What COVID-19 has not been something to be celebrating or even happy about, I always try to look for ‘silver linings’ and I think some positive learnings and experiences for business owners have come out of the first couple of months of experiencing COVID-19.
Here are some things which we as business owners have learned:
Cash is more than king!
We have learned very quickly that profit or turnover means nothing; if you don’t have money to pay the bills, rent, staff (or feed our families) then we’re way up that creek without a paddle! There is an expression:
Revenue is vanity
Profit is sanity … but
Cash is reality!
Savings is critical!
So now we’ve established the importance of cash, now I think people are starting to appreciate the importance of having savings. When I start a new business owner on any of my coaching programs, I ask about their savings plan. Many business owners have nothing. So when the absolutely unexpected occurred and the Government said that your business doors are closing today, many businesses were in shock; as few have savings. Advisors and Accountants say you need 3-6 months of business operating expenditure funds to survive and in this case, that’s now far off the mark. We will get over all this, but did YOU learn anything? More importantly, once you get back on your feet, will you commence saving?
Having a plan B is ….
I recall some business advisors a few years back saying that having a Plan B was not wise. It was allowing people to fail or not give their best. I disagree. Having a Plan B gives you options. Yes, it does give you a safety net, but isn’t that sensible? After all, falling to the ground without a safety net is just suicide – so why would you? So if you don’t have a Plan B yet … when is that going to change?
Diversification is good!
The concept of niching had become popular and sure, there are some good reasons to niche, however of late, my affinity for diversification has proven you’ll be more likely to survive tough times. Having all your eggs in one basket has never been a smart strategy (in my opinion) but now more than ever, that is becoming more evident. That diversification may be in your marketing, it may be in your client base or the services or products that you offer.
We don’t have to go to the office!
So many businesses think they have to retain a traditional office. Despite staff wanting to work at home, there is strong resistance. Years ago in my prior business, I had about 80% of my staff working from home and because I offered those flexible working arrangements, then I was able to attract the best people. They were able to be around for family, didn’t have to spend heaps of time and money on travel and it allowed them to work when it suited them (often around family commitments). Sure, we tracked time, had KPIs set and they knew expectations … which also meant they produced more because they were focussed and appreciated the flexibility. The number of people who have said they are able to be more productive at home lately has really reinforced the concept that it’s do-able.
Meeting Face to Face (F2F) not required!
I will admit I like to meet a new client F2F at least once, but certainly meeting people via Zoom (or Skype) has been as effective. What is even better is that the prospect and myself are not wasting time sitting in a car driving to a meeting whilst still getting the opportunity to ‘eye-ball’ each other. I’m finding more and more people are becoming willing to change old ways.
SWOTs are not so silly!
As I coach businesses, I regularly encourage them to complete a SWOT analysis. The SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats. Now I will admit that I’ve not had a client list “Global Pandemic” as a business threat. However, whilst this one for most of us has been a doozy, there are absolutely many other threats, from a computer virus through to illness of the business owner. The beauty of a SWOT is identifying those threats and then putting in place strategies to overcome them, or at least mitigate them.
It doesn’t take a pandemic to show your clients love
Whilst some business owners are desperate to keep their clients, they are showing the love. However, this is something we should be doing all the time, not just now. I was only talking to a client the other day and reminded him that 68% of businesses leave us due to a perceived lack of indifference. That’s right, we lose them because they don’t feel the love!
It doesn’t take a pandemic to get value from reviewing your financials
Something all business owners are doing now more than ever is reviewing their income, expenses, budgets and cash-flow. This leads me to believe that people know how to do this and are instead simply selecting to not do so during ‘normal’ times. Reviewing your figures is a smart business practice all the time!
People are always looking for content
Now more than ever people are looking for content; education, learning, info, improvement ideas. This won’t stop once the Pandemic passes; sure it might ease a little as people resume their busy lives, but if you are present now and providing great content they might stay engaged ongoing.
People always look for leadership
In tough times or prosperous times, we look for leadership and those who are thought leaders are usually at the forefront. Now more than ever you should be looking at your leadership style to ascertain are you a leader and doing your best or are there perhaps some areas you could improve on?
Give away something
Kindness and giving now is good business and good karma (which I believe does come around). I’ve always supported community groups, plus frequently offer free sample coaching sessions, but when this broke, I contacted many of my ‘old’ clients and offered them a free Power Hour. Are you doing the ‘right thing’ and showing some kindness, or are you one of those businesses out there who is price gouging and ‘making hay whilst the sun shines’?
Your database is soooo important
Again, talking to one of my very new coaching clients, I suggested they do an email blast to their customers to alert them how they were doing business differently. I got a look that told me there might be a problem. The challenge was that their ‘database’ existed in about 5 different locations, was not consolidated or in any uniform order. Your database is one of the very important aspects of your business, at any time.
Great lead conversion rates will save you money!
This is an activity which makes good sense regardless of the economic conditions. If you have a high sales conversion rate then you will need to spend less time selling (which saves money) plus your marketing dollar is more effective, which also saves you money AND makes you money. I work with business coaching clients to get their sales process right and help them sell better and more effectively.
I can make time for what’s important
I will say it’s been nice to have some ‘me’ time and not be running around like a chook with its head cut off. It’s also allowed me time to ensure everything is running at peak efficiency. Whether it’s taking a break, relaxing, being organised or getting ahead, I have remembered what I should be focussing on … which is often the important, rather than the urgent.
Check out my business coaching services so you can get back on track stronger.