how to keep your business afloat in the midst of covid 19
In the wake of COVID and the most recent outbreak, small businesses are being left to figure out how they can stay afloat.
Much of Australia are experiencing lockdown-like conditions without the economic support we received during lockdowns.
The COVID virus has been a major problem for companies all over the world. It’s important, though, that you don’t let COVID scare you into giving up your business altogether.
With proper planning we can and will come out of this
Look at the Big Picture
The first step is to take a look at the big picture. What are the conditions of your industry and how will COVID specifically impact it? You’ll also want to research what similar companies have done in order to stay afloat.
Looking at exactly how your business or service will be impacted is crucial in order to asses what you need to do next. Every industry will feel the impacts of less foot-traffic, more conservative spending habits, a shift to online shopping and a variety of other behavioural changes differently.
While it may be tempting to take a day by day approach, taking a step back to assess the overall situation is critical so you can adequately prepare and not be caught out should, worst case scenario, your “bad days” become your worst days.
Evaluate Your Finances
Secondly, take a look at your finances. How much money do you have saved up and what are your current debts? This might seem like a daunting task but it’s important that you know where you currently stand.
Take a good look at where your money is coming from, where it’s going and what you could realistically cut down on – even temporarily. This might include reviewing contracts, renegotiating supplier terms or reducing inventory levels.
Look at ways to increase revenue streams such as upselling or package deals. If sales are down but still consistent, see if there are opportunities to bundle products or services together to upsell customers (eg gym membership + personal training sessions).
You should also research government grants or funding that may be available for small businesses during COVID. While there’s less support than we’ve seen in other years, there are still resources that are available.
Have a look at the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training’s support options.
Take A Critical Look at What You Can Cut Temporarily
It’s an unfortunate reality that less foot traffic for many retail and hospitality expenses mean reduced hours for staff.
To ease strain on your team members that may have been stood-down or have reduced hours during this time you can direct them to this Australian Government resource.
Alternatively, you may look at shortening the work-week or moving employees to part-time. Even one less day on the roster might mean saving a fifth in labour costs – just keep in mind not all staff may be able to maintain these reduced hours.
Freebies / Extras / Specials
2-For-1 deals, burger and drink specials, free upgrades are a common tactic to draw in crowds on your quieter days. However, with quiet days even quieter amidst a pandemic offering heavily discounted options is not a money-maker right now.
“Stopping marketing to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” A great, albeit bias, quote. However, even as a marketing agency we do have to say there are areas in your marketing budget that can be reduced.
If you are working with an agency, discuss options about what you can reduce. For example, now might not be the time to push “free trials” for gyms, or be heavily geo-targeting inner-city office workers.
Do we think you should stop marketing entirely? Absolutely not. But should you take a critical look at where your marketing efforts and funds are being directed?
Pivot to New Offers
This may not always be possible but there are some options that may work for your business when foot traffic is down.
You could look at developing new offers that cater to the current market. This may be a time where home-delivery options for restaurants increase, or more people look into online courses and experiences rather than in-person (just as long as we don’t see any more Friday knock-off Zoom drinks – those were dark times).
It’s important to think outside the box and brainstorm what other services or products you could offer that would coincide with COVID. Maybe it’s a gift card, or a home-care package.
If you’re a bar you could offer ‘make your own’ home cocktail packages. Personal trainers may be able to offer home workout programs. Cafes can push their home brewing kits.
Remember, KISS: keep it simple stupid. Any alternative offer should be simple and straightforward. People might be willing to whip up their own cocktail at home, but not if they have to go out and buy a full bartenders kit, or buy their own XYZ ingredients. Whatever you devise should be simple for you to put together, and for your customers to enjoy.
Stay On Top of Rules and Regulations
As regulations change on a daily basis it’s important that your business is up to date and compliant. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and can lead to hefty fines – which no small business can afford right now.
Keep track of changes made by Fair Work, ATO, ASIC & ACCC as they all have outlined different things businesses must do to be compliant.
Use This Time to Upskill
It might feel like dark times at the moment, but you aren’t alone and it isn’t forever.
There will be a light at the end of the tunnel and this time can be an opportunity to focus on the skills and areas in your business that you feel might be lacking. This could be upskilling in social media, developing a marketing plan, looking at your branding or anything else that will be of value to you throughout the rest of 2022.
Remember, we’re always here to help if you get stuck on where to take your business next.
We’ll leave you with an Arnie quote.
“Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger