Whether it be my kids’ soccer games or my business networking meetings, it seems that every time I have checked my emails or social media over the last couple of days, I have been met with more notices about our common activities being suspended. Add to this the seemingly inevitable school closures and it is little wonder that my small business owner friends are reaching panic stations. Unlike the conglomerates like Woolworths or Coles who are, to a degree, benefiting from the panic buying, the nasty reality is that many people will be forced to close up their stores or work from home to ride out the Coronavirus.
I am in a very fortunate position of having an online job which I can do from home if I am forced into self-quarantine. But many businesses rely on human interaction or sales turnover to stay afloat. If you want to help those businesses, CNN Business offers some useful tips. For those of you who are business owners, I have put together this list of tips which may help your business come out of quarantine with minimal damage.
Put in place a ‘work-from-home strategy’. With the disruption that the Coronavirus is already causing it is wise to implement an online strategy for your staff meetings or for those staff who are unwell and better off at home. Meetings can be conducted via platforms like Zoom or Skype. And, so that your workflow isn’t interrupted, I recommend contacting your preferred IT Specialist who can set you up with the necessary platforms for your team to operate remotely. Getting these tools in place now will maximise efficiency while minimising interruption if your team is locked down.
If you are quarantined, use this is as an opportunity to finally review your website content to ensure that it is up to date. Many businesses overlook the effectiveness of their website. They think that once it is online it will continue to generate business for them. However, this isn’t the case. Websites need constant tending for them to continue to rank in search engines. So, updating your content with new staff bios, fresh service descriptions or even different pictures will help you rank higher. You may also consider adding a blog to your website to give people better a better insight into your products and services. Blogs are also an easy way to keep your website active.
Stay in contact with your customers via email or social media. Many of your customers will be going through the same emotions as you while they are quarantined. So why not use this as an opportunity to form stronger connections with them? Do a daily Live to show your customers what you are up to, share with them your strategies for keeping the kids entertained or simply ask their advice if you are in a pickle. Another good strategy is to let one of your staff do a ‘take over’ to share an alternate perspective or connect with a different demographic. All of this will help humanise your business while strengthening your brand. But above all, it will help your boredom and can be therapeutic for both you and your customers.
If you are in a product-based type of business, consider implementing a goods or subscription-based delivery service. This will allow you to continue to trade and stay connected with those customers who are homebound. You will find that as more and more people choose self-isolation, they will be inclined to trade with those businesses who offer them a convenient service.
Have you ever thought about collaboration? I realise this whole post is about isolation but bear with me. We’ve all heard great musical collaborations, hell Ed Sheeran recently released an entire album of collabs. But it isn’t just for the arts. When small businesses band together, they can create some fantastic buzz for each other. So, think about what your business can offer and see if you can boost this by running a competition with another business, or band together to offer a ‘post-quarantine package’. You can use your isolation, and all the tips I’ve mentioned above including Zoom, to nut out the idea and then promote the sale, competition or package. By the time you are ready to get back to work, you would have whipped your customers into such a frenzy that they will be teaming through your doors. If you need more convincing that collaborations can work, check out this post from Shopify.
If you need more tips on how to spread the word about your business during your downtime, please reach out. And remember to keep in touch with your fellow business owners during this time. They will be doing in hard as well.