Well, they don’t call it Mad March for nothing, and this one in particular has proven the most challenging yet for many of our members and followers. My heart goes out to those who have had to close businesses – temporarily or otherwise; those who’ve had to face the distressing challenge of letting staff go and anyone whose household has been directly impacted by job losses and layoffs. Although I can’t fix the COVID-19 pandemic, I can assure you with confidence that this is TEMPORARY and we will get through this.
Members held a very fruitful thinktank earlier in the month to provide a strategic approach for the trouble ahead.
Among the tips given were:
- Work on your business: Take this time to do the business tasks you’ve always meant to do such as a business plan, writing your social media, looking at alternatives and innovations and seeking out potential collaborations (albeit remotely, or at least 1.5m from each other).
- Don’t say it’s over: It’s a concern that many businesses are using the term “closed permanently”, rather than “closed temporarily”. Most of us have spent blood, sweat and tears building up brands, don’t throw them away in an emotional reaction. There may be options to rebuild and reopen once the pandemic passes, but using definitive terms like “permanently closed” will make it hard to rebuild if your mindset and conditions change in the future. You may also be shutting the door on opportunities to be “open” in other ways such as offering gift certificates.
- Brush up on new things: For many it’s an opportune time to learn new skills. Check out the many free online offerings, educational videos on YouTube and even blogs from many of our members and others. Using the downtime productively may help you deal with the mental strains too of isolation or grieving the temporary closure of a business. If you’re not familiar with video conferencing such as Zoom, take the time to learn as it’s likely platforms like this will be used more and more in the future … and they’re also being used a lot at present to continue connections with others.
- Think innovation: Consider options to go online with your products and services. If you’ve got a WordPress website, for instance, it isn’t much of a step (and often no extra cost) to add an online shop using WooCommerce. Several of our members can assist or reach out to someone within your circles who might already have a shop. Another option to consider is selling on Facebook.
- Take a break: For many of us life in business can be hectic and we never get the chance to take a break. This could be the perfect opportunity.
- Reach out to others: It’s fair to say EVERY one of us is impacted by COVID-19, so it isn’t hard to find a kindred spirit who understands what you’re going through. It’s OK to feel like you’re not coping, provided you talk it out and seek counsel from others. If you’ve had to close a business, it’s like losing a loved one, there will be a grieving process involved. If finances are an issue, contact someone who can give you financial advice. Don’t be afraid to contact the bank or other financial institution you deal with, or the Tax Office, if you’re having trouble meeting your commitments, or you’re concerned that you will have difficulty in the future. There is no shame in this, many people will be doing it and it’s best to do it before you’re really in a crisis position if you can.
- Keep it positive: While it is hard and sometimes impossible to keep a positive face amid this crisis, it is vital you try to do it for your “business face”. Customers are feeling negative too, so won’t be attracted to dealing with someone who’s negative and certainly won’t buy a gift voucher for use in the future if they’re unsure if you’re going to be around.
I encourage everyone to ensure they have kept their customers informed of changes to policies, including opening and closing circumstances. Don’t forget to update these on your website, Facebook and Google My Business. Customers don’t want to be mucked around by attending your business on advertised hours if you’re not around. Don’t abandon your social media either, even if your business may be physically closed at present. There’s plenty of other content you could be posting, including shares from other pages and people to keep up at least a persona that you’re still around and intending to return.
Regards Carolyn Jeffrey (Network Founder)