The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted lives and businesses worldwide. As shelter-in-place orders continue in many states and business owners assess how to move forward and recover, we asked what entrepreneurs and businesses are doing to weather the virus and come out stronger. Here is the advice we received:
Focus on the essentials. "Eliminate all non-value-added activities and strictly focus on the things that do matter and contribute to the sustainability and growth of the business," says Sergei Belous, CEO of real estate investment platform upflip. Double-down on what works and stop everything else. "I've learned that a lot of things we focus on and do don't add much value and can be eliminated, and the energy and resources can be channeled to other departments that have much higher upside, in the long run … focus on the things that really move the needle and eliminate everything else, all the waste," he says.
Look for opportunities. Although Eileen Schlesier's firm, BeeSmart Social Media, hasn't changed much in the last few months, since it was already a remote workplace, Schlesier is exploring new opportunities that will benefit the business long-term. "There are many opportunities out there," she says, "for example, some of the best employees are now available for hire." Now could be a great time to onboard talent that will help your company grow exponentially post-virus.
Offer clients added value. With many companies worried about the future, Bryan Mattimore, chief idea guy with The Growth Engine Co., has found that engaging "clients, suppliers, business partners, consultants, and even friends in a series of joint, virtual brainstorming (or ideation) sessions to invent new products, services, joint ventures, that they could offer during this crisis" can forge new relationships and solidify existing ones. With remote meeting technology such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, connecting virtually with business partners and colleagues is easy and low cost.
Pivot. "The pandemic has changed the way we do business," says Jasmine Young, CPA, CFE and CEO of Southern Tax Preparation & Services, LLC. "As a result of COVID-19, Southern Tax pivoted its focus from providing education through the sale of our services to simply making education readily available to our audience in a 100% online format through our education platform, Financial Literacy University; social media platforms and online communities; email campaigns; and live video conferencing." By creating a new revenue stream, the firm's total revenue has also increased. Other businesses can apply this same approach by developing education programs that complement or supplement existing products and services.
Branch out. Tattoo artist Dillon Forte, who runs two Dillon Forte Tattoo studios in California, knew he had to "quickly pivot and figure out creative ways to monetize and expand my brand," when regulations prohibiting personal services were handed down. He started by creating products that can be sold and shipping via online transactions, such as large-scale canvas art pieces. He also partnered with Inbox for a collection of at-home temporary tattoos that last 1-2 weeks and invested more attention in marketing his eco-friendly tattoo supply company Forte Tattoo Tech.
Repackage your offerings. Margelit and Shmuel Hoffman run a commercial and documentary film production company, Hoffman Productions, Inc., which produces films for nonprofit events and schools. But when schools closed and events were canceled, the company had to "revise its offerings," explains Margelit Hoffman. "We decided that, since our clients have nothing to film right now due to social distancing, we would offer them a re-cut of old footage in a new and exciting way, and sent them a film for one of our clients who had asked us to do just that." A new service was born.
Invest in content. Jeremy Owens, CMO of Seriously Smoked, meat smoking specialists, recommends doubling or tripling your content production. When in-person sales aren't possible, now is an opportunity to "build customer relationships instead," says Owens, "by producing relevant content that engages with their target market. Companies can revamp their social media channels, websites, and other online marketing tools to reach out to their audience to build their influence." With so many buyers stuck at home, the consumption of online content has skyrocketed. Online video views, in particular, have risen significantly during COVID-19, according to the World Economic Forum.
Keep in touch. "One of the best survival tips that you can ever have is to take care of, and keep in touch with, your clients. Being in a relationship with a client is the only thing that could keep them patronizing your business," says Chad Hill, CMO at veterans disability lawyers Hill & Ponton Law. Although there may be less work at the moment, long-term, there will likely be more opportunities.
Reduce your consumption of news about coronavirus. "Limit your intake of COVD-19-related news," recommends Garry Brownrigg, CEO of content management system QuickSilk. "It's not healthy…instead, focus that time towards your team and the steps to take to strengthen your business moving forward." Don't become stuck or paralyzed by the bad news around you, but look for opportunities you can make right now that will improve your business long-term. Brownrigg has spent time strengthening QuickSilk's digital footprint, creating a new series of expert blog posts on its website to help customers come out of this economic pause stronger.
Focus on the fundamentals, jettison extra expenses you don't need right now, and look for ways to serve your current customers – who are struggling right along with you – in order to forge new alliances and create demand for products and services you could sell, but perhaps haven't considered until now. Even during challenging times, there will be new opportunities to uncover. Plan for the future now.