The current climate is challenging for businesses in all industries, here are some top tips to sustain and grow your business through this uncertain period:
1. Be ready to continually adapt your strategy and services.
The demands and needs of clients continually change, it is important to continually review your business model and services you are offering. COVID-19 is an extreme example of a sharp transition in the services being demanded. Review what you are offering, what your clients are requesting and make a coherent plan to ensure you are fulfilling their needs. Remember to pivot quickly!
Switching to online services can be daunting, try to focus on your Unique Selling Point (USP) and how you can incorporate this into your online programme to ensure you are still offering your customers a unique experience. Take the time to create a comprehensive strategy plan for the initial transition as well as your exit plan to return to normal once COVID-19 is over!
2. Focus on your employees and team.
Employee satisfaction is critical at any time, but in a difficult period it is even more crucial to stay in touch with your team. As a business you can lose up to 35% of your operational efficiency if your staff aren’t happy and performing at optimum level. Unhappy staff will hinder positive client relations and business development. Take time to understand how your team are feeling and how you can accommodate their individual needs through this uncertain period.
Your team are often those liaising directly with your clients and working through operational issues stemming from COVID-19, involve them on strategy planning and ideas to adapt your business model, they will be able to offer fresh insight and new perspectives.
Communication with colleagues, clients and stakeholders is always essential to a successful business, this is now even more critical! Encourage more communication within your team and with your clients. Check in regularly with your clients, be receptive to feedback, and take the time to understand how their needs have changed and what you can do to ensure they are met. Through these uncertain times, customer care is critical in separating you from competition and ensuring your clients feel supported.
4. Look for external support.
During this crisis, there are multiple sources of external support for small businesses. A breakdown of Government support can be found here (these include grants, loans, the employee furlough scheme).
If you do not think you are eligible from the guidelines, it is worth applying to your local council anyway – they can offer an array of resources and you do not necessarily have to fit the standard guidelines.
If you have property overheads, renegotiate with your landlord/mortgage company. Explain your overriding focus on surviving the difficult period and ask for reductions/exemptions through the most difficult quarters. Explain the long-term benefits of the discounts and your determination to make it through the period with their assistance.
5. Look for new opportunities.
Amidst any crisis, there are always new opportunities in the market! Work out the benefits for your market. For example, virtual platforms mean you are no longer bound by an audience based on location. The impact of national school closures, will mean a greater demand for students to receive high quality education at home or in catch up sessions. If you are in the position to open new sites, now is a great time to negotiate commercial property deals. Be resourceful and consider how your current skills, services and workforce can be utilised in new ways.
6. Finally keep the faith!
Morale can have a huge impact on you and your business. Accept that it is normal to feel negative emotions through this period but try to remain motivated and focussed. Have confidence in the skills and talents that have bought you this far. Tackle problems one step at a time and do not let smaller inconveniences fog the bigger vision. Visualise the future, and how you survived the Coronavirus Crisis, keep a clear focus in mind and you will get there!
Elizabeth Mills is the Managing Director of Bright Young Things a London based tuition center.
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