Business is slow right now. And on top of that, we don't know how long this will last. But remember two things:
1. None of this is your fault - you haven't failed as a Business Owner. This has been out of your control.
2. And you are not alone. At all. EVERYONE is going through this - personally and professionally.
So, let's use this as an opportunity to focus on what we CAN control, for our personal and business health.
You know I love a good list, so let's come up with all of the things you can do over the next few weeks, to make these circumstances work in your favour.
What's the point?
This list is to get you focused and motivated on your business, stay in touch with your current clients, keep your business name out there, grow your connection network and create a business strategy to bounce back with.
Here are 20 example tasks to get your list started ...
1. Market your business - you may not think this is worth it right now, but you have an opportunity here - create new business leads, keep you name out there, let people know what you do, how you can help and that you are still ready for business.
You won't be paid for putting effort into marketing your business but it will pay off in the long run.
2. Maintain current client relationships - you know your clients best, so how can you help them get through this? Come up with special offers or useful tailored advice - then contact each one personally, reminding them you are still here to give support.
3. Ramp up your social media - social media is FREE advertising, so there couldn't get a better time to use it:
Use eye-catching images from stock photography sites
Create interesting and useful content to show-case your expertise
Use appropriate hashtags for each platform, so people can find your post
Avoid sales specific posts and aim for supportive info, to be positive and helpful
Develop your Facebook business page
4. Explore new social media platforms - as I said, social media is free, so try something new - look at platforms you haven't used before and find out how they may work for you. Check out the accounts of other businesses like yours, to see what they post.
Start podcasting or create a You Tube channel - get all of your advice, skills and experience out there. If you don't know what to say, start reading out your blogs or film a practical demo of a skill.
5. Create website - if you've been 'meaning to do one' now is the time. There are plenty of companies that offer free templates for you to get started and you only publish for the world to see once you are happy with it. Go crazy and play about - design a logo, write the content, choose the imagery and tick it off of your To Do list.
6. Refresh you current website - review your content - does it work with what your business offers? Replace the imagery - are your images professional and exciting? Update your services - make sure your website mirrors what your business offers today. Add some funky new functionality and just give it some pzazz.
7. Blog with something to say - if you don't really use your blog or don't have one at all, time to change all that. As well as helping drive traffic to your website, blogs will shine a light on your industry expertise, skills, knowledge and experience. You can provide your audience with advice, tips and useful materials (such as recommendations / how you would do something / what your top 5 things are / provide checklists and templates, etc). You can then re-purpose this material into smaller social media posts to reach a wider audience.
Get a few posts in the bank, whilst you have the time and don't feel like you are giving away industry secrets and therefore people will no longer need to hire you - if you gave someone a fillet of beef and some puff pastry, they will still need your help to make the Beef Wellington.
8. Case study your best example - think of a work situation that shows off your skills and put it into a case study. Explain the scenario, what the challenge was, how you overcame it and what the outcome was and why they couldn't have got through it without you. Quantify how your service helped your client going forward.. This will demonstrate to potential clients how you work with others and that you know your stuff.
9. Newsletter - once you've thought of a plan to help your current clients at this time and you have some awesome blog content, why not crop and edit this into personalised newsletters and email them out to your mailing list. Also update them on any changes you have recently made to your business (website, services, new blog they should subscribe to or social media accounts that they should follow you on), include snippets of case studies, or advice, or promotions you are running. Be supportive with your info and make them feel cherished.
10. Promotional campaign - develop new offers and discounts on your service for new and existing clients to get them through this down time. Remember to state that your offer is for a set period and once that period is over the prices will resume to normal etc .. don't mug yourself off either - you know your business best, so come up with a deal that is too good to miss but won't leave you out of pocket. Using an email marketing tool and social media to promote your campaign is easy and all free.
11. Pimp up your Linked In profile - Linked in has 500+ million members, so as a Business Owner you can build and engage your professional network, You also have access to professional knowledge, support and opportunities. But more importantly showcase yourself to others, so make your profile a good'un:
Is your profile pic a professional one? (i.e not a selfie in the bogs)
Have you added a background image?
Make your headline title a catchy one, not just your job title
The summary section is where you tell your target audience all the good stuff about you. Use the first person and give people a chance to get to know you. List your work knowledge, attributes, key skills, unique qualifications and the industries you’ve worked in. List your achievements and quantify them in numbers or links to case studies Avoid buzzwords and keep it genuine.
Customise your URL linkedin.com/yourname
Spread the love and ask for recommendations and endorse other people
12. Design fancy marketing materials - have some fun and refresh your business cards, flyers, brochures, logo, etc. There are free online design tools that you can use to help you do this. Keep in mind to make all of your designs unified and recognisable from the same business. You don't have to print them if you don't have the budget right now but get them ready while you have the time to spare.
13. Network online - if you hate going to networking events or never have the time to network - GREAT! Now is your time to shine. Networking online is hot right now. Get on Linked In and social media to make those new connections. Join support groups of like minded business peeps, fish out people that interest you and comment on their content. Find businesses in your local area and ping them an email to say "Hi, how are you doing at a time like this? Need any help, advice or support?" And likewise, make them know they are needed - ask them for advice on how they are getting their business through this.
14. Facebook groups - join Facebook groups for support, try and find business networks in your local area for support at home and industry-based groups for support with your specific business. You can be candid as you like on these groups and ask questions without feeling like an idiot. And when you are confident enough, you can post some brilliant information that could make someone's day.
15. Do a market survey - do you have an idea you want to bounce around? Or a question about your business that you want answered? Now is the time to engage with other professionals and potential clients to get a broad opinion. What do they actually think, want, and feel outside of your assumptions? Get some honest critical feedback and get people talking about your business.
16. Collect testimonials - how do your current clients feel about your business and service? Ask them. Be open to honest feedback and be prepared to take any negative comments under advisement - perhaps there is room for improvement. Otherwise use all positive remarks on your website and anywhere else you display your reviews.
17. Review you business - this is a great time to look at your business - does it still work well or does anything need improving? Consider the long term effects of the current situation and will anything need adapting for the future:
Your business model / plan / strategy / goals
Your processes and procedures and workflow
Your automation and time management
18. Personal Development - if you have the extra time to branch out, now is the time to sign up for an online course and learn a new skill. Right now, there are plenty of great deals and even free courses available.
19. Do the boring stuff - there's no excuse now, so get up to date with:
20. Get ready for your comeback - What will be your opening gambit? What services of yours will people need when it's business as usual? How can you tailor a special offer to suit and entice your ideal client? Perhaps launch a new service or unveil your shiny new website? Remember to promote the positives of your business and how you can genuinely help - definitely avoid the 'BUY ME NOW' approach.
I'm not going to patronise you here. I just want to let you know that there's also nothing wrong with using this as time off. Focus positive energy on your business but don't obsesses over it. You still need a work vs life balance, so enjoy the slower pace and create a list of things you will do to keep sane at home, such as:
Stay connected with friends and family
Cook from scratch
Do that DIY and Gardening
Indulge in your hobby or take one up
Get a tan (fingers crossed!)
TV binge and lay in (because why not!)
Call to Action
Now decide how you will execute these business and personal tasks:
Do you like routine and structure? Plan your week in advance, each day in hourly segments, so you know exactly what you are supposed to be doing. You can use an excel spreadsheet, bit of paper or email diary - whatever works for you.
Or do you like to take each day as it comes and work to your own mood? Then this is an opportunity to wake up each day and choose what you would like to do from your lists and when you will do it. This is my preferred method of working.
Free Marketing Design tool - Canva
Case Study examples - Information
Free Email Marketing tool - Mail Chimp
Free Email Survey tool - Survey Monkey
Gov Guidance - Social Distancing
Gov Guidance - Stay at Home
NHS 111 - About Covid-19