Getting Through It

Some lucky businesses will be little-affected, some may even thrive. Others might muddle through, or sadly put out of business entirely.

There are a few important things to remember.

  1. This is happening – you can’t change that. Burying your head in the sand, pretending everything is fine, is simply not going to work.
  2. “We’ve always done it this way” isn’t going to cut it. Unless your business can genuinely continue as normal, you are going to have to make changes. Accept that now.
  3. You might have to fundamentally change your business strategy in the short-term, even if some of these actions seem contrary to your long-term goals. An obvious example is a restaurant: a shift to takeaway, or even online cooking classes, or recipe advice may not be part of the plan, but it might just see you through the next few months.

Show who you are

Already, the Coronavirus situation is showing people’s – and businesses’ true colours. The way larger firms treat their staff is leading to national publicity. Some are going above and beyond, others are falling far, far short of even the basic levels of human decency.

Whatever you do, remember real people are involved. Behave with compassion, care and consideration. Even if you have to give out bad news, do it with a thought to the person receiving it. Now more than ever you should remember you are always, always, communicating with a single indivual. No ‘company’ ever reads an email, it’s always one person.

Do the right thing. Not just because it’s good for PR, but because it’s the right thing do to.

Make plans

I’ll be expanding this page with more specific advice for different kinds of business / situation. But for now, step back and do a walkthrough of your business and its customers.

What do you sell?

What do you really sell?

And how can you deliver it in a different way?

Restaurants become takeaways. Gyms offer fitness advice.

How have your customers’ needs changed?

For most businesses, customers are now immobile. That means delivering goods and services either directly to their door, or delivering them digitally.

Make changes

The bigger your business, the harder it will be to make significant changes. You may find you need to operate a skeleton staff, which should hopefully be possible with the new government support. Read as much as you can about this.

Use existing technology

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Now is not the time for bells and whistles; it’s time to deliver. Fast.

I’ll be adding links to the Tools & Practical Help page which will help you take payments, set-up a mailing list, conduct meetings online – even ways to quickly build temporary websites if you need.

Be decisive

Make a decision, then take decisive action. Do not worry about every pixel being perfect, or whether a semicolon would be better than a comma.

Talk to your customers

You have a rare opportunity: people are mostly sympathetic towards businesses which are demonstrably trying their best.

Ask them what they need, what they want. Phone, email, post on social media. Get feedback and then respond to it.

You won’t be able to please everyone, inevitably, but you should be able to gather some kind of consensus of opinion.

Find new customers

People are crying out for information and advice. If you can provide genuine, useful advice, or practical services, you might end up with a new loyal customer.

Think short-term

This is not really time a time for thinking about long-tail SEO strategies. It’s a time to get information out in the most efficient way possible. That might be email, social media, on your website. I’ve even advised a couple of people to just use the ‘BCC’ option to send an email to (relatively small) groups of customers. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t personalised, it mattered that it was delivered promptly.

React

This is an ever-changing situation. Even as I’ve put this site together we’ve gone from ‘please don’t go out’ to ‘the pubs are closed’ to ‘you’re on lockdown’.

This is another reason to keep things fluid and simple. You may need to be able to announce changes to people quickly.