Times are certainly in flux and life at present is somewhat surreal. For those in business, I know many of you are struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and that’s why I wanted to share with you some business coaching tips and positive business actions you can be taking at this time.
Positive Business Actions During the COVID-19 Pandemic
I cannot stress enough the importance of communication. This communication needs to be with staff, clients and suppliers. You are likely feeling uncertain or fearful. Talking to a few of my business coaching clients of late, the biggest fear has been that if they talk to their clients, that client might cancel services. Instinctively, they wanted to bury their head in the sand. One particular client followed my advice and talked to her clients and later sent me an email that she felt so much better after doing so AND her clients were really appreciative of the reach out. In turn, her clients expressed their fears, discussions were had and both parties left the call feeling better. Also as important, she cemented her relationship further with her own clients.
Be a strong (and positive) leader
With your team, it’s really vital to keep up communication too. Don’t leave them guessing or feeling isolated. Be a strong leader. If they are working at home, it’s important to keep in touch and not simply send them home and assume they will be fine. Be mindful of how you deliver messages too; I’ve seen a couple of ‘shocker’ emails to staff this last week which delivered a negative message in the worse possible way. There may be some tough decisions to be made, but there is always a right and wrong way to action those. One rule I’ve always said should happen is that that bad news is delivered in person. Sure it will likely be followed up with a written confirmation. I realise that face-to-face can’t happen at present, but I think everyone’s phone is working just fine!
One of the things I love most about small business is the ability to pivot on a dime. How can you adapt and change your business? I’ve seen café’s and butchers doing takeaway, fitness instructors moving to Zoom and advisors switching to Skype for their meetings. My local Chamber of Commerce had its last meeting via Facebook Live. The interesting thing is that some of these changes may actually be more effective and may well (in some form) be adopted once we come out the other end. Some workers have said they are actually getting more work done from home, so potentially will you offer workers the opportunity in the future to work more from home and only come into the office as needed? Of course, with these varied working arrangements you need to ensure productivity, but that’s do-able without having to hover over your team to ensure they are working.
These reviews can be both in your personal life as well as your business. For many small business owners, the two are intertwined so both are relevant. What costs in your personal life do you assess as critical and important versus wasteful or highly unnecessary? Ditto for business. One great way to action this is to look at credit card or bank statements for the last 3 months. One business coaching client of mine had Stan, Netflix and Foxtel; two have since been cut. Another client was getting water delivered despite having a water filter on the kitchen tap. Is now an opportune time to negotiate special rates? When was the last time you saw your finance broker to review home or business interest rates?
Remember also that one substantial cost is labour. Are you and your staff doing things the long or hard way? Is there a waste of the very critical resource called time? Is there duplication within your business or a reasonable amount of time spent on rectification work?
However, one thing you should not be cutting out is the expenses which help grow your business, especially marketing and business improvement – I’ll talk more about this next.
Any of you who have even done fitness training will know it takes months and months of hard work to get fit, and then when you have only just a couple of weeks off, your fitness drops off incredibly quickly. Marketing is somewhat similar. Especially at this time, you need to keep your marketing going; being seen and staying top of mind. In time, people will need and want your product or service. If you’ve gone into ‘hibernation’ and disappeared off the face of the earth, then be assured one of your competitors will happily step up. However, having said that, if you’re watching your dollars, then review your marketing plan, strategies and marketing outlets to ensure you’re spending money on the best and most effective methods.
Keep up your own education
In one of my prior blogs I talked about getting things done; whether that’s preparing to get your tax returns done, updating your online profiles, writing blogs or talking to clients. If you are quieter and have time, be productive. It might be a great time to improve your own education – whether that be a course, reading a book or blog, podcasts, webinars, videos. If you are an educator or advisor, then you should be creating content for these mediums so that people can see you and your great content.
Review your Strategy Plans
In all my years of business coaching and working with clients on SWOT Analysis (SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) I have never seen ‘Pandemic’ (or anything of similar name) listed as a threat. Some things we cannot predict, but I think we are all older and wiser from this experience. Sh*t does happen. How many of you have a Crisis & Recovery Plan? Myself, I have a computer emergency recovery plan which impressed the socks off my IT guy. My laptop dying is a real possible thing and something I absolutely want to be prepared for, so I am. What about a bad review on Google? How many of you have semi-prepared wording for that possibility? What about having a documented policy? Often in the heat of emotion, fear or stress, we could potentially respond in a less than favourable way – or not respond at all. Getting a virus on your computer or being hacked are very real possibilities.
At this time, it’s worth reviewing the different aspects, services or product lines. Are you ‘carrying’ a part of your business which (even before COVID-19) was not profitable? I know some products or services are ‘loss leaders’ and generate great income elsewhere, but if that is not the case, why are you holding onto something which is not profitable? It may well be that you haven’t had time to consider the matter, or there is an emotional attachment, however that should change now.
Is it worth revisiting your business model at this time? However, I must stress, don’t make any ‘knee-jerk’ decisions or actions. Now is a great time to review, but be sure that your decisions are measured, well thought out and sensible. That is one of the benefits of having a business coach; having that expert to bounce ideas off.
I wouldn’t be leading by example if I didn’t do what I tell all clients; so here is my ‘call to action’. If you are struggling or would like to have a discussion, I offer a free 45 minutes consultation and I specifically have a Crisis Business Coaching program – just click here to learn more. Do stay safe and healthy – wishing you all the best!