Are you still open for business and are you freaking out right now? Not sure how much longer you can operate? The COVID-19 crisis is causing so much devastation it is hard to know where to look to find hope. There is no escaping the pain we are feeling as business owners. It is frightening to watch and listen to all those who have been forced to close.
Will your business survive?
For some this will mean the end of their business, they won’t survive. For others, it may be a slow death, not knowing when it will come, causing a great deal of anxiety and taking a toll on mental and physical health. I wish I could give you some guarantees, but I am a business coach, not a fortune-teller. What I can do is help you focus on taking some position action.
I remember back to my training in recruit school. In the Defence Force, we are very cleverly thrown together and have to quickly work out that nothing will be achieved by a single person. It takes all of us working together.
Getting up at 5 am to do a 5km run on a chilly Melbourne morning might make you want to pull the bed covers up over your head, but putting people in uncomfortable situations builds character. An old saying is that it sorts out the wheat from the chaff.
As my class falls in before heading out to run, we are quiet. We wait to get going because standing around in the cold makes your joints start to ache. It is dark but I can still see my breath billow out in front of me as warm air touches the cold.
On occasion, we were made to run as a squad. That means staying in formation. It teaches you that you are only as strong as your weakest person, and that encouragement and support always leads to a better outcome than ridicule and shame. I knew I wasn’t the best distance runner in my class. I was good at the 100m sprint, but distance running is different. It needs a different mindset.
What got me though was the men and women surrounding me, telling me I could do it, asking me how I was going, telling me not to give up. My muscles ached, my breathing was short, but I was smiling. I knew I wasn’t alone. This has served me well for my whole life and a philosophy I bring to the way I coach my clients.
Do not to give up. Keep putting one foot in front of the other consistently, like me running, knowing it is the only way to reach the finish line. I am telling you not to pull the covers over your head but to take action! There is an end to what we are experiencing. So pour yourself a coffee and get let’s started.
Six actionable steps you can take right now!
I will to support and encourage you to make it to the finish line, so I’d like to share six things that you can do right now to keep moving towards that line and feel good about your business on the other side of it.
The formula for success is the same for every business –
Money must come in to the business faster than it goes out.
Yes it is that simple and yet it is very hard to do, especially when you are starting out or growing or factors outside your control force your to operate differently.
1. Review your cash flow forecast
If you don’t have a cash flow forecast, now is the time to do one. A cash flow forecast is a timeline that plots the money coming in and going out of your business. This will enable you to see at what point you may start to fall short.
Don’t be downhearted about this. It means you can design an action plan!
You know what time frame you have to work with and the depth of the shortfall you will have. Does that mean extending your credit card, getting an overdraft, contributing capital? There are a number of solutions that you can consider and they are best discussed with your accountant. So –
2. Make an appointment with your accountant
Do this now. There are a number of government incentives available to business and knowing what this means for your business is vital. If you are eligible for assistance this funding can be included in your cash flow forecast and may shine a different light on your business outlook.
3. Offer a discount or add value
Making the decision to discount will depend on your circumstances and what is right for your brand and your business. Ideally discounting is not encouraged, value adding is.
However, these are unusual times so this has to be considered carefully. If it is right for your business because you may need to move perishable stock – for example – then ensure that the nature of the discount is clearly communicated. Make sure it is understood that the discount is temporary, you don’t want your customer to be in the habit of only buying when you discount.
4. Manage your bills
Once you have reviewed your cash flow forecast, you may need to contact your suppliers to negotiate terms. The key here is communication. You may also need to make the decision to cancel some extraneous services temporarily. A review of your expenditure is always prudent, but it is particularly important now.
Many businesses are now being forced to look at their current business model. The way you do business may no longer work and you will need to look at how you can innovate to retain your customers – and even find new ones. Just as you are reviewing your expenses, your customers may be doing the same.
In order to retain customers, you will need to get creative in how you deliver your product or service. The problem your target market had may no longer be relevant and your business offering might need to address a whole new problem in a whole new way. This could involve educating customers in how a new delivery method will still effectively solve their problems and do so much more. The solution remains just as effective even though the problem has changed – that is the message you need to communicate.
Have you noticed the key to all of these steps so far? Yes, it is communication!
Having important conversations, no matter how difficult they may be, is imperative to enabling the continuation of cash flow, your supply chain and accessing funding.
If you have to pivot your business model it may involve changing your products or services. This offers the opportunity to enter new markets. In entering new markets you may need to redefine your ideal client. This is an important step. If it is missed you will more than likely remain invisible to these new people.
Get clear on the message you are sending, how your brand voice is being heard and how you want to talk to your customer base.
You never know where you will find inspiration or ideas.
I chaired a meeting recently that inspired me. I sat with a small business team and worked with them to open up their minds to potential business alternatives. It was encouraging to watch every employee light up with hope that there could be a future for the business. It was heartwarming to provide a space for people to speak and be a part of a solution.
Will you do that for the people that surround you? It could be employees, friends or family.
Follow each of these steps and formulate a plan of action to see you through this time. There is an end, a finish line of sorts, and you need to make sure you see it. Whilst some parts of your business may need to be reviewed, it is important now more than ever to take full advantage of the professionals that are here to help you.
Keeping your business alive doesn’t have to be a race you run alone.
If you’re not sure where to start or you need help taking action on any of these steps, please book a FREE 30 minute strategy session with me and I’ll help to make it easier for you to make what may be some very difficult decisions. You don’t need to do this alone.
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