By Mark Wright, BBC Apprentice Winner, GBEA Alumni and Director of digital marketing agency, Climb Online
At the beginning of 2020, the main concern for any business owner was whether their industry sector would be impacted by Brexit. Fast forward four months and concerns over leaving the EU appear somewhat welcome, as we continue to steer through the unprecedented challenge that is covid-19.
Where many business owners have been forced to temporarily close their doors under lockdown measures, others are trying to uphold ‘business as usual’ with new remote working policies that maintain day-to-day operations, customer service and staff morale alike.
Whilst we have very little indication for how long this period will last and how it will impact the running of our business for the long-term, there is one thing we as entrepreneurs and business owners can control - how we respond to it:
The coronavirus pandemic has divided business owners into two camps: Those who stand back and watch what happens as they continue to lose revenue and those who stand and fight.
Ultimately, the business owners who retreat out of fear are those who will struggle in the long-term. No matter how challenging this period is, it is important to remember that you aren’t alone. Move forwards by being positive and proactive, outlining some clear goals to keep you on track and focused for the next quarter.
Focus on Maintenance not Growth:
Whilst the majority of us had clear and ambitious growth plans for 2020, there is no shame in adapting your plan and re-forecasting revenue for the next 3, 6 or even 12 months.
Unless you manufacture PPE, now is a time for survival and for maintaining the income and the customers that you do have, as opposed to worrying about achieving high growth targets.
This doesn’t mean that you should ignore sales entirely, as it is still critical to have a consistent sales strategy in place. Rather, it’s about honing operations to uphold quality product or service delivery, whilst continuing to drive new sales wherever possible.
Evaluate your Business:
Although incredibly challenging, this period presents a real opportunity to implement valuable changes that will enable you to emerge stronger once we return to some form of ‘business as usual’.
Use remote working and/or lockdown to evaluate what is and isn’t working within your business and be decisive with change. It may be disconcerting initially, but I guarantee it will be beneficial in the long-term.
If there is one thing that the coronavirus has shown us, it is the concept of community and pulling together to fight for survival. This is the same in business.
Communicating the need to work together and to work harder as a business, will motivate, drive and inspire team spirit, not only improving company culture remotely, but also when you return to the office.
Reach out to your team, thank them for their continued hard work and discuss how you can all work together to steady the ship. Aside from increasing brand loyalty, they will feel truly valued that you demonstrated your trust in them and their skillset.
The coronavirus has undoubtedly presented the greatest challenge for a generation, significantly impacting economies across the globe.
However, the worst thing we can do as entrepreneurs is to pause operations entirely. The economy needs to keep moving, staff members still need jobs and you still need to sell a product or service. This period will only be temporary. The businesses that ‘pause’ entirely are those that will struggle to regain the same level of turnover and growth in the long-term.
Keep pushing when your competitors don’t and you will come out on top, maybe not immediately but eventually.