I think it’s fair to say that today in a COVID-19 environment it’s a time of severity. Whilst this situation is in no way good, there are some positives which may come out of this situation. I am very much hoping that people will do business differently, or rather, I should say, better.
Do Business Differently
Call it quits
I’m not a fan of quitting, but sensibility comes into play. This should not be decided upon as a knee jerk reaction, however too often, businesses which are failing go on and on and should not. If you’ve had years or months of losses and advice is that you are not a turnaround business, then it might be time to make a tough decision.
Deliver your service in a different way
Traditional retail, for example, has seen a massive change and whilst ‘store browsing’ has moved online, some retailers are making the shopping in person, more of an experience. Other retailers are offering online options as they recognise more and more people are buying online. If you are in retail and don’t have an online store, I’ve got to wonder how you will be faring in a couple of years, unless you are doing something creative, original or innovative. Naturally, the online experience needs to be easy and smooth going. Sites where you can’t find sizing charts, or don’t know the shipping cost until you enter your credit card in (and then have a coronary because it’s ridiculously high) will lose prospects fast. Many businesses have said they could not do business differently, but with the current situation, we have seen many actually discover they can change – you just have to be willing to look at different options.
Niching and narrowing your target market?
Whilst some business coaches are a fan of niching, it has never been one of my favourite strategies. The big plusses of niching are that you can show you are a specialist in a specific area and your marketing message can be quite specific. So should you narrow your target market? Niching is popular until suddenly an industry gets hit. A degree of niching can work well, but you don’t want all your eggs in one basket. I niche my business coaching services to service-based businesses BUT that’s a whole swag and includes professional services, trade services, allied health and medical services and more. If you niche down too far, then you open yourself to exposure if something happens to that industry.
Add further income streams
Along with niching strategies comes also diversification in products or services. Look at breweries that instantly were able to switch to making hand sanitizer. This is perhaps a better example of entrepreneurial dexterity but still demonstrates that we can add or include different income streams we may not have previously considered. Likewise, if you have an income stream which is not profitable, maybe it’s time to prune that branch. Then do business differently.
Create offers which are too hard to ignore
When times are tougher, we need to often work harder and better. Only the strong will survive, so you need to be the business which stands out. This doesn’t mean just throwing more and more money out there into marketing but instead doing smart marketing. An offer too hard to ignore doesn’t necessarily mean hugely discounted – in fact, discounting isn’t wise. Find a different way to promote your service which gets noticed. Remember that offers are not just at time of buying, but often also purely to draw you into the marketing of the business; so it might be a free video series or free book.
Consider change and be innovative
For many businesses they were not keen to have staff working from home till it was forced upon them. They believed that it wouldn’t be effective and in all honesty, figured staff would just sit at home and not be productive. And sure, the wrong staff will, but the right staff, with the right KPIs and targets absolutely will. In fact, cut out the interruptions, desk visits, ‘water cooler chatter’ etc and you’ll see a marketed productivity improvement. Many executives and managers say their most productive time is either before everyone gets in or after everyone leaves. That’s because of the interruption factor. So many businesses, owners and yes, even their staff don’t like change. Couple change with being innovative and as long as you’re on the right path, you will do well.
Change your processes
Interestingly, when there is an emergency things can get done – and quickly. Why not all the time? Government and some businesses are too laden in systems, complicated and bureaucratic processes that take up time and money. When you are more efficient, more streamlined and running ‘leaner’ then you spend less. What in your processes is duplicated? Where do you have unnecessary steps that add little value? Now, particularly with extra time on your hands, is an excellent opportunity to review your processes and see where there are cumbersome, duplicative, or superfluous.
Make it easy to do business with you
When I coach my business coaching clients I talk about this regularly. It’s not necessarily a ‘do in the tough times’ practice, it really should be practice all the time. I’ve always believed there should be 3 rules:
Rule 1 – Make it easy for someone to give, and do business with you!
Rule 2 – Make it easy for someone to pay you!
Rule 3 – Make it easy for someone to do you a favour!
Review your figures
Yes, another task which should always happen, but I know many businesses at present are really reviewing their figures. Why they don’t do this every month isn’t really a mystery. Most people don’t see figures as important and don’t allocate the time to do it. Additionally, I’ve coached a few clients where figures are not their forte, but I’ve taught them what they need to know (or ask) and thus, given them the knowledge to review and understand their business figures. At least monthly, if not more often, you should be looking at the following:
• Accounts receivable – to ensure your customers have paid. On average only 1 in 4 businesses will pick up the phone to be paid.
• Accounts payable – to see who you owe.
• P&L statement – ideally broken up into a month by month comparison.
Implement a budget
I know some people hate the word budget. It’s akin to ‘diet’ or ‘doing without’ but if you call it Profit Plan do you feel better about the concept? Seeing up the budget is only part of the gold. The true gold comes in the month by month comparison that you will do. Once you start thinking about your budget on a regular basis, you are then focusing on your expenditure and what you focus on, you can manage and control.
Cut the waste
So you’ve reviewed your processes, implemented your budget and have your eyes open to all aspects of your business. Now is the time to cut the waste or ‘trim the fat’. Remember that inefficiencies can be sometimes less obvious. People’s time is a huge resource but one which is often rarely well-tracked and therefore time inefficiencies rarely identified. Get smart about this (without becoming a Nazi) and cut out waste in whatever area that is.
Get a coach
Ok, yep I’m a coach and perhaps a little partial to the concept of coaching, but when you think about it, all the best athletes and best businesses have advisors and coaches. A fresh set of eyes often is the necessary ingredient, plus add in experience and accountability and you will be doing things differently. Let’s start to do business differently.
If you’re interested in coaching and want that guidance, support and accountability from an industry expert with 30+ years of experience, give me a call on 0411 622 666 today!