How Can I Support My Business During An Economic Downturn?
2nd April 2020
Whilst most businesses in the UK have been forced or encouraged to close their doors for the next few weeks, at least, some are continuing to function – albeit from home or with the use of skeleton staff.
Luckily for us, remote working is nothing new so it’s pretty much business as usual. Our team are safe in their own homes and can continue to work from their kitchen tables as easily as they can from our studio (although we do miss being able to evaluate each other’s lunches).
That said, of course many of our strategies have had to adapt quickly to support the different challenges our clients are individually facing at this time. Some are businesses booming, some despite being busier than ever are finding themselves restricted by the loss of their supply chains and others have sadly lost their customers overnight due to the lockdown restrictions.
One thing that is unanimous across the board however is the determination, resilience and fight that local businesses, both owners and staff, have shown since this disruption began.
In times of downturn, seize the opportunity.
Closing your business, even if it is only for the short term, can be daunting, overwhelming and heartbreaking – and although it may take time to appear, in spite of the hardship, there will also come opportunity.
If you are feeling a little lost for direction right now, we have created a list of ideas, to inspire you to keep positive and stay focused in these uncertain times.
Whilst you can’t have control over how long this will last, or what it will cause to happen, you can control how you deal with it.
Take the time to pause and fine tune your processes.
Whether you are grateful for it or not, a forced closure brings with it time to slow down, a pleasure that most business owners are rarely granted.
Reassess and evaluate what was working well before this interruption…and what, honestly, was not. Make the most of your new found time by implement changes and completing those tasks that you have been putting off for far too long.
With the above in mind, take the time to review your finances, systems and processes at your own pace. Having a fully fledged business on pause, gives you a unique perspective that we have never had before. Dig in to your supply chains, your overheads and how your business was being run day to day. Make sure that everything is running like clockwork.
Remember, it’s ok to rest too!
When this time passes, it is vital that more than just your business is match fit. When work returns, and it will, it may mean putting in some long hours and hard graft, particularly if you are the business owner.
If you have been running or managing a successful business, it’s likely that you haven’t had too much time to just focus in yourself. While you have the time, it’s perfectly ok to allow yourself time to just sit, have a well earned cup of coffee and binge watch your favourite Netflix shows or practice some much needed meditation!
Still carrying out services from your workplace?
If you can work from home, do.
If however, you are considered an essential worker or service then it is likely you will still be working. If you are in a factory, warehouse or store made up of staff that work across several disciplines, split the team into core mini teams. Each team should include a member of staff that can cover each skillset that goes towards creating the final product or service.
That way if a member of a mini team falls ill, the impact on production will be limited, allowing the essential service to continue.
Adapt your online offering fast.
If you have shut up shop, but are able in some capacity to continue trading during this period, you may need to establish new ways of doing so. If you don’t currently trade online, consider upgrading to an e-commerce platform. Ensuring you can offer a contactless service will also help to future proof your business against this happening, on the same scale again. We tasked the team with creating a basic shop, to allow local companies to offer delivery or kerbside collection, and take payments online. If this is something that could benefit your business, we are offering them at a cost rate to try and help Norfolk businesses at this difficult time. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Offer your knowledge based services for free.
It may seem counterintuitive to offer up goods for nothing, when financial pressures are high, but now is the time to create some great content (ahem)!
Populate your blog (if you don’t have one on your website now is the time to adapt) and offer your website users an insight into your knowledge. Whether you are a financial advisor, baker or holiday company, people are always on the look out for interesting content to read and share. Remember if users like it, so will Google, so refreshing your content will potentially assist your rankings too.
Switch to video lessons and tutorials.
If you offer a service that would ordinarily be run from classes, such as personal training, yoga or cookery, it makes perfect sense to switch these group or one to ones sessions to a video platform. You can still charge your clients to join in a group video session, or offer content for free on your social media channels. There are loads of useful platforms available to host tutorials and lessons from Zoom to Vimeo, or the old favourite YouTube. Try to let go of your reservations of being on video, your clients attend your lessons because they love what you do. Your video doesn’t need to be live if you would prefer to pre-record a session or lesson, and it doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to be you.
Our top tips to creating video content are;
- Keep it consistent – try and keep your video sessions in line with your usual offering if you can, so that your viewers know what to expect.
- It is important to just make sure that you have a good connectivity if you are going to be live.
- Lighting is important, if you can’t get a good amount of light indoors consider taking your lesson outside.
- Make sure the sound quality is as good as it can be. If you are filming on your phone there are lots of good value bluetooth microphone packs available, and they will transform your video from Amateur to professional.
- Test your broadcast first with someone else in your household to make sure it runs smoothly.
- Keep it concise, it may take a little practice, but try your best not to waffle! Make notes and prop them up next to your camera if you have to.
- Remember to smile and enjoy it!
Make cuts to your business, but only in the right areas.
Often the first thing that is seen as an unnecessary overhead is marketing. We are not in the business of selling you anything you don’t need, and as a result our team have been working alongside those clients that need to reduce their overheads, to ensure they can do so, without negatively impacting their results too much in the long term.
Although it can seem like a quick win, to stop your SEO or digital marketing during a downturn or recession, actually there have been plenty of studies to say that the less you cut, the more you gain on the other side.
We, however, are not sure that this is always the case.
For example, if you are running a Google Ads paid advertising campaign, for a service you cannot offer right now, there is little point in continuing to do so or paying an agency to manage your ads. Pause your ads. If however you can adapt your offering to a service consumers are not only searching for but also offer conversions, those ads are better left on.
With SEO and digital marketing, it is a more complex challenge and how much you can afford to reduce your strategy is very dependant on your individual business, and your industry competition levels. As SEO is a longer term strategy, it can make sense to continue this during economic strife, providing it is being run ethically and with a long term strategy in mind. That way you will be in a stronger position when business begins to pick back up. Suddenly pausing all online activity can have a profound impact on search rankings which takes a long time to recover.
Consider a sideline.
Have you had a burning business idea for a while, but no time to execute it? Maybe now is the time. Why not draw up a new business plan and start some wheels in motion. Maybe you have spotted a business opportunity during these unprecedented times, or can recognise a way to support others to get through it? Some businesses are flourishing in the face of adversity. Could you be on the cusp of the next big thing?
Get your comeback plans in place.
The British don’t give up without a fight.
We don’t know when this will end, and following that how long it will take for the economy to recover, but that doesn’t need to stop you focussing on “freedom day” and making some plans to blow all others out of the water!
If you have had a development on your services in the back of your mind, or a new direction you would like to pursue, now could be the perfect time to mull it over, plan and move forward with it. If it keeps your mind busy and forward focused during this time, thats enough. If it’s something that sets you ahead of your competitors when the market refreshes, all the better.
Right here if you need us!
Our team are still here should you need any help or advice along the way, or just a friendly voice at the end of the phone. We will be back to also offer tea AND biscuits AND chats in person too, right as soon as we are able!
Stay safe guys.