This is part 3 of 5 in a series of posts of opportunities available to you and building a better world for yourself by surviving (or thriving) during a recession and a pandemic.
The rules have changed – you need to get used to the new rules as soon as possible.
The rules of business have changed. So have the laws of the land. The question is … what are you gonna do?
- Bitch and moan about it
- Do nothing
- Wait until everyone comes back to play by the old rules
- Start learning to play by the new rules as quickly as possible
I know what my choice is and it ain’t the first three.
If you want your business to do okay (better?), you have to play with and within the rules that apply to you now, and into the new future.
Normally the rules don’t change. And if they did change you had time to change with them. Not this time. This time the change is short and sharp.
People are afraid, so they reduce or stop spending. That’s bad news for businesses and governments. Not only that, people are now ‘locked’ in their own homes – even less spending.
As this thing bites, people will start valuing every dollar they have differently – it could be the difference between keeping their home, putting food on the table, or just getting by.
So if you want to stay in business you have to change too.
You still have to make sure you are offering something someone wants, for a price they’re willing to pay, for more than it costs you to do it.
And you have to do this taking into account the laws of the land – and I’m talking about quarantine specifically here. For the foreseeable future, we’re going to be in quarantine – most likely in and out of quarantine as the Government attempts to control infection rates without overloading the health system.
Are you still relevant to your customers? Is there anything you can do to remain relevant to your customers? How do you make sure you stay relevant to your customers? Are you still offering something they want? Does what you offer still solve a problem your customer has? Are there new customers you could help you hadn’t thought of before?
Do the benefits of what you offer still outweigh the cost to your customer? Is what you offer still valuable to your customer? If not, is there anything you can do to make it valuable to your customer? Do you have your equivalent of McDonald’s “would you like fries with that?” small ticket items you can easily add to any sale to increase total value to your customer as well as your profit?
Is what you get from your customer more than what it costs you to do what you do? Do you need to sell more? Do you need to reduce costs? Do you need to get rid of excess stock/machinery/plant? Do you need to find new plant/tools? What labor do you really need? How do you help your team change along with your business?
How do you reach your customers? Don’t forget people are likely to be isolated/quarantined – either sick or staying away from others who are sick. If your customer can’t come to you physically anymore, can you come to them instead (online perhaps)? What can you offer virtually or via distance? Are there new ways you can deliver what you offer?
If your business has relied on in-person services, products or events, consider diversifying and creating online-based offerings. If you’ve relied on in-person networking to grow your business, consider growing your online marketing reach. If you’ve started developing your online business, consider kicking it up to the next level.
Don’t worry about what you used to do. You have to think about what is important right now and into the future if you want customers to purchase from you. Now is not the time to say “we’ve always done it this way”. It didn’t work for Blockbuster when Netflix arrived. It didn’t work for many candle makers when the light bulb and electricity arrived.
It’s time to rethink what you do, who you offer to. What’s key here is what’s important to your customer … AND … what you can do! Look for ways to give your customers what they want/need while helping you earn a profit. Maybe you can change your business to provide sanitisers, masks, gowns, goggles (all in high demand)? If Good George (a brewery) can change from offering gin to offering hand sanitiser, then what can you do?
Planning opportunity: remaining relevant to your customers, offering something of value your customers are prepared to pay for; making a profit by keeping costs under income
Change credit terms with your customers
It’s sad but true that some of your customers will be faced with a decision to pay you or put food on their tables. I know I don’t want to be the business owner who releases the debt collectors to chase up money I’m owed when people are starving. Tough decision!
So you need to reduce the chances of having to make those tough choices – change your payment terms and seek payment upfront either in full or with a deposit before you start anything. Work out how much your business income can drop before it’s at risk of failing – maybe you can survive a 50% hit in income? Then ask for 50% upfront so it won’t hurt too much if your customer is unable to pay the balance later (don’t give that away though just because you can afford to – you’re a business, not a charity).
Planning opportunity: avoid being the bank for your customers
Stop spending money on marketing/advertising (and invest instead!)
Get your message to your customers nailed and keep advertising/marketing. In times like this, most businesses cut costs and advertising/marketing is one of the costs that are first to go. I believe that’s because most businesses throw money at advertising/marketing because they think it’s something they have to do when running a business. Those businesses usually don’t have a clear customer in mind (anyone is their customer) or offer. As competitors cut their advertising/marketing, they leave more market share available for others. If your message is on point for your customers, then you’ll have more customers coming to you.
Planning opportunity: know your customer better than your competitors and keep talking with them