There is a lot of doom and gloom at the moment, with many business owners wondering how they can carry on connecting with customers, establishing relationships and maintaining essential business functions. And for good reason.
The federal Paycheck Protection Program loans look as though they’ve been tapped out, with some major companies apparently taking advantage of the lax criteria, and furloughed staff worried about money and working.
Yet even in this crisis, there are major positives and substantial opportunities. Here’s how you can stay positive and optimistic regarding the future as an entrepreneur.
1. Keeping customers engaged
Part of business is to keep customers engaged with your brand. Whether you are a hairdresser, a hardware distributor, or a small restaurant chain, it’s worth engaging with your customers to ensure that you are ready to go when your area opens back up.
In fact, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. Therefore, focusing on the customer experience in general is what’s going to keep retention and also help drive sales once things begin to normalize.
If you have a lot of free time, you can help keep your target audiences entertained. Creating silly things and giving a snapshot into your life can promote you and your brand to your target audience. It doesn’t even have to be related to your business.
Showing off your little ones or showing what you do to keep yourself entertained can help boost morale and keep people interested. Being able to show personality behind your brand can help create meaningful connections with your target audience. More specifically, 86% of people say authenticity matters when deciding what brands they like and support.
3. Create content relevant to your business
Local gyms can establish workout routines to help people stay fit at home and broadcast them, while a daycare might create teaching materials for little ones. There are dozens of options, and with a little imagination, you can think of how you can angle your business interests into an appropriate YouTube or Facebook video.
Businesses that publish more than 16 blog posts a month enjoy nearly 4 times the traffic compared to businesses that don’t. Keeping your audience interested ensures you can plan towards reopening.
4. Enjoy a makeover
For some businesses, now is the time to consider a makeover. Revamp your website or your shop, and announce it when you’re ready. If you post it as exciting news, it’s sure to stand out among the increasingly fatalistic atmosphere.
You can also focus on areas within your business that haven’t performed well and pull back on those products/services so that you can focus on what’s really important and contributing to profitability.
5. Stay off local coronavirus groups
This is for everybody’s sanity. While many groups were set up with an intention to help the local community — a seriously laudable goal — most quickly devolved into convoluted arguments and became fertile “discussion” grounds.
If you do wish to promote your business or delivery service, use your Facebook settings to turn off notifications for a group if it becomes too negative. The best rule is to only engage if it suits your business or personal ethics, and even then, be mindful of perception.
6. Encourage learning
What does your business do? What do you need to get into your profession? Many businesses have a lot of knowledge, so it may be worth creating talks on what it takes to get into your business, what you have to do and how you do it.
Today’s interested click might be tomorrow’s next enthusiastic hire or customer. Even very basic things like a chef teaching how to sharpen knives or how chefs cut items quickly and accurately can create substantial interest. This keeps your business at the forefront of people’s minds.
Remember that one of the key metrics of blogging is time spent on page, so a video can seriously help.
7. Create events
Just because you might be in lockdown doesn’t mean you cannot sell. Facebook events, Insta events and other forms of getting your audience involved in your business can be highly effective. Know that you can still send products to people to bolster growth initiatives. It’s important to correctly target your product in line with the times — naturally, most people don’t have the same priorities as of six months ago.
8. Cover all your bases
Apply for whatever loan your state or the federal government is offering. These loans are designed to help you to continue your business. Even if federal loans run out, there may be state-level and city-level loans available. It’s worth looking at state, city and federal websites to see what’s happening in your area. It may also be worth investing in a business counselor, preferably one that can accommodate social distancing.
9. Utilize government funding programs efficiently
Remember that only 75% of any PPP loan has to cover payroll. The other 25% can go towards other approved expenses, including rent, utilities and mortgage interest. This can be very handy for small businesses that need some extra to carry on basic functions, pay landlords and pay for basic expenses. Although the initial batch of loans may have been tapped out, the federal government is still making appropriate noises that they need to help small businesses, so there may be further relief.
10. Ask for payment deferrals
Some banks and credit unions will grant payment deferrals during this exceptional time. This means you don’t have to worry about repaying loans when you have nothing coming in, and although it adds extra onto the end of the loan, it gives you a breathing space. Obviously, this option may not be for everyone, but it’s worth considering.
11. Consider Kickstarter or GoFundMe
For some businesses, a Kickstarter or a GoFundMe might be a way to get a new product onto the shelves. If you have an idea for a board game, a novel piece of tech, or even something that makes people’s lives easier, this is a popular way of raising funds. Also, making sure you have a good advertising campaign can help offset a lot of the risk and cost.
People are at home more, so if you have a product that can make their lives easier, it may be worth expanding on it.
Wrapping It Up
At the end of the darkest hour is the dawn, and that cliché — and it really is a cliché — is worth remembering. This crisis will end, and businesses will reopen. Be kind to everyone but focus on keeping your business running as best as you can.
While you may need to make tough decisions, you can mitigate them as best you can and ensure that everyone is in as good a place as possible.