There is no doubt that small business owners have been among the worst hit by the effect of Covid-19, but it does not mean there are not opportunities to adopt. I joined Anna Whitehouse for one of LinkedIn’s Live Employment Clinics a week to discuss some practical advice for how to proceed in these times of doubt. Now’s the best time to take a step back, create a plan, build a support network around you, and proceed with purpose and clarity.
For people who were not able to attend the live session, here are some of my top tips:
Communicate with customers and clients: Whatever industry you are in, now’s a vital time to reach out to clients and customers. This is very important to your present clients, but especially for new clients too. This doesn’t have to be a sales pitch – just checking in to see how they’re doing and what they want right now is actually valuable. Even if you don’t have the answers at this time, you may have somebody else in your community who can help that will strengthen your connection with them later on. It is about listening and offering real value and experience at the moment.
Locate your pivot point: There are a whole lot of great examples of businesses embracing the present situation and successfully pivoting into entirely new areas. However, you will need to be careful about how you do that and keep true to what your business stands for. Know your market, look at what your customers really need, where you now sit and then determine where the logical pivot is. Customers wish to support small businesses at this time, so don’t be afraid to tell your story and remember why you started the business in the first place – what problem can you solve for your clients in this environment? Think of what you do well and multiply that.
Connect with your community: At a time such as this, an increasing number of entrepreneurs are seeing the value of connecting with other people in the same sector for support. Social media platforms like LinkedIn provide an excellent chance to connect with other people and begin developing a solid community of peers. Find people in a similar situation to you, do not be afraid to reach out, begin a beneficial thread or discussion, and invite others to join – you will be amazed by how fast you find your people.
Know what financial support you have access to: A lot of individuals is, understandably, worried about money right now. Gov.uk is a superb place to begin to read up on the latest tools which might be accessible to you. The two primary grant options to consider as a small business owner is your job retention and self-employment scheme. If you’re looking for financing, the new Business Bounceback Loan is an excellent alternative offering between $2,000 and $50,000 and up to 25% of your earnings. What is really great about this one is that its interest-free for the first 12 months, then afterward the rate of interest is 2.5% that’s truly low. This funding can be quite valuable to reinvigorate your business and keep it going now – whether that be an excess marketing push, or investment in new technology to take your services online. Unfortunately, there are still businesses falling through the cracks of current funding schemes, so it’s important to do your research and watch out for new initiatives or local council options relevant to you.
Focus on clients over competitors: A lot of people concentrate on their competition rather than how to add value to their customers. It’s customer service which differentiates the small business from a large business. We’ve got the ability to adapt quickly and change what we’re offering to meet the needs of clients more easily. Now’s the time to dig deeper into your business – look at what’s worked well for you in the past and what you could do more of to add value for clients. This might be via rewards programs, discounts, flexible future reservations, virtual sessions, or even beginning an e-newsletter. Think about what you could do today to retain your customers so that once things get moving again you’re the first they think of.