With the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly setting us further and further behind economically with each passing day, many businesses are struggling to survive. There is speculation that up to 20% of restaurants in British Columbia could go under before this is all said and done. Additionally, with self-isolation and social distancing measures in effect, most non-essential retail stores and other businesses have closed their doors—some of which will never open again. Employees have been laid off, many are having trouble paying their rent or mortgage and the economic future of BC, Canada, and ultimately the world is riddled with uncertainty.
While many Kelowna business owners are panicked and frantically looking for ways to supplement income and revenue, let’s take a step back and objectively look at 8 ways local businesses can outlast the coronavirus and preserve future operations.
Incorporate E-Commerce Into Your Strategy
If up until now your brick and mortar store only accommodated foot traffic, this could be the perfect time to take your business online. This is especially valuable for retail businesses selling products but service-based businesses can benefit here as well. While many service-based businesses may not be able to operate under normal conditions currently, bringing the business online now can help set up future success down the road (especially if you have more free time on your hands these days).
For product-based businesses that are not already online, this is a great opportunity to set up an e-commerce store. Not only is it 2020 and having a website is a must for any business, but having an e-commerce store opens up an additional revenue stream and allows you to continue to offer products despite the pandemic.
This could be a make-or-break point in sustaining revenue long enough to make it through this whole thing. Plus there’s the added bonus of now having two storefronts (one brick and mortar and one virtual) when the pandemic ends.
Need help setting any of these up? Our team might be able to help. Get in touch.
Focus on the Present
Focusing on the present doesn’t mean putting all your energy and attention to the mass amount of things that are happening right now. The reality is many of these things are out of your control. While they might be competing for your focus because they are significant or otherwise important, truthfully—if it is beyond your control then there’s simply nothing you can do about it. Worrying about a situation you’re powerless in will only serve to bring more unnecessary worry and stress into your life and honestly, we’ve got enough of that right now.
Instead, think about and focus on the things that you can do or can have control over. Sure you might not be able to open your business to the public because of COVID-19 restrictions but what can you do today—right now—that will ultimately be of a benefit to you and your business?
Here are a couple of possibilities:
- What part of your operations has maybe been neglected because of day-to-day priorities? Perhaps this could be a good time to focus on those items still deserving of your attention that have maybe spent longer than we intended on the backburner.
- Consider the resources and tools you currently have at your disposal. How can they be utilized to make something happen today? What about a week or month from now?
- Think of each day as a puzzle piece instead of looking at the whole situation as a big picture. The big picture takes shape and form through the slow and steady collection of smaller pieces. Every day, do your best to contribute that one tiny piece to the bigger picture. By the time this pandemic is over, you may have a much bigger picture than you thought.
Plan for the Future
Taking this time to be strategic and future-thinking will offer tremendous benefits when the coronavirus situation has calmed. While many things may be competing for your attention today, ensuring that you’re putting thought into the future of your business will be essential in having an action plan in place to get back on your feet.
COVID-19 has and will continue to change the world. Any business that reopens their doors after this pandemic has ended will likely notice how many dynamics have shifted. How will you prepare for this shift?
Using research and current data to speculate on your industry, foresee an increase or decrease in demand, the introduction of new additions or concepts, or the collapse of existing infrastructure altogether, are just a few examples of what it means to be future-thinking in these times. Envisioning what the future of your business and industry might look like after all this will be paramount to you preparedness to implement an action plan afterwards.
Cut Out Unnecessary Expenses
If you haven’t already, this is a good time to audit all your recurring business expenses (and personal ones too) and determine whether or not they are entirely necessary. The reality is, every day that you’re not making money, you’re spending money and it all adds up quick. Identifying and eliminating expenses that are not foundational to you or your business will help to save precious dollars.
With that in mind though, it’s important to make peace with the reality that you are going to have to eat some expenses and they may not taste that great. The truth is, there are some expenses you simply can’t get rid of, even if they are providing no immediate value. So do what you can but ensure you’re not cutting out anything that is essential for the survival of your business now and for later.
Be Creative and Innovative
Many entrepreneurs go into business for themselves because they are innovative and creative thinkers who see a problem and are then able to devise solutions. In present times, the future success of your business will be put to the test by these very qualities. I hope you’ve stayed sharp.
Traditional and time-tested strategies and methods of doing things are currently being rendered useless but you can’t let this stop you from driving forward. Now, perhaps more than ever in recent years is the time for innovative thinking and devising creative solutions. Use a future-thinking mentality to brainstorm innovations for your business, your industry, and yourself.
More than likely you’ve encountered plenty of obstacles in the past and come up against barriers that you initially thought were impossible to bypass. But you did overcome such adversity. You found solutions. You took initiative and you were innovative. Present-day is no different. You’ve made it this far and there’s no reason you can’t go further.
Hone Your Knowledge, Skills, and Expertise
Sure you’re good at what you do, that’s why you’re doing it. You’re an expert in your field with experience, educations, and skills to back it up. Guaranteed this was all true at some point but when you truly think about it, when was the last time you cross-referenced your knowledge with the current literature?
Times change, people change, and things change. With the introduction of new ideas, technology, and other innovations, it doesn’t take long to fall out of touch. For any business owner claiming to be an expert in their field, incorrect, inaccurate, or outdated information can damage every single facet of your business.
Staying current is important so if you find yourself with more free time on your hands, consider revisiting your education as a productive use of your time. There’s plenty of free and paid courses online in just about every field you could imagine (Udemy and edX are two platforms that come to mind).
Whether you’re learning something new or brushing up and refining current knowledge, this could be an ideal time to revalidate your expertise and education.
Focus on Virtual Networking
You might not be able to network in person right now but the whole world has never been more connected and active virtually than it is right now. This means there are tons of advantages and improved chances for valuable networking opportunities online today.
With self-isolation and social-distancing measures in place, more people are presently active online. Forums, associations, social media, and other online groups have seen a surge in user activity since the coronavirus began.
This means things like cold outreach could yield a better response rate and digital marketing efforts have an opportunity to hit a wider set of active demographics. Whether you’re looking for new customers, clients, partnerships or more, you may find greater success networking online now than you did just a few months ago.
Last but certainly not least is cultivating a mentality of gratitude. While it might sound cliché or laughable, the reality is that there is always something to be grateful for and things could always be worse.
When we fall on hard times, our mentality often shifts to only focus on everything that is going wrong—everything that is being lost. This way of thinking tends to snowball the longer it goes unchecked until a point is reached in which you’ve become a full-blown pessimist. And like any successful business owner will tell you, this mentality does not bring success. In fact, it brings the opposite.
Maintaining a positive attitude in trying times doesn’t mean living in denial and forgetting about or ignoring your adversities. It simply means making the conscious choice to decide where you want to invest your energy: into problems or into solutions.
Practicing gratitude helps to put things into perspective and truly come to appreciate what you have. Many during this time have lost their homes, their jobs, their livelihoods, and even their loved ones. If you have even just one of these things in your life right now, then you have a reason to be grateful. Not only will directing your focus on this help you to appreciate what you have, but it will also put you in a more positive and capable frame of mind so you can do what you need to in order to get your business through to the other side.