As we enter week number-who-even-knows-anymore of what some people are coining “the new normal,” businesses are undeniably starting to struggle. Yes, of course, there are the financial implications of this global disaster – and they are more than well documented by the media – but there are other aspects to cover, too.
From your website and store to yourself and your staff, there’s more than the monetary side of things to concentrate on when it comes to trying to stay motivated and ensuring your business comes out ready to get back to normal once we’re on the other side of this crisis.
So, finances aside, as an SMB, how do you stay motivated when the world is standing still?
There might be an eerie quiet to the streets and it might seem as though people have disappeared, but online sales say differently. With so many of us confined to our homes, buying online – which of course was already a popular means of purchasing – has now become a more ingrained way of life.
Yes, this is a good time for companies who sell necessities, but if you’re operating in what’s deemed to be a “non-essential” sector right now, don’t lose hope. Boredom alone is enough to encourage online shopping, and while some people are in financial difficulty, others have more disposable cash than ever right now. If you’re in a position to have a sale or offer discounts, this could be a good time to consider doing so. It helps keep your business at the forefront of people’s minds and sales trickling in
This period offers the ideal time to take stock of your business analytics and data and look at what has been going well for you. Are you up to date with search trends in your sector? Is your website optimized for highly searched terms? What are your competitors doing? These are all crucial questions to be asking yourself, helping you stay ahead of the game and ready to reap the benefits once business picks back up. So, from a site-wide metadata update to adding more products, it’s well worth investing the time getting your website in order.
You can also think about updating banners on your website to let customers know how the pandemic affects the way you’re operating, and keep your blog up to date with interesting and valuable content. The second of these will not only help you maintain search rankings but also provide your users with genuinely informative responses to the things they’re interested in knowing right now.
From pet stores and coffee shops to hardware stores and salons, there are so many sectors being impacted by the current social and economical changes to the way we live. While shutting up shop for an extended period of time is probably something you never imagined doing, retailers across the world have been forced to adapt to a new reality. And this means trying to find a new and unprecedented way to operate.
While you might not have any say over closing your store, there are still things you can be doing at a physical retail store to prepare you for when the world goes back to normal – or, at least, some form of normal. As a business owner, time is not something that’s usually on your side, so there are undoubtedly a whole host of things you’ve been meaning to do if you ever had the time.
From updating your waste management system and changing suppliers for certain items to looking into a new POS system and revamping your store layout, this is the perfect time to do all of those things that you’d realistically never get around to if it was business as usual. Just make sure you’re adhering to the social distancing guidelines, of course.
In order to make sure you’re looking after your customers during this period of uncertainty, you need to place yourself in their shoes. What is it they’re looking for from you? Do they need reassurance? Information about changes to store opening times? Transparency about delivery dates? Small actions like updating your Google My Business page can make all the difference when it comes to customer retention. After all, the last thing a person wants to do is trek to your store to find you’ve temporarily changed your business hours.
Next, you’ll want to look at how your customers are behaving online. Is there still demand for what you do? If there is, how can you be meeting it? Okay, you might not be able to allow people into your store right now, but can you arrange home deliveries? Social media is a great way to check-in with your followers, see what they’re up to during lockdown, and find out what they’re missing about day-to-day life. You can even ask them if they’d be interested in a delivery option.
For those operating in the food and drink sector, why not think about arranging gift cards and vouchers for your customers to buy? This way, you’ll be bringing in some much-needed revenue for right now, and they can enjoy your products once you’re back open for business. You’ll find that most loyal customers will be on board with doing what they can to support their local businesses, so don’t be afraid to give this a try.
As an SMB, you could be operating with anywhere from one to 100 employees and this means many of the decisions that you’ve likely already made or still have to make will be anything but easy. While we won’t go into the legalities around furloughing staff, we would suggest you explore all options available to your business and make sure you’re in the know about support available before you make any decisions.
If you’re in a position where your business has been deemed essential and is able to still operate, you undoubtedly already have all of the safety measures in place. But in addition to their physical well-being, it’s crucial to be checking in on the mental health of your team. We’re seeing monumental changes to the way we live right now, and these will not be without consequence. So, whether it’s a weekly social distancing team meeting or a little thank you at the end of every shift, keep talking, checking in, and supporting each other.
The same goes for remote workers, too. If you and your team are now working from home, you’ll really need to pull together to stay motivated and productive on a daily basis. Platforms like Slack, Google Hangouts, and Zoom are being utilized more than ever right now, with people feeling the need to jump on video calls rather than just phone calls. Don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face interaction, even if it is via technology!
Stay Motivated as a Business Owner During COVID
With the world seemingly on pause, it can be difficult to motivate yourself day-to-day to keep trying to drive your business forward. Even though you know the steps you’re making right now will be the things that help you once this is all over, how do you find the get-up-and-go to press on? Hopefully, by focusing on your website, store, staff, and customers, you can find plenty of ways to keep busy and source all the motivation you need to ride out this storm and help your SMB survive this truly remarkable time in history.
Written by Sam from Prebeat – a sound and lighting retailer for the entertainment industry.