As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, many small Businesses are Struggling to gain clarity on the situation at hand. My business was and is still significantly impacted by the pandemic. I’m like other business owners who are unsure as to what approach to take regarding my marketing efforts and staying relevant to my customers during these times.
On March 23, more than 76% of small businesses were negatively impacted by the health crisis — which has increased by 23% from March 13. I’m sure the numbers have certainly increased by now.
Although my business was deemed essential, and I’d like to remain in business after this is all over, I felt the need to stay sensitive and place all business dealings on hold. I still needed to figure out how my business would survive this and, most importantly, how to stay in business.
I gave myself a bit of time to work on my business in a new and empowering way. Write more, do some work on this website (my baby), and connected with my family.
I can’t lie to you; I felt lost, and I still do in many ways. It’s challenging to promote your services at a time when people are dying, unemployment is increasing daily, and our healthcare workers are overworked trying to care for our sick.
I had to close my doors and send my employees home. It’s an understatement to say I was worried about my business and still am. But I was also finding comfort with respecting others, remaining sensitive and doing nothing for a while. A difficult task, but my personal beliefs are, it is the right thing to do.
Everyone is affected by the Coronavirus pandemic — if not directly, we all know someone close who is, and we have to be respectful to all.
My inboxes are filled with promotional emails from “experts” offering discounts on their so-called masterclasses that will show me how to make money “during this difficult time.” Or the ones who gave me reasons I should hire them as my business coach and sends me three emails a day — thank you, but I’ll pass.
Then there are the Department stores who are bombarding my inboxes with some incredible deals (I’m tempted), but it’s insane to receive three to five emails a day from the same store (unsubscribed). How about the 101 invites to virtual events? The list goes on.
All of those things created such distraction and an atmosphere of fear — these businesses are overly promoting their products and services without caring about how their actions are affecting others.
For smaller businesses, I would like to be understanding. I know there’s no one advising them on the appropriate etiquette (but common sense will do). But larger companies with PR firms and advisors — shame on you. I took one day and unsubscribed from all the distractions, and the companies that caused me to feel like I needed to do what they were doing or my business would fail.
Here’s what I did!
Five tips for business as usual in an unusual time + how to deal with the pesky invitations to virtual events.
1) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate — COMMUNICATION IS PARAMOUNT.
- I created a virtual office – we are already paperless, so this was easier than I thought. Working from home is not just a norm but a necessity at this time. I could not keep most of my staff. But I kept the ones whose responsibilities are flexible enough to work remotely.
- All our employees and independent contractors not currently working are included on our company updates and relevant plans.
- I then created a newsletter to send to my customers and clients, reassuring them that we are still here, and we are taking appropriate actions during this time.
- I made myself personally available for any questions or concerns our customers and clients may have. (Social Media could also be a great resource to get this kind of information out)
2) These are emotionally charged times.
- We MUST remain sensitive in our approach to business and in the content we put out there.
- Demonstrate empathy and compassion as you take any action. If you’re unsure as to whether or not you should post something to social media or add it to your newsletter, then decide not to.
3) Use the downtime productively.
- It’s OKAY to put things on pause and say nothing for a while — instead, use your time wisely. Work on your strategy and plans for the rest of the year and next year (its never too early to plan for the next step in your business).
- Develop new services to offer. Work on policies and procedures that you’ve never had in place. Have a strategy in place for what will happen after this is over.
4) Don’t sell — Be of service.
- Take the time to understand people’s needs and respond with compassion. Pass along correct and appropriate information. And resources that will comfort and help your customers and clients maneuver the times.
- If a customer reaches out to you — do your best to help them or guide them to resources that will help them. They will never forget that you helped. You will gain the loyalty of someone who appreciates you being there.
Many of my customers and clients reached out to me — more than I expected.
5) Identify Challenges and Clarify your options.
- It’s tempting to want to deal with only the right now, but there are long-term challenges that will remain when this is over. Take time to identify them now, be as precise as possible to get to the right solutions.
- Make notes of the pros and cons that will get you to flexible options that will honestly help you in the end.
Whether you’re a full-time business owner or it’s your side-project — it’s essential to navigate the times we are facing. The show must go on — we must move forward. Many of us have been in business for a while, and this is no time to throw in the towel. Instead, it’s time to understand that times are different and sensitive.
We all have a job to do and businesses to run. But it’s essential to be creative and move forward with caution and compassion.
Stick to your routines (mornings and evenings), and if you don’t have established routines — this is the time to create them. Don’t feel pressured to make yourself available to attend every virtual event you’re invited to. You have to put yourself first and use this time wisely. Be polite and thank whomever for the invite — just let them know you’ll pass this time around.
Have a fabulous weekend — I wanted to send you something to ponder this weekend. If you’re doing other things not listed here, I’d love to hear about them. Leave a comment or send an email.
As Always, I’m sending Love — Stay Safe.
Articles like this one are written to offer practical advice, provide some entertainment, foster a sense of social cohesion, and remind us that life is still beautiful during these strange and isolating times.