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We face a tough challenge in the fight against Covid-19. It is fighting with huge unknowns and limited medical treatments, impacting our personal lives and economy. Small business marketing strategists are facing an uncertain time to shape a business during Covid-19 outbreak. However, in this article, I want to show you how to rebuild your small business during Covid-19 and help you get your business back on track.
I want to share a bit of what I have experienced with my web design business and offer some guidance to other small businesses and to our clients that may be experiencing similar changes in their businesses from what I have learned.
The Importance Of Risk Management Plans And Business Impact Analysis
Should The Risk Management Plan We Developed For Our Business Be Effective Against Covid-19?
Bearing in mind that the global economy had endured pandemics before – like Spanish Flu (even if it was more than 100 years ago), Ebola and Zica – in theory, Covid-19 would be a known risk. But, I am sure you have never thought of something of the same magnitude, and therefore the risk was unknown to you. That seems to be the situation of most small and large businesses.
Although, just as a caution to ourselves, we cannot say that we have not had wise words before warning us of the danger.
Listen to the points Bill Gates told audience members in April 2018 at the New England Journal of Medicine’s Shattuck Lecture in Boston: “Given the continual emergence of new pathogens, the increasing risk of a bioterror attack, and how connected our world is through air travel, there is a significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes.”
It is a pity, Gates next affirmation has not come true, “As I said at the start, I’m fundamentally an optimist, and that gives me hope that we can get prepared for the next big pandemic”. Not yet. But we are learning fast!
The Impact Of Covid-19 On Risk Management
I do not think business owners could accurately assess the impact of Covid-19 – or not much of what is to come yet. But there are important warnings to learn.
WHAT LESSONS DO WE NEED TO KNOW IN A WORLD THAT CERTAINLY WILL FACE OTHER THREATS?
Now, the time for the preparation of risk management plans and business impact analysis for your business has passed. At this point, it’s time to think broadly, understand the scope of the risk for our business and develop an urgent plan for a realistic and cost-effective strategy to deal with the impacts.
Return on Equity (ROE) is a central measure of business performance. I suggest that many times pre-crisis ROE is a reliable predictor of business risk during the crisis. A solution for companies struggling to increase ROE during the Covid-19 turmoil would be to increase their return on equity.
Common ways used to increase ROE are:
- going public;
- increase the price of the products;
- reduce labour costs;
- negotiate with suppliers to reduce the cost of goods sold;
- increase prices;
- better utilising their assets.
All these methods are mainly useful to larger businesses considering the company management standards previous to the crisis. In small businesses, where the ability to raise money (liquidity position) is limited, and the demand for the product is down, you will need most to improve management and labour skills to expand your business to new target markets.
The liquidity position of a business is always essential, but when the company is facing the inability to cover all its financial obligations, it takes on even greater importance.
The importance of Risk Assessment
Let’s divide the risk assessment into two parts, external factors and internal factors.
Analyse the exposure of your country or community to the threat. How many people are infected in your area at the moment? What are the government restrictions imposed? What health impact risks your region is facing? How much do you depend on people working in person? Could they work remotely?
With these answers in mind, then analyse the following problems:
- The economy strength within your target customers;
- How dependant your target market is on business continuity in your region;
- How dependent they are from imports or exports;
- Your supply chain, local business and stakeholders impacts;
- If your current risk plans cover crises.
It is a fact that a robust monitoring system is necessary to keep our business going. We need to improve more robust methods to build resilience and mitigate disruptions. Above all, adopting a people-first mindset should be our goal, especially in times like we are living now, with increasing uncertainty and stress.
Positive, transparent and regular communication with your employees with accurate information will demonstrate leadership qualities and also develop a strategy to deal with the crisis.
Along with the accurate business communications and information you send to your clients and your employees, express empathy and compassion for the human side of the threat. Leadership and business strategies should share the same spirit during the crisis to help build more assertive communication between your business, your employees and your customers.
Is your business personnel confused and terrified with the crisis, or are they adapting to the problem and working diligently?
- Your business is located in high-risk areas;
- Your business depends on people working in person or face to face;
- Your staff would be profitable working remotely;
- The crisis favourably/unfavourably impacts your stakeholders and salespeople;
- You are not neglecting your positive, hands-on leadership during this crisis time.
Threats like Covid-19 need to be responded proactively. You need to immediately establish specific protocols that must be followed by your employees, identify alternative sources of supply, create a standby emergency budget and other precautions that will help your business survive.
Adapt Your Business To The Exigencies Of Covid-19
It is critical to set a pattern of transparent information flow from top to bottom and, please, do not penalise employees for taking health-related issues to management’s attention. Times are tough. But we still have options.
Small businesses need to learn to hold on. There are government aids and loans, and you can readjust business operations to reach your customers online. Many businesses are benefiting now offering deliveries and an increase in local clients who are buying local.
2020 is not a terrible time to be a business owner. It is an exciting time, full of incredible innovations and intriguing new possibilities to set our brands for success and build resilience across the organisation. It is time to build creativity, prepare ourselves and our business accordingly.
Steps To Take As An Individual
- Updated knowledge of what is happening in terms of government restrictions and medical research;
- Supplies that you will need shortly, their limitation and availability (soap, hand sanitizers, disposable gloves, masks, disinfectants, long-life foods) especially if run the risk of being isolated;
- Hygiene to avoid infection such as the good old washing of your hands, covering mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose and keeping social distancing;
And responsiveness, being ready to change old habits and do things differently; if you are in Queensland, there is useful guidance under the Australian and State Regulations and Covid-19 Plans.
- Be prepared for absenteeism;
- Maintain staff and customer welfare or plan to suspend their services;
- Be prepared for some financial stress and cancellations from customers;
- Plan for post-pandemic trauma and the possibility of a second or third wave of the virus.
Ensure that your business is working in synchronicity with our global society to respond to Covid-19. Never try to capitalise on the coronavirus global challenge. As an example, Facebook is blocking ads that try to exploit the situation as a step to respond to Covid-19. It is not okay to share information that puts people in danger or exploit the crisis situation.
Ways To Build Your Small Business During Covid-19 Outbreak
Another extremely recommended strategy to adapt your business accordingly would be to use the time to review your accounts. Optimizing liquidity will help you keep pace with the changing markets and trends that may affect your business.
Another item to add would be to improve clear, effective and efficient communication. Efficient and friendly communication will be the key to maintaining customer relationships. Build trust and confidence with your current and potential customers regarding changes you might have to do to your business and be a point of reference for those who experience stress and hardships. Empathy produces a sense of purpose in your communication with your employees and customers.
If your business is affected, communicate those changes to your employees, stakeholders and customers online and on your brick-and-mortar business premises. Not only let your customers know when they can stop by but also give information regarding additional precautions that you are taking and positive changes in the service you offer.
Build Customer Loyalty During Covid-19
Effective methods to create and improve customer service:
- Happy customers are your best growth opportunity – if your customers are unhappy, you may be in trouble. Delivering a remarkable customer experience will produce satisfied customers who will drive referrals and repeat sales;
- Reingeneer parts of your business that do not produce good reward – invest some efforts on costs that will provide more rewards;
- Investment in customer service is a long game – customising customer interactions and post-sale; gather feedback, identify holes in your customer service, quantify the value of your customer happiness;
- Outdo your competitors – if you fail to make your customer successful, you will fail too (excuse the jargon);
- Understand customer goals – people buy products to fix a problem. If you understand the most common problems your potential customers have, you will be able to predict their reactions and reach their problems more easily;
- Make it easy to purchase – just like in websites navigation, make the sales process to your products or services more comfortable for your customers. Empower your staff with people reaching skills. If necessary, disrupt industries that make the purchase process difficult; be an innovator.
Our culture is changing radically during this time, and some changes are here to stay. Some of them can be stressful, but we, small business owners, should use the opportunity to look forward to connecting with our customers with clear, concise and accurate communication. Ensure your customers they will receive the same quality service you always offered them plus some additional benefits that will outlast Covid-19. Your customers are your first priority.
Websites For Small Businesses
A good website can change how your brand connects with the target audience and your search for new markets. A professional website will help you develop a content strategy with beautiful visual to deliver a personalised and consistent experience for each visitor navigating through your business digital space.
Do you think that a small business like yours need a website at this time when you are suffering the impacts of Covid-19? What difference would a website give you and your business?
A professionally designed website would offer new opportunities for your online business and marketing activities. The challenges and opportunities you face require an acceleration in the adoption of digital solutions.
Your website is your focal point in the business market. It not only helps small businesses promote and sell their products and services more, but allows them to outshine their competition. Just consider how heavily our audience relies on the Internet to learn and look for their products or services before they reach the shops or services. A good professional website helps you better serve your customers and build customer loyalty during Covid-19 and after.
Spend Your Cash On Customer Experience
The objective of customer experience is to interact with your organisation and your customer throughout your business relationship. In other words, it is the impression your brand transmits to your customer. Positive customer experience is critical for your business to succeed. We all like a happy customer, don’t we? And happy customers are likely to become loyal customers who will help boost your business.
Think of the last time you had a good experience as a customer. Remember the ways that experience left you feeling. Happy, awesome! Making a business is making it customer-centre. Satisfied customers will promote your business and give your brand a high-rank – that is the irreplaceable word-of-mouth marketing that builds loyalty to your business and spreads your good services to their families and friends.
In contrast, think of the last time you had a poor experience as a customer. How did you feel? Did it impact on how you looked at that business as a whole? Didn’t it make you shake your head and wonder what that salesperson was thinking after all!
That is why customer experience is so important. Customers equate brands with experiences. It is the impression your customer gets from your business through all the aspects of the buying process. It results on how they view your brand, and it will be an essential factor concerning your success and your revenue.
Hubspot offers a great template to develop and analyse your Customer Experience Mapping in their blog “What is Customer Experience (And Why It Is So Important”. I suggest you should make a journey map and create buyer personas (or use some of your loyal clients as buyer personas) to obtain data and analyse ways to create positive connections with your customers.
Understand their goals, get feedback and use the data to build useful content that will help you better serve your customer needs.
New Opportunities That Came With Covid-19
Help others selflessly with your business services.
More people are staying indoors, and lots are going online much more than before. Consider what you can give away for free. If you work with education, for instance, you could give away an introductory course. Many of those who accept your free course and are interested in the subject could enrol in subsequent paid courses. Primarily, you will be helping people during this virus crisis and indirectly benefiting of helping people out.
Address customer’s experience during the time of Covid-19.
This will be a great tool to shape stronger connections in the future. The crisis has made us rethink the customer care we offer our clients. Now it is not just what customers want, but actually what they need. The interaction clients have at this time shape the trust and loyalty they develop towards your business. Are your clients feeling your concern, your care, your empathy towards their needs? The Covid-19 crisis allows you to meet your customers where they are now and build capabilities to focus and personalise your connections with them.
Bring your business to your client’s homes.
Some restaurants, food delivery companies, grocery shops, for instance, are doing just that. And they are succeeding. A touch-free delivery system can be organised to protect clients and employees that will result from a convenience to a necessity and will leave lasting memories in your client’s minds.
Some “digitally resistant” customers are getting used to digital functionalities.
Experiences in the crisis have helped their minds to broad to new possibilities. Free trials are a great possibility that could ensure the continuity of services after the situation is gone. You, as a business owner, should offer the opportunity, adapt to increase the adoption and guarantee to maintain the same level of customer relationships after the crisis. Many new digital users will switch permanently to the latest offers and accept them as the “new normal”. The problem will finish at some point.
Ensure your clients understand that the customer care you offer now will outlast Coronavirus.
Economic impacts, of course, take longer to recover and leave scars. Make your business a leading company that understand the customer experiences and deliver to their needs. If your business depends on a brick-and-mortar building, imagine innovative ways you will use to reopen and adapt the shops to the new needs. Re-examine how your local service places will fulfil the necessary options to serve your clients better.
A great call for you to adopt agile innovation.
The Covid-19 crisis is a call to serve new customer experiences to your clients rather than waiting for the perfect time in the future. Agility is crucial to building long-lasting customer experiences with long-lasting benefits.
A time to look at failure models adopted in the past.
Never miss the opportunity to be critical of your business model and your internal capabilities and use the data to support your employees (who will appreciate it) and feedback on customers’ insights to adapt to the new practice as a leader.
Prepare For Business Continuity – Resilience And Recovery
Resilience and recovery will be critical aspects of our response to the pandemic economy.
- Determine and scope your precise goals and objectives;
- Identify and prioritise revenue opportunities and new targeted strategies to win back loyal customers;
- Develop new customer experiences based on the trends you find in your industry;
- Adjust your products or services prices and offer new promotions based on new data;
- Digitize sales channels and support remote selling;
- Maintain that sense of possibility as a competitive advantage.
In summary, adjust to the new reality. Look forward to new possibilities. Take action. Develop new skills and enjoy the benefits that will come to your business.
After reconsidering your business strategy to restructure your operations, you will be far more equipped to defy the challenge and the opportunities of the new normal. Rigorously prioritise your new measures to impact on earnings and your business ability to work faster and better.
Maintain That Sense Of Possibility As A Competitive Advantage.
For one thing, making a turnaround demands innovation. It will require the creation of a unique business style that can perform as a cohesive team even when all known routines are gone. And always remember that your business will require leadership on the management and the working force. Skill yourself continuously to be better prepared to impact your business performance positively.
As we have seen, many businesses around the world believe they can come back and succeed after the ordeal caused by Covid-19. Most will. The winners will come back stronger; they will be driven by urgency, and they will embrace agile methods and more decision-making authority. More efficient leadership skills will emerge from the toughest experience and help their business grow and thrive now and after Covid-19.
Above, you learned how to rebuild your small business during Covid-19. We have talked about the difficulties the Covid-19 outbreak brought to the small business market and explained how small business markets strategies could uplift their business during Covid-19. In the time of the Coronavirus, we have to adapt our creative thinking and business experience to create new tools to address our customers needs, building a strong exit strategy for the post-Covid-19 era.
Hopefully, beginners will find this article on small business strategies during Covid-19 helpful. As you saw, the scheme might seem overwhelming; however, it will become part of your daily business routine. The benefits clearly compensate for the adapting process and will help you take your business to the next level.
What are your thoughts on small business strategies rebuilding? Any comments, tips or share are welcome. Please leave your comments in the section below.