The COVID-19 pandemic quickly and drastically changed how many businesses operate.
Now, after three long months, many are ready to re-open or have started to do so.
What are some things you can do to prepare your business for re-opening? If you’re already open, how can you optimize business in the new normal? And how can you plan for business sustainability into the future?
Preparing your business to relaunch
- Multitudes of small businesses have had to pivot to online sales over the last few months to continue to generate revenue. If the thought of creating a website, an ecommerce platform, a PayPal account, etc. feels a little overwhelming (when you’re already a little anxious), try some of these turnkey solutions to find opportunities in the digital commerce space.
Shopify is a platform that can help you create an ecommerce website backed by powerful tools that help you find customers, drive sales, and manage your day-to-day. You can check out their How To Move Your Brick-and-Mortar Online guide here. You can also check out Forbes Magazine’s tips, resources and inspiration for pivoting your small business online here.
- Also consider other DIY website building platforms like Weebly, Vistaprint, Square, Wix, or WordPress. There are varying price points and different levels of technical expertise are required, but they’re also really customizable – and it can be quite fun to build your own site!
- Salesforce offers tools to help you connect all your sales channels, create more engaging marketing, and to support your online customers. They are also currently partnering with the Canadian Business Resilience Network to offer relief grants to Canada’s struggling small business.
- How are your target customers shopping and what are they shopping for? Explore what the customer experience currently looks like in your sector since purchasing patterns and trends have shifted over the last several months. In addition to examining what tangible products/services your customers are looking for, you’ll need to weave in intangibles like the ‘cost of confidence’. These trust building investments – cleanliness, timeliness or ethical sourcing – provide reassurance around the things that customers are concerned about right now – and they could be the key to boosting business sales in the first few quarters after re-opening.
Using CEDEC’s Lead Generation Toolkit*, you’ll be able to determine where demand for a particular service/product might surge or, based on the ‘new normal’, discover where there are opportunities to expand your core service/product offering. For example, the toolkit will help you map out the most attractive customer segments and niches and identify how and where to generate leads. You can drill down even further by creating customer personas to help you better address customer needs (thus increasing chances of a sale). You can also use the customization ideation chart to help you figure how to adapt products/services for new customer segments (and how to communicate your offer to these new segments).
- Don’t forget about your employees’ relational needs (connection and belonging), mental needs (tools and resources to build psychological resilience), and physical needs (so they can feel secure and safe). It’s been a peculiar and difficult time for most and a return to work will require not only a safe physical space, but a mental one as well.
Preparing your business for the future
- Given that things will certainly not be back to normal any time soon, businesses will need to remain alert and nimble for the foreseeable future. This means identifying vulnerabilities (e.g. supply chain disruptions) and how you will deal with them based not only on lessons learned during the current pandemic, but by proactively developing contingency plans should something similar occur in the future. Businesses should also learn how to mitigate risk and manage a crisis when it occurs. CEDEC’s Crisis Management Toolkit* helps business owners figure out how to manage cash flow during times of low liquidity; how to reduce expenses; how to identify potential consequences of a crisis on business opportunities as well as possible solutions; and maps out your personal Rescue Team to ensure that your business can weather the storm.
- A good practice to help ensure the sustainability of your business is to build up resiliency measures and draft business continuity plans into your business model from the start. They should be updated periodically as the company grows or ages. Risk mitigation plans, operational pivot plans, emergency/contingency plans, crisis management plans, disaster recovery plans – whatever you call them, you need to examine all the ‘what ifs’ for your particular situation and then figure out how your business will continue to operate during a crisis and for quite some time after as well.
- We should teach ourselves adaptability. Personally, this means we can push ourselves to be nimbler, keep an open mind, not judge ourselves for changing our mind, and accepting that maybe we were wrong. Practice getting out of your comfort zone during low stake situations. This ‘stretch zone’ is where learning and growth happens.
Professionally, we can become more adaptable by implementing a Living Business Model. Living businesses are connected, resilient, adaptive, collaborative, experimental, iterative, and experimental. Following these principles allows them to be regenerative, responsive, and optimized.
Re-opening your business after a large-scale, pandemic-induced economic shutdown may involve several challenges; some similar to those when you initially launched your business, but many others will be different.
CEDEC’s free [Re]launch & Grow Toolkit can help you recapture your customer base by identifying pockets of profitable growth, optimizing your marketing mix, and mapping out a phased recovery plan to strengthen your business’s ability to anticipate and meet demand in an uncertain environment.
Returning to ‘normal’ will take some time and involve a lot of adjustments. But if there’s one thing business owners are good at it’s using their entrepreneurial skills to meet challenges head on.
*Ask our GrowthWheel® certified business advisors about these toolkits during your initial consultation.