Tip 1: Get Social With Your Customers
Working from home is isolating, but social media can be an outlet for the human connection we all crave. Turn quarantine into an opportunity by strengthening your customer relationships.
- Live Videos - Hosting webinars, or streaming live video on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn is a simple yet effective way to humanize your brand and connect with customers. Don’t get hung up on overly-engineering a live video. They tend to work better when they are authentic and off-the-cuff.
Live video gives your customers a chance to resonate with your brand, so relax and be yourself. Answer common customer questions, inform viewers with educational content, or simply use the video platform to share how your business has adapted to social-distancing challenges.
- Social Media Giveaways - If you have cash to spend, consider running a social media giveaway or contest to build an audience and excite your customers. What do they truly need or want right now as they grind through lockdown? Get creative! Maybe a laptop kit will help them work from home, or a grocery voucher will lessen their financial burden. Highlight a new service by making it a giveaway. More people at home means more people on social media, so use these platforms to expand your reach and increase customer engagement.
Tip 2: Double Down On Your Surviving Revenue Streams
You’ve expanded your social presence, so now you need to get creative with how you maintain cash flow. Maybe you’ve always rode one main revenue stream. Consider alternative ways to generate revenue from your core business.
- Think Outside the Shop - How can you re-think your business model? If you rely on in-person transactions, take the cash flow outside the shop. A cafe, for example, can generate revenue from takeaway orders or sales of goods like mugs or tastefully packed raw ingredients.
- Create a Web Store - Take this lockdown time to explore an online revenue stream. The key to remote selling is setting up a basic functioning web store. There are many turn-key sites available online such as Wix or Shopify. Keep your customers in the loop through email and social media to announce when your web store is up and running.
Tip 3: Look For New Service Opportunities
Besides your existing lines of revenue, it’s time to get imaginative. Are there any new ways you could interact with your customers to deliver them value during these tough times?
- Virtual Service - Consider offering a virtual version of the service you already provide. Gyms, for instance, are renting out equipment and offering online classes. Bike shops are doing virtual consultations and drop-ship sales that lean heavily on expertise versus floor displays.
- Subscription Service - Remaking your business into a subscription service is a way to temporarily survive this crisis. A florist might set up a flower of the week delivery service or a restaurant could offer family-style Sunday meals for loyal diners. Customers will appreciate your creativity, and many will welcome the weekly or even monthly ritual during shelter-in-place.
Tip 4: Keep the Team Connected and Engaged
Disrupting your work routine actually opens up opportunities to connect differently. Even with recent growth in remote working, most businesses need to adapt to an entire team working from home in isolation. You’ll need to show leadership to keep your employees connected and interacting.
- Video Chat - One-on-one chats allow you to gather new perspectives and check in on your individual team members. Use chat tools such as Slack or Hangouts to bounce ideas around and keep each other sane. Larger groups can use video conference tools like Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts.
- Lighten the Mood - Aside from standard work apps, you can set up fun, interactive opportunities for your team. House Party is an app that allows small group face-to-face connection. You receive alerts when friends are “in the house” so you can jump right into the group conversation. No matter the software you choose, encourage your team to get social. Small daily habits of team interaction can significantly benefit mental health and productivity.
Tip 5: There’s No Shame In Taking the Money
When available, say yes to help. The U.S. government stimulus package is enormous and even though the initial round ran out, there is more on the way. This money may not sustain your business for long, but it could be an important injection to ride out what certainly will be a slow recovery.
Beware of spending any infusion of cash too easily though. Use emergency funds to keep your staff happy and employed. Then start pursuing new opportunities to tackle the slowdown ahead.
With a little creativity and a lot of hard work, your small business can survive this crisis.