- Local book shops are taking phone orders and delivering bundles of books to avid readers. If you like this author you should like this one too.
- Vets - getting clients to show the problem via live stream, provide a prognosis or make arrangements for the animal to be seen for further consultation. Venue tba.
- Libraries – providing regular storytime online for kids.
- A personal organising business creating a virtual version especially for people who are now working from home.
- PT’s / Yoga studios, / ballet teachers / music teachers – video streamed classes.
- Brewers – offering on-line sales, phone sales and deliveries.
- Cafes – adapting to provide takeaway menus, offering food deliveries, family meals.
- Bakers - providing baking kits and video instructions.
- Artists – showing their work in progress, providing live stream art classes. Selling kits of art products for at-home art creation.
- Galleries and museums – creating virtual tours, podcasts, photo journeys.
Pivoting means to use your expertise/equipment / infrastructure to move into a different industry/service/product segment. It's about repurposing everything from your database to your IP.
Some examples of pivoting:
- Distilleries / cosmetics manufacturers making hand sanitiser.
- Dyson – moving from vacuum cleaners to creating portable ventilators for hospitals.
- Qantas call centres used by Centrelink.
- Trucks used by production companies now used for food transport.
What to do now
Communicate openly with your customers about what you are doing – even if you are hibernating. Collaborate with other businesses, stakeholders. Prepare for multiple outcomes – we don’t know where this is going yet. Take care of yourself and others.
We will get through this if we support each other, share ideas and stay connected. If you need some help to navigate these challenging times, please get in touch.
"I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now,"Etienne de Grellet. (Quaker missionary)