Are you wondering how to help your business survive the coronavirus outbreak? You aren’t alone. The measures put in place to manage the spread of the virus has caused an unprecedented crisis for business owners. For many, the future is uncertain. Unless you produce toilet rolls, face masks, or tinned sardines (the unsung success story of the corona crisis) your custom has probably plummeted. You may even have been forced to close temporarily. If you have mounting bills, staff to pay, and a home to maintain, thinking ahead may seem impossible. But you need to plan ahead. Times are tough now, and the economic aftermath of this crisis will be tougher still.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that you aren’t powerless. You can’t wave a magic wand to make this go away, but there are things you can do right now to help your business survive and leave it well-positioned for the future. Here are just some of them.
Check what financial support is available to you.
The UK government have set up various grants and schemes that could help your business. Check the gov.uk website to find out whether you are eligible for financial support.
This isn’t a dance move. Pivoting means adapting your knowledge, skills and equipment to fit a new purpose or market. For example, craft beer company Brewdog are switching to producing hand sanitiser. It’s not easy to move into a new sector, but think outside the box. List your skills, experience and equipment/product, then think of all the people you could help, both now and in the future. Direct your business towards those people. To pivot successfully, you may need to consider further training, so read on.
Train, upskill, learn.
It might seem counterintuitive to think about spending, but extra training is an expense worth considering. If you can upskill and expand your knowledge base, you’ll be able to offer more services and expand into new markets. You could also offer a more comprehensive service to your existing customers, making them more likely to stay onboard. And remember, training doesn’t just enhance your products and services: with the right skill set, you could help your business by promoting and running it more effectively, and even save yourself some cash. For example, you could learn to build and maintain your own website.
Brick and mortar training centres may be closed, there are plenty of excellent courses and programmes online. Check them out before you buy, as their quality and relevance are variable. Basically, don’t buy snake oil. Also, look out for free learning resources, and don’t be afraid to ask your peers to recommend courses that they’ve done.
There may be ways you could deliver your products and services electronically. This won’t work for everyone, but think creatively about how technology could help your business. Video conferencing and conference calls can replace face-to-face meetings. They can also be used to deliver tutorials, assessments, exercise classes, talking therapies, and even lead prayer or worship sessions. Equally, you could produce an eBook or online learning package that customers can purchase and use while they’re socially isolating. In these strange times, technology could provide the lifeline that your business needs. So don’t fear it, focus on how it can help you.
Overhaul your website and social channels.
You’re going to have more spare time, so look at your business website. Check your social channels too. Are they cluttered, and full of typos and tired old service descriptions? Do they contain inaccurate prices, outdated information, and old pictures? If the answer is yes, overhaul them, especially your website – it’s your shop window. To help your business, your website should reflect who you are and what you offer. It should appeal to the kind of customers that you want to attract in the future, so have them in mind when you’re planning and writing your content.
Start a business blog (or update your old one).
Contrary to rumours, blogging isn’t dead. Creating original content for your business blog is still a fantastic way to engage customers, build your brand and help your business grow. It’s also a great way to improve your SEO and satisfy Google’s pesky algorithms. If you see business blogging as a chore, try to look at it positively. Think of your blog as a place to show off your expertise, demonstrate your passion, and showcase your products and services. You don’t even need to think of clever topics, it’s more important that your customers learn about what you offer, who you help, and how your product or service can benefit them. You could even throw in some case studies of clients that you’ve helped in the past.
Remember, if your customers can get to know you now, they’ll be more likely to approach you later. Everyone, including your target audience, will be spending a LOT more time online, so keep yourself uppermost in their minds. Which brings us to our next point…
Get active on social media.
Out of sight doesn’t have to mean out of mind. Even you’ve closed down for the time being, stay active on your social media channels. Places such as Facebook groups, Instagram and LinkedIn are a great way to remain engaged with your customers. Post regular content to keep the algorithms happy, but do it with engagement and shareability in mind. It doesn’t all have to be business-related. Post a good mix of content, including informative, inspiring, and funny material. People need uplifting content at the moment. You could also comment on and share posts from other local businesses and charities. Which leads us neatly to…
Network with other businesses in your community.
This could be businesses who are local to you, or businesses in your sector. For example, if you’re a personal trainer, you could network with a nutritionist. After all, your services and online content are likely to have similar target audiences. You could share each other’s content, or even produce guest articles and video training sessions for the other’s social channels.
Equally, supporting your local community puts you in a favourable light, and most importantly, could help those in real need. For example, if you usually deliver food and drink to restaurants, could you help out a local shop or takeaway with food deliveries? That way you’d be supporting a local business and getting supplies to those who cannot leave the house. The people you help today may not be your future customers, but they will be forever grateful, and if their gratitude leads to a word-of-mouth recommendation, even better.
Work on that CV
Inevitably, this crisis will lead to job losses. Our heart goes out to all those who are looking for work in this tough climate. It’s vital that you update your CV, to maximise its appeal to prospective employers. Your CV should be unique, snappy and really showcase your skills, knowledge and experience. It might also help to build a portfolio of your work and get some up to date references, so you have them to hand.
Plan Bs and bucket lists
Sometimes, you need a plan B. It may be that you decide to take time out of the job market and return to full-time study. Now is a great time to start looking at university and college courses. You can do most of your applications online. To increase your chance of success, check out our tips for writing personal statements and completing Master’s degree applications. Many courses offer the option to study online from your home, so look at what’s on offer, and pick up our comprehensive guide to studying successful. Or, if writing a book has always been on your bucket list, now’s your chance. Read our earlier posts for some useful advice on beating writer’s block and improving your writing skills.
Try and stay positive. We know things look bleak now, but these tough times won’t last forever. Hopefully this post has given you some ideas about how to help your business. Remember, Wordsmiths offers proofreading, editing, digital copywriting, and translating services. We work with academic papers, CVs, manuscripts, social content and digital content. If we can help you at all, with the tasks above or anything else, please get in touch. You can find us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and we are also contactable via email. Our very best wishes to you all.