COVID-19 continues to be unpredictable, and its long-term effects unknowable, but these suggestions will help you decide how to use your downtime for business success and plan for the future.
Review your finances
You've likely been busy running your business, moving forward, and haven't had the time to comb through your balance sheets. But now that the world is in the midst of a pandemic, not only do you have some time, but you also realize that a decrease in business means it's a good time to crack down on spending.
Randy VanderVaate, president and CEO of Funeral Funds, a life insurance brokerage specializing in funeral costs, recommends managing your cash flow immediately. "To understand your cash and working capital needs, you need to have a clear look at your cash flow in the short term," VanderVaate says.
He also suggests to plan for this crisis lasting for months and taking that into consideration. "If your cash flow forecast indicates that liquidity will become an issue, include in your plan how to raise funds and control your cost. However, your cost-cutting measures should not compromise revenue-generating activities."
Another benefit to addressing your business budget is gaining confidence. When you know what you have, you can move forward. Galit Tsadik, a certified financial education instructor, suggests using your time to put together a solid budget. "Focusing on your budget can help you feel more in control of your finances in the midst of uncertainty. First, figure out your current cash flow and prioritize your spending accordingly," Tsadik advises.
While you have some free time on your hands, why not get your business organized? During high-volume business times, organization can often slip lower on your list of priorities, but getting organized now will benefit your business productivity later.
Ottomatias Peura, Chief Marketing Officer of Speechly, a voice technology application developer, is choosing to use the downtime created by COVID-19 to strengthen his business for the future.
"In a bustling economy, procedural and administrative duties sometimes get missed. We are using this time to streamline our approach and help create the necessary structure to the way we do business so that when the economy is strong again, we will grow," Peura says.
Michael Sena, founder of Senacea, a spreadsheet consultancy company, recommends using the extra time to tackle mundane digital housekeeping as well. "In the office environment, it is often difficult to find time to look into the old files and folders and remove unnecessary file copies and old versions. Working from home allows for deep, uninterrupted work. Even putting the email inbox in order goes a long way," he says.
Peura says that his company has been using this time to train their team and learn new tools themselves.
"Since COVID [started], our team members have been taking several training programs to help them learn more about our industry and how to serve our customers better," he says.
They have also been using their downtime to learn about their software. "In our industry, we purchase a lot of software to better manage our services, and we must know how to use this software effectively to meet our customers' needs. These are the times to learn the intricacies of that software," Peura says.
Educating yourself and your team is essential, but you can also use this time to educate your customers. Jayson DeMers, CEO of EmailAnalytics, an email tracking tool, says that while businesses wait to get through the pandemic, owners "have a fantastic opportunity to work on content marketing efforts and SEO."
DeMers says that one way business owners can help their customers is to "write a blog post (or make a YouTube video or audio podcast) that provides relevant advice or helpful information to your target audience relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What unique or specific advice can you provide to your audience based on your expertise or your business's position in the marketplace?" And by participating in the conversation, DeMers believes you will be remembered when the world comes out of this crisis.
This pandemic has caused a lot of stress and strife for many business owners, but by focusing on how to productively use your downtime instead of panicking, you can position your business for future success and emerge even stronger than you were before COVID-19.
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