Business in lockdown, time to work on it not in it

Business in lockdown, time to work on it not in it

“Business in lockdown, time to work on it not in it” should be your catch cry at the moment. You needed some time to get your head around your business being “suspended” and the ramifications of that so let’s now take some time that you usually never have to spend some time on your business. We are approaching a softening of lockdown levels so now is the time to get your head in the right space. It’s time to tidy up the things you never get around to and so you’re ready and fighting fit when the lockdown is lifted, let’s find some way for your business to benefit in some way from this time.

Lockdown levels: now is the time to explore what you can do in each lockdown level and plan and prepare for each level. Don’t let your competitors get the jump on you because they prepared and you didn’t, tailor your offerings for each level now.

Website: have a look around at your competitor’s websites and look at what they do well and what they do badly. Then look at yours and see how it compares and what can be improved. Do you make it clear what problems you solve and why they should choose you, do you have a clear “call to action”.

Products: Review your products and what you have on offer and how will those relate to the changed environment after lockdown – e.g. gyms have been offering group Zoom classes during lockdown and people are liking it so do they run in gym classes but also film them and allow remote dial in. Have a look at product/service costings, are they reasonable and up to date? Maybe consider short “after lockdown” specials before you change prices.

Check your supplier’s preparedness and systems for each lockdown level and plan your business accordingly for that lockdown level.

When was the last time you looked to see what new products/services came along recently and should you add to or replace? Has the market needs changed since you last sat back for a review and do you need to meet the new market expectations.

Check that your suppliers are still in operation and what their stock levels are to ensure that you are not left short when you restart trading. When was the last time you negotiated their rates and is it time to do so?

Advertising: Do you need to relook at how you advertise, does your working suit today’s market, has it been converting and if not why? In level 4 don’t “sell” but be “helpful”, people may not be ready to buy at level 4 so keep them on side with helpful hints/suggestions.

CRM: Do you have a good customer database, if not start one and if so does it need some updating of old/new customers? Does it need to be split into categories so you can target market? Do you have monthly e-newsletters to keep you in client’s minds when they need help, telling them of new specials or products/services?

Accounts: Are these set up correctly or still as they were when you started? Can you easily print reports on areas of your business to see the return on investment. Do you have tracking codes set up, do you have recurring invoicing set up and do you have cost centres set up so you can easily get information?

Legal: When was the last time you reviewed your Terms of Trade, Partnership Agreement or any other legal documents your business may need to stand behind in Court. Do you have a Power of attorney in place or a will?

Insurance: Have you had a good look at your insurance to make sure all eventualities are covered or do you have policies that you’re paying for but now not needing? Is your ACC correctly configured? Ask your broker for a list of insurances you have and a recommendation for some to cover any gaps.

Health & Safety: Are you compliant because if not your insurance may be voided. Have a look at the requirements and work through them to make sure you know what you need in place. Ensure your documentation is up to date, have you missed any law changes?

Automation: This has changed rapidly over the last few years and some of the time consuming work you are doing can be automated. For example any overdue invoices can have emails sent at determined intervals with statement copies and invoice copies automatically attached. Online orders and payment processing with automatic receipt sending etc.

Networking: Are you in touch with you network of referrers? You need to maintain those relationships in this time. Use Zoom to keep in touch with groups or 1-1, you need to stay in touch so when somebody asks you are the first person to pop into their minds.

Strategic alliances: Non-competing but complementary businesses are also hurting so can you combine resources, databases, networks to support each other? By paring efforts you can increase your reach and reduce costs by sharing them.

Going forward: You need to keep some advertising or public profile up so people know you’re still around so when lockdown is over they can contact you again rather than having to look around.

Business plan: have a look at where you are now and where you want to be in 5 years, set yearly targets and measurable goals.

Whilst you may not be in a position to financially undertake some of these things right now you can gather information and put a plan together to implement in stages. Accountants, Lawyers, Web designers etc. are generally working from home so make some enquiries.

Plan for coming out of, or lowering of, lockdown level: time now to bring yourself and business back to “first to mind” by getting some promotional material out there. You need to remind your customers who you are and what particular problem of theirs do you offer a solution for. Remember most of your customers have suffered financially so offer an entry point option and a more expensive option with a finance/credit card option to pay for it. There are many firms that offer buy now/pay it off options some only for retailers but some specifically for service based work. Get this in place now. An example for a photographer a blog about reconnecting with your market with a package of headshots/product shots and a couple of talking head promo videos all covered by the repayment option or a builder highlighting that stock levels are low so they need to book you in now so you can order.

Posted: Wednesday 15 September 2021