The Coronavirus outbreak is changing the world as we know it. We’re all living through anxious and uncertain times, and I recognize and share the stress and worry you’re experiencing.
As vcita’s founder and CEO, there’s one question that I get asked more than any other these days:
“How can my small business survive the outbreak?”
I’m a bottom line sort of guy so I’ll keep the answer short: The best way to keep your company going is to do everything you can to stay operational, even at a reduced capacity.
Yes, you may have to temporarily discontinue some or even all of the services you’re offering. But to safeguard your business it’s important that you “keep the lights on”, and show your customers you’re not going anywhere.
The message you should be sending out to your customers is that your business is every bit as relevant today as it was two months ago. Here are four strategies you can start implementing today to make sure this message is heard loud and clear.
1. Move Your Services Online
For some businesses, moving online is a great strategy regardless of the Coronavirus outbreak.
In addition to social distancing, working remotely cuts down on your commute, reduces your carbon footprint, and keeps office costs low.
True – change is difficult – especially for small businesses. But moving your services online can also be a great opportunity to expand your business, sign up new customers, and adapt your workflows to consumers’ changing needs.
Luckily, making the transition to remote work has never been easier. Products like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and vcita can help you start sell, stream, and get paid for your online video services in less than 24 hours.
All three companies are currently offering freemiums or extended trial-periods to help small business owners make the transition at a very low cost.
Make good use of these offers: The world after the outbreak is likely to stay suspicious of unnecessary face-to-face interaction. Taking your business online isn’t a fad: It’s a long time investment that will pay off for years to come.
2. Think Like an Entrepreneur
Where some people see problems, others see opportunity. Even if you can’t offer your services online, there are probably some things you can do to stop your business from stagnating.
For example, I’m seeing lots of beauty professionals selling drive-thru hair color or nails kits, and caterers offering home-delivered meals or creative cook-at-home kits. This sort of quick, on your feet thinking is exactly what’s showing the way forward.
Think like an entrepreneur: In these crazy and confusing times, what are the services most likely to be most sought after?
Don’t be afraid to push past your comfort zone a little. Any service is relevant so long as it keeps your fridge full and brings value to the community around you.
Here are a few ideas you can consider:
- Food deliveries (including fresh produce, takeaways, baked goods)
- Toys, games, arts & crafts kits deliveries
- Home gardening kits deliveries
- Online tutoring for kids
- Paid membership online book club
- Online medical advice
- Remote IT support
- Videos that teach a fun or in-demand skill
3. Show Up for your Clients
Now, more than ever, your local community of customers is looking for business influencers to step up as leaders and inspire a positive change in the community. Don’t let them down.
Keep your social media and email marketing channels open and active, with updates about how you’re spending your days. Even a picture of a burnt omelette is likely to get a few laughs and give people an outlet to share their own stories.
Keep the business aspect of your work relevant and alive by sending clients educational freebies like tutorials, blog posts, and cheat sheets. Clients can never get enough of people who contribute to their personal growth.
Ideally, try to share information that is related to your business. If you’re a hairstylist, send advice about how clients can cut their own hair at home. Likewise, caterers can send ideas for healthy breakfasts when all the kids are home. If you don’t have relevant tips to share, you can still create lists that link to valuable information like available health resources, free online courses, or Netflix’ best pandemic movies & tv shows!
4. Invest in your Future While Offering your Best to Other Small Businesses
While the Coronavirus lockdown may feel like a forced vacation, it also brings a once in a lifetime opportunity to do some thinking. Now is the perfect time to refocus your attention on all the things that wouldn’t normally make it to your to-do list.
These can include developing ideas for new services, redoing your logo, updating your website, improving your work processess, and/or creating new marketing materials.
There are plenty of business and marketing professionals out there who are trying to make ends meet these days, just like you. Many of them are offering flexible compensation plans and reduced rates to small business owners. Use their expertise to grow your own business, while supporting other small businesses who now need you most.
If paying an outsource isn’t an option right now, consider bartering your knowledge, services or expertise in exchange for those of other professionals. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Meetup.com, or freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. You’re likely to meet some great people.
5. Don’t Cut Corners With Your Health
A healthy business begins with a healthy business owner. Don’t neglect self-care: keep yourself fit and physically healthy by using free online exercise classes to stay in shape and relieve stress.
On that note: It’s just as important to care for your mental and emotional health as for your physical health. Find someone to talk to about your anxiety regarding Coronavirus and your business – we’re all in this together and we can only make this together.
If you find it difficult to confide in people you know, you can consider using some of these apps to overcome stress and negative thoughts.
We’re in This Together
As part of our team’s effort to support small business owners, we’ve now put together a new resource hub together with MasterCard with tips and advice on managing your business through a crisis. You can also visit our Facebook group for regular updates on the features we’re developing to help you work and communicate with clients remotely.
My team and I are standing by for any questions or concerns you may have. We know it is a challenging time, but no issue is too big or small for us to work on. We can help on all the things we usually do as well as any ad-hoc, coronavirus-related issues. Please contact our team by clicking this link or contact me directly through my Linkedin account.
It takes one helluva bumpy road to bring out the best in us. Keep up the good fight. Good times will come again.