When the news of the Coronavirus hit and social distancing became the national standard, I’ll be honest that I spent about a week in panic mode. There was part of me praising God that I’ve built something that can be sustained by my entire team staying home and serving our community from their own safe spaces, and then the other part of me was breaking down thinking about the many entrepreneurs I know and serve who were already beginning to face dire consequences of this fast-spreading disease.
This is a situation that was impossible to plan for and I know so many businesses are now scrambling to make ends meet and wondering if they’ll survive this slow and uncomfortable season. What I keep returning to is this: entrepreneurs are the most resilient human beings I know. They have the grit and tenacity to walk through lean times and come out just as passionate and ready to serve their people and offer incredible gifts to the world. And just because life looks different right now doesn’t mean it will stay this way.
I can’t see the future but I am grasping tightly to a knowing that things WILL turn around and when they do, you will be in high demand to fulfill the needs of a world that has been in a purgatory of sorts. Until then, no matter what type of business you run, I want to give you a plan and ideas for ways to continue earning profits, prep for busier times, and sustain your business.
How to sustain a product-based business
Let’s walk through proactive ways you can be preserving your product-based business. Even though you may rely on foot traffic for sales, there are lots of ways to pivot right now to keep cash coming in even while interactions are limited. Try this:
- Online shop: If your products aren’t available online, let this be your number one priority. Create a pop-up shop or even a curated look at your bestsellers available on your website.
- Gift cards: Create a way for people to purchase gift cards to be used in the future. Make sure they are easily available and simple to purchase, and share how they’re available with your social following and email list.
- Run the numbers: Take time to run your data to see which products are the biggest needle movers — push those. Which ones are hard to move? Spend less energy and time on these.
- Reach out: Contact your customer database to keep them in the loop and let them know exactly how they can be supporting you right now.
- Stay present: Remain active on social media — people may be making limited purchasing decisions, but they’re online more than ever right now and you can be front of mind for then they do make purchases in the future if you stay active and present online.
- Educate: Tell people what your product is, and why it’s valuable or helpful. Take this time to create resources about what you sell and help people imagine themselves being a customer.
How to sustain a service-based business
As someone who was a wedding photographer for years, my heart’s been aching as I’ve watched what is unfolding for service-based businesses. I know things are unpredictable right now, but they will pick up again and when they do, you’ll likely get very busy, very fast. Prep the flood gates now by doing this:
- Update your site: So many service-based businesses get caught up doing their service that their website and offers are often not reflective of their brand.
- Reach out: Stay in communication with clients to provide information, education, and insight. They have a lot of questions, and you don’t need to have all the answers but you can position yourself as an expert in your field and someone who they can come to when they need support. If you’re in the event business, postpone and don’t cancel bookings.
- Streamline systems: Create the structure and systems necessary for you to be able to manage the workload when it gets busy again. How can you prepare, organize, and simplify things now for the busy time?
- Client experience: Work on pricing guides, email templates, workflows, delivery methods to deliver exceptional client experiences for each and every client. What can you create a standard operating procedure around?
- Helpful content: Publish content that will be helpful for your ideal clients in this season. What questions do they have? What are they Googling? Create that and publish.
How to sustain an online business
If you run an online business, I bet you’re feeling immense gratitude right now, but that also doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax. This is your time to serve more than ever, so here’s what I recommend doing:
- Serve, serve, serve: This is your moment to become a resource and example. How can you show up for a community that likely needs you right now?
- Pull the curtain back: Let people see behind the scenes. For online business owners, working from home is an everyday occurrence. Share your reality, tips, and tricks to help others feel less alone.
- Educate: What do you do and why do you do it? What are you passionate about? A lot of people are seeking information, inspiration, and yep, distraction online right now.
- Refine: Now is a great time to hone your skills, brush up on your knowledge, and refine your expertise with online learning.
- Revisit old content: Can it serve your audience right now? Pull from the archives to re-share content that is still pertinent and applicable to stand as a resource.
- Online presence: Give your brand and online information a refresher and check that your copy, images, and branding reflect who you are and where you’re going.
We all know entrepreneurship brings about many highs and lows, but when an unexpected hit comes, it can leave us wondering what we can be doing, how we can survive this, and if there are ways to perhaps even thrive during this time. I put together a robust, 10-page free download with even more tips for entrepreneurs to get through this with confidence and grace, with examples of what to be posting on social media right now, templates for communicating with clients, and ways to support other small businesses. Download it here.
I have walked through many waiting seasons in my personal and business life, and I can tell you that time is the resource that can help you to pivot and expand. Although I hate this circumstance, my hope is that with the time you have right now, you will have the space to breathe and dream again, and continue walking this path of entrepreneurship with all the strength I know is in you.