Nigel Botteril is a business mentor at Entrepreneurs Circle, who educates, motivates and helps business owners take their next step. He gives his insight into how best to navigate the coming months with key tips to help your business withstand the impact of coronavirus.
1. Protect yourself
It’s incredibly important to protect your physical and mental health during these unprecedented times. Key things to remember are:
- This will pass, this isn’t forever: the act of worrying doesn’t solve anything. Try to be a positive influence, not part of the panic mob.
- Keep calm and take your time: decisions made under fear are usually bad ones. Take the time to think about the long term impact of your actions.
- Ace working from home: it can be hard to stay motivated when working remotely, to overcome this list three things you want to get done today and stick to it.
Your success during these times is 90% down to you and 10% down to the outside world. Focus on what you can control and try to make the best out of this situation. Take this opportunity, where you’re perhaps quieter, to focus on your business and ensure you’re working with switched-on, motivated people.
2. Protect your business
As a small business owner, now’s the time to show leadership to your team, customers and market. Here are some tips to help you:
- Make use of the grants and government-led funding opportunities: there are lots of government resources that are available to ease the uncertainty felt by small businesses. It’s important to make the most of these initiatives while they’re available.
- There’s a huge opportunity once this passes: be prepared for when this is all over. This is your responsibility.
- Ace your social media game plan and execution: people are at home so will naturally consume more content via their social platforms during this time — and it’s free.
- Be creative: how many emails relating to coronavirus have you received in your inbox recently? It’s important to communicate regularly with your customers, but try and do something different. Be creative! If you have the capacity, ring your existing customer base and check in with them. Think about offers that they can purchase from you now and redeem within the next 12 months.
Most companies will say the right thing; just in the wrong way! Try and make your communication as interesting as possible, and start preparing now for when this is all over.
How do you keep business going if all staff are not allowed to work?
- There’s government guidance on which staff need to stop working and you need to give this careful thought. It’s important that you don’t stop everything.
- You may potentially have access to funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.
- Use the lockdown period to do good things. Cutting staff instantly might not be the best decision in the long term. Have a think about the cost of paying someone full time who can take the day to day burden off of your shoulders. This will mean you can focus on the long term strategy of your business.
- You need to think intelligently and broadly. If you let everyone go, then your business could emerge in a weakened state.
Is it okay to advertise services at a time like this? How do we communicate now in a way that is not too opportunistic/unethical?
You can communicate within the context of your market and also within the context of what is going on. Take this opportunity to help people. Advise them on what to do next. The solution doesn’t have to be the product or service that you offer.
As an example, Entrepreneurs Circle have had a significant upsurge in membership as a result of this webinar. The initial intention of the webinar was to help small businesses. However, as a result, some businesses have enrolled and will end up becoming paying customers. The important thing to remember is to give value and advise people on what they should be doing next. If you have the capacity to, offer to jump on a call with them.
Some customers are expecting to postpone at no extra cost — how can we deal with requests without looking like the bad guy?
These are challenging situations. You need to be fair to your customers but also to your business, it is about finding a balance.
What is the meaning of furlough?
Looking at the HMRC full guidance, the official definition is someone who has been asked to stop working but not been made redundant. They effectively take a leave of absence.
How is it best to keep in touch with the team while everyone is WFH?
Make sure you are on Google Hangouts and Zoom. Have a catch up every morning and get everyone ready for the day. It’s important to keep people together.
Any advice on how to keep a sales team motivated during an inevitably quiet period?
You’re going to have to use tools that you would normally use. Try to keep the communication lines open and help provide them with the techniques to function and perform in different environments.
If you’re a small business, currently using offline and SEO marketing, should you prioritise a different marketing strategy or stop altogether?
Entrepreneurs Circle offer great materials that can help your business through the coming months. Take the next couple of days and go through the marketing site. It will help a lot. Remember, the best marketing option isn’t necessarily what is the cheapest — look at tracking and cost per lead or cost per sale. You can sign up here.
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