When faced with the unknown, the natural reaction is to adopt a wait-and-see approach, but when it comes to your business, the smartest solution is to act swiftly and adapt your operations to suit your new reality. Initially, you’ll be putting out fires and focussing on ensuring your business survives; however, with a little planning and forethought, it has the potential to thrive, too.
Living through the Covid-19 pandemic is living on a learning curve and the future remains obscure – some businesses still don’t know when they’ll open again and whether, when they do open, they’ll still have the same customers. When faced with this uncertainty, it’s crucial to determine how you can stay relevant. The companies that ultimately succeed will be those that adapt.
The pandemic has propelled us all into a digitally dominant world, and even those who consider themselves tech-challenged have been compelled to work, learn, and shop online.
The e-commerce and delivery industries have boomed, and with no vaccine or treatment in sight, “remote living” is likely to become the new normal. If you don’t have a product-based business that’s digitally geared, you’ll have to think outside the box to succeed.
Upgrade your technology. As much as possible, transfer all your operations onto a virtual platform that allows staff to both work remotely and stay in touch. Communication and connection are key, so making use of business planning software or free services, such as Google Docs, where people can collaborate easily, is essential.
The digital demand has led to an increase in the need for safe, reliable video conferencing software, and this manner of communicating is here to stay for the long term. Everything from dance classes and therapy sessions, to wellness coaching and teaching is being done virtually, so it makes sense to get on board and go virtual.
Ensure all your products are available via a safe e-commerce site, are delivered according to stipulated protocols, and that your website is updated and user-friendly.
While it may be tempting to do a complete overhaul, it’s vital not to veer too far away from your central skill set. Consider what your core competencies are and try and build on those while diversifying your revenue stream. Assess what your clients need right now.
Maybe it’s a slightly different product or service from what you delivered before, or maybe the manner in which you deliver it needs to be changed. If your business is a restaurant, offer online cooking lessons; or if you’re a tradesperson, offer YouTube tutorials on a specific skill or job. Capitalise on your expertise.
Make sure that you’ve implemented all the necessary measures to ensure you’re in compliance with the standards set by government. Put practical measures in place, such as installing glass or plastic screens, providing hand sanitizers and masks, and restructuring your work space to ensure social distancing is possible.
Similarly, take a proactive approach when it comes to your employees’ mental wellbeing. Complete transparency will help to dispel any fears they might have concerning their job security.
Social media is an excellent, cost-effective way to stay in touch with your target audience. Try and get your posts onto as many platforms as possible in order to widen your reach. Offering your customers discounts, specials, or even freebies is a great way to build goodwill. Another option is to implement a subscription service at a discounted rate during the lockdown period.
Be cautious when it comes to taking out further loans and increasing overdrafts to stay afloat. If possible, downscale rather than taking on excessive debt, unless you’re certain you can recover it once the lockdown is lifted. Investigate the relief funding available from both private and government entities, make use of payment holidays from the banks, and apply for UIF for your employees.
This “pause” in the economy could be considered a unique opportunity to build a bigger, better, and more diverse network and to discover strengths and skills you may never have known you had. Disruption on this scale has the potential to overwhelm any business; however, having a clear plan, collaborating with your employees, and adapting the way your business operates can make all the difference.