The coronavirus pandemic is the biggest news story in the world right now. In this time of crisis, when we live in an interconnected global economy, keeping calm can be difficult. But as a small business owner or CEO of a startup, there are things you can do to gain some control over the situation. From using AI for your bookkeeping needs to improving internal communication, there are many ways to maintain peace within your company and keep the business running.
The number of cases of COVID-19 (a.k.a. coronavirus) has surpassed that of the SARS outbreak that hit Canada 17 years ago. There have been 1,430 confirmed cases across all 10 provinces (and one in the Northwest Territories), with 425 in Ontario alone as of this writing. With government-mandated social distancing and people being quarantined, things can look bad for small businesses since foot traffic has dropped significantly.
According to recent data provided by the NFIB Research Centre, almost one-quarter of small business owners have reported that coronavirus has negatively impacted them. That means slower sales (42%), supply chain disruptions (39%) and sick employees (4%).
So, what can you as an entrepreneur do to prevent your business from shutting down?
As a business owner, it’s natural to worry about how deep and long-lasting the impact of COVID-19 will be on your business. Therefore, you need to find ways to keep your customers and employees engaged, even from a distance, during the lockdown.
With the situation escalating rapidly and the future unpredictable, you may find customers empathizing with you if you communicate properly. Let them know if you’re keeping your office closed, changing your working hours or whatever steps you’re considering to keep the work environment and your employees safe. With consumers increasingly panicked about COVID-19, take up some strategies to stay connected to them.
So, how do you communicate to your customers that your business is doing everything it can to prevent spreading COVID-19?
There are a few ways. You can do this through emails or post in-store signage to indicate that you’re doing everything possible to protect their health when they visit. Also, communicate about changed business hours, enforced employee self-quarantine and whether any extra hygiene protocols are being followed.
Your customers are likely on social media and are going to check more frequently for updates on the virus. Whether you’re spreading awareness about the virus or offering some light, positive content to take their minds off the panic, it’s a good idea to post more frequently. The more your content shows up in their news feeds, the better.
Retail businesses that have an e-commerce store too, can encourage their customers to stay indoors and shop online. You can attract online buyers by announcing various limited time offers.
For service-based businesses, such as restaurants or salons, offering online sales or gift certificates is a good idea. If your customers buy a certificate now, they can treat themselves or their loved ones and redeem when it’s safe to do so. This way, you can keep up sales while providing something fun and exciting for customers.
Your sales team should also use a few key strategies to ensure better sales pipeline management. From stocking up on new business leads to trying new and creative sales presentations, here are a few ideas to get you started:
Similar to stocking up at home in case of quarantine, you also need to “stock up” on sales prospects. If needed, put extra effort, time and resources into generating leads, even if you’re busy enough at present. There’s a chance the outbreak could have more severe economic impacts, even if you’re not in an industry directly impacted by the virus yet. Even if coronavirus turns out to be a short-term problem, your business will have a better number of prospective clients in the long run.
The coronavirus is forcing businesses to cut back on travel and in-person meetings, with web-based presentations becoming more important. Transforming your sales pitch into a fully virtual presentation is going to be beneficial. Focus more on pitching over the web instead of on-site meetings and be prepared to get creative.
For businesses that offer B2B solutions, it’s important to understand the significant pain points and concerns about the virus among your prospects. Rethink the key benefits of your products and services and figure out how they can be relevant to coronavirus concerns. You can use this idea as a relevant sales pitch to your B2B solutions in this time of crisis. For instance, many companies are focusing on working remotely and are encouraging their employees to work from home. Are you an accounting firm offering bookkeeping services? Then using accounting software and cloud-based services can help your clients better deal with the coronavirus outbreak and keep their office running with employees working remotely.
This is a crisis moment, no doubt, but it’s not the end of the world. For now, simply focus on maintaining your financial transactions through online bookkeeping and use web-based applications and cloud computing to communicate with your clients. Also, take advantage of social media and be creative in your approach to customers. The bad times don’t last, and once this is over, you will still be running your business as always.
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