Updated: Mar 18
A month ago it was BREXIT and now it’s the coronavirus (COVID-19) and we are all fed up with the news. The government isn’t taking decisive action to stop the spread, people are panicking and your business is starting to suffer as a result of these uncertain times.
But it’s not all doom and gloom as these circumstances could help breathe new life into your business. We have put together a list of useful tips for you and your business to survive the next few weeks and perhaps evolve!
This pandemic might be long drawn, so it is important to take time to think about things you can do to counteract these uncertainties.
1. Take time to pivot and restrategise - This is something that we have done in the past week. It is an optimal time to look at the current situation and the direction it is heading in. Now is a good time to review the product or service you offer and think about ways to continue sales if we do go into lockdown.
2. Think Virtual - Are there any areas of your business you can move online? We are very lucky to have today's technology and are able to automate so many processes and convert things into digital format for our community. Over the last week, we have seen face to face meetings cancelled and taken over the phone or on video chat - this one is quite obvious. And we have also seen entrepreneurs get creative - personal trainers offering “facetime training sessions” and live training sessions moved to online webinar sessions.
We realised that continuing our events is not the responsible thing to do in this current climate, especially as our events are baby-friendly. So we have taken the last week to rethink our strategy. We have decided to move our events online, in the form of webinar style talks.
Take a look at your business and think of practical changes you can make to move it online. An added bonus to moving parts of your business online is that there is the opportunity to grow your customer base as you will have greater reach. Even if your business depends on face to face interactions, think of ways you could shift focus for now, maybe an online course, or webinar could be something to try.
3. Sustaining Cash Flow - People stop spending during uncertain times, and it is especially harder for them to spend at bricks and mortar businesses if they are not leaving their homes. Last week the Chancellor announced a package of measures to provide support to small businesses affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). The measures include a £3,000 grant for businesses that do not pay business rates and a new temporary coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme and the abolishment of business rates for small businesses. Click here for full details of what has been proposed, with more to follow this week.
4. Let's help each other - In times like this we should reach out and help those most affected in our communities - namely the elderly and the vulnerable. This means looking out for them and offering to go out and buy their medicines and do their grocery shopping. Check in on them and see how they’re doing.
The same goes for your business network! As a small business owner you probably rely on other small businesses to keep your business ticking. Let's help each other and offer support however we can. Purchasing goods and services from small businesses and check in with friends and your network of small business owners and see how they are doing. There are Facebook groups like “Doing it For The Kids” for freelancers and our “Mama Starts a Business - Let's talk shop!” for mums in business that are posting helpful and useful information to steer through this current climate.
5. Document Sharing - If you work in a team and your usual way of communicating is by meeting face to face and discuss work, you can still have the meeting but have it virtually via Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp, Zoom - there’s a number of providers that offer video chat and if you need to share screens Zoom, Google hangouts and Skype are a few that allow you to do so for free and set up is easy.
To stay organised set up a free Trello board that can easily be shared with your employees or teammates. A Trello board helps with tracking “to dos” and keeping up to date with projects. Google Drive is also a free tool provided by Google that allows you to keep all of your documents together in one virtual place that can be accessed by whoever you give permission to and best part of all, multiple people can work on any one Google document in real time.
6. Stay connected with your customers/audience - This is vital, especially if your business is not typically online. Send them an update on what you are doing to help prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) eg. extra cleaning measures in store, asking staff to stay home if they are presenting with any symptoms etc. If you are moving part of your business online, make sure to communicate this! And of course, if you decide to put things on hold until the coast is clear, make sure to let your customers/audience know that you are postponing your services as a result. Don’t drop off the face of the earth without a word. It is also helpful to change your email signature to reflect any changes in your schedule too! Communication is king.
7. Stuck at home with not much to do - If you decide to self isolate or get locked down and find yourself bored, use this opportunity to declutter - online and offline! If you find yourself bored, you probably have lots time on your hands and it is a good opportunity to get prepared and organised for when things start up again. You know what we’re talking about - the things that aren’t on your “to do” list and you keep ignoring but desperately need to be done!
Online - sift through your email inbox and organise emails into folders, clear out and organise your desktop/documents/downloads etc folders on your laptop, backup your phone and photos, plan your social media posts and get on top of your accounts.
Offline - clear out the papers sitting on your desk, on the table in the hallway, on the kitchen bench, wherever they are - we all have a pile or 2, maybe more! Open all that unopened mail and sort it, organise your physical business receipts and get stuck into organising your Monica cupboard! Now is the time to do this!
8. Keep the kids occupied - Make a list of activities the kids can do unsupervised while you are trying to work from home. Buy a tonne of activity books, make a list of educational programs they can watch, if they are old enough give them missions to help out around the house (God knows it will look like a bomb hit after ONE DAY of them staying home - teach them to manage their space and keep them occupied at the same time) Get them involved and give them a say (make them accountable!) in thinking of things to do at home.
9. Start a hobby - We can’t sit indoors and work the WHOLE time, it is important for our mental wellbeing, psyche and morale to be creative. Why not be inspired by the Italians and learn to play an instrument? There are many online courses available and Youtube hosts a vast array of talented musicians showing you how to for FREE! Why not go back to your New Year resolutions and look at the ones you have forgotten about eg, your pledge to read more.
10. Self-care - We keep banging the drum about self-care (physical AND mental) and how important it is to look after yourself in order to have a successful business. Even if you are staying away from the gym, there are plenty of apps and websites you can access with home workouts, no equipment needed! Now more than ever it's important to look after yourself. For inspiration check out our self-care ideas click here.
Be more present under lockdown - take time to chat, laugh, play board games, prepare home cooked meals, connect (or reconnect!) with friends who are also in lockdown in another country and try to stay away from the news!
With all this in mind and having to make changes to your business approach, it’s also a good time to update your business plan to reflect changes in your business. If you don’t have a business plan, it’s probably also a good time to put one together, check out our Lean Business Plan program that you can complete from home! Click here for more information.
Most importantly - all will be well, and we have to show our children how to react in times of anxiety. So, whatever works for you, we hope our suggestions inspire you with new ideas on how to keep going!
Stay safe and be in touch if you need, we continue this conversation in our Facebook Group - Mama Starts a Business - Let's talk shop!.
Dahlia & Elena