The COVID–19 crisis has thrown up many unique challenges for business owners. Expenses and overheads do not go away: you must still pay your rent and wages. Many industries are facing a slowdown in cash-flow as businesses and customers alike tighten their belts. Flexibility is the key to dealing with these challenges. Here are the six key tips we recommend you live by in order to keep you up and running, your staff feeling supported, and your business-critical tasks continuing during this crisis.
Tip 1: Look for new opportunities, even if only temporary
A crisis can often be the catalyst to innovation, with changes that may have taken years to occur becoming a reality sooner. Because of recent events the world has needed to become ready for digital and other online or at-home solutions much sooner.
It is important to be courageous and innovative. Think of ways that you can deploy and communicate differently, whilst focusing on establishing innovative ways to deliver your solution or service. Can you offer your services online? Can you temporarily offer another product that is in demand right now? It may also be necessary to shift resources and be agile to make this happen.
Many businesses also have great showrooms setup but cannot show them off to customers right now. Consider what other ways you can showcase your products to potential customers. Photos and video walkthroughs or virtual tours can be used instead.
Tip 2: Treat your customers well, but be realistic
You may find yourself asking whether you should charge customers up-front to keep managing your cashflow. Afterall ‘Cash is King’. Or you might be asking if you should raise your prices to combat the slump. Many businesses are laying-off staff and making cutbacks so customers may want to delay projects midstream, which impacts your ability to deliver.
If you do start offering products and services that are in demand, be reasonable. Using this opportunity to price gouge or take advantage is not a smart move in the long term. While you may gain short term profits this will result in a loss of goodwill, brand reputation, and eventually customers.
Regular communication and keeping in touch with customers is definitely a good idea. Just make sure that your communication is relevant to their business. They do not want another ‘think piece’ on the coronavirus from a company flooding their inbox. Empathise with what they are going through and showcase how your business can help them now and in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Tip 3: Be flexible and make contingency plans
Business owners will also be finding it hard to plan, as it is more difficult than ever to predict future industry and economic trends. Contingency plans are the key to managing this uncertainty. Plan for different eventualities. Get ahead of the curb by looking into the future as best as possible. Situations to plan for include further restrictions on social movement, which may impact your business and that of your customers.
Tip 4: Make staff your highest priority
This is a challenging time for your staff. Make yourself available to your team when they need you, but do not become a micromanager. Check in on staff’s wellbeing more often. Managers should spend more time over the next few weeks and months having more informal chats with their employees about how they are coping and whether they need any extra support.
Send regular updates to your staff whilst being transparent about the business and challenges that you are facing. Always be honest and tell them the truth. Clear communication will help reduce any feelings of anxiety and uncertainty that your staff may be facing. Your transparency will be appreciated and improve staff engagement.
Tip 5: Empathise with your staff
Staff engagement is another challenge you may be facing. We are living through a pandemic; your staff will be stressed. They may have family members who are sick or who are working on the frontline and in regular contact with others. They may be at an increased risk of complications if they or someone close to them does get the virus. Family members may have lost jobs and are are likely under financial strain.
Tip 6: Invest in technology
You may be facing a lack of adequate technology to keep in touch with your staff. Having the right solutions in place will help with many of the challenges you are facing. Products like Microsoft Teams or Zoom help to mobilise your workforce and keep your business afloat whist most of your staff are working remotely. Although it may be critical to mobilise at speed, it is still important to treat any such technology rollout as a significant change initiative which needs proper change management planning and implementation.
Change is unpredictable, however it is inevitable. Whilst none of us could have predicted the current crisis, what will be remembered is how we manage and respond to it. The Cloud Collective is here to help you implement and use remote working technologies in the right way to keep your business on track, as well as manage change during this challenging time. Contact us to speak with an expert about your business challenges today.
By Dale Reeves
UX and Change Management Specialist
A part of the Cloud Collective