Truly, these are times painted with tribulations, trials, and despair. Everywhere there are reports of the number of COVID-19 cases increasing, people afraid of leaving their homes, and the economy taking a spin that was unforeseen at the beginning of this year.
Business owners may be feeling like Atlas carrying the Earth on his back. Many businesses are suffering, especially those in the hospitality and aviation sectors. Things have taken a turn for the worse.
We’ve had interruptions happen to us before, and we’ve come out better and stronger. So, fear not and keep a positive mindset.
To help you bounce back, we will be looking at eight strategies you can use to restore your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
#1 Plan the Appropriate Return-Strategy with the Big Guns
So, what does a return-strategy look like? How do you plan it out? Who do you work with on planning and executing the strategy?
The return-strategy will depend on your business model. The common-sense approach would be to readjust that model based on the current scenario in your sector. Recently the UAE adopted the 80-20 rule: meaning that in order to get 80% of your operations to jump-start, or rather “jump-resume,” it is crucial for 20% of the workforce to begin fully operating. Here is where your “Big Guns” come in.
Find out who are the most essential staff members in your team (you know, the ones who you trust would take care of your business should you ever get into a freak accident, God forbid). With the help of these team members, formulate a return-strategy that will help your company make a sweeping comeback. Remember, that these essential employees are the ones who help your company make its bread and butter; so, treat them well (we’ll delve into this later).
With your main staff resuming duty in full swing and a strategy set out, you are now assured that all the employees under them (and obviously under you) will be under the right guidance.
#2 Help Your Community
People look to the news at almost every moment, awaiting a positive update on something (or negative if that’s what they’re into). Much of the news is COVID-19 related. Now, one way that your business can get some sort of promotion is if it plays a role in alleviating, in any way, shape, or form, the gloominess caused by the pandemic. Perhaps employees can be organized into volunteer task forces assigned to help their local communities in various capacities.
If company employees volunteer, representing their company, the company name is bound to have a positive image among the public. This in turn leads to building trust among various potential clients.
Not only will your public image be recognized during the pandemic, but it may also be positively recalled after things begin to normalize.
#3 Stay Updated on the News
Usually, we tend to hear mixed opinions on being aware of the news. On the one hand, the human race has come so far that we can access the world’s information in our palms; we can even opt to have updates ring out loud to remind us that something new has happened. On the other hand, we use this technology to upload memes and spread false news.
All things being equal, it is important that you keep up to date on the latest news, especially with regards to the economy and your own respective sector and other related sectors. Who knows? You may run into an important tidbit of information that could help you with rethinking your company’s strategy, developing the business model, or finding a new set of clients.
However, a good chunk of the news out there is either misreported or plain false. Provided you do the correct research and take action on a relevant piece of news, you take a major step towards restoring and revamping your business.
#4 Learn New Soft Skills
If things are going slow, and there is a little bit more time on your hands, it’s time to add some valuable new skills to your already flourishing bouquet of skills. In some ways, the slowing down of business had a silver lining, in that many people have more time to engage in activities and courses that will help to sharpen their skillset. Consider the fact that most folks are working from home, so that gives them plenty of extra time.
There are various mediums out there wherein you can access video lessons: YouTube, edX, LinkedIn, Coursera, SkillShare, and Udemy to name a bunch. The first one is obviously free, and the last two are practically so affordable that you can’t afford not to use them.
Maybe you wanted to improve your speaking skills, or learn how to better manage your MS Excel spreadsheet, or master virtual presentations or even code. Whatever it is that you’re thinking of, chances are that there is a well-presented set of quality video lessons that will give you the necessary edge to uplift your business. Track your time by using an app like Time Doctor.
If a platform is affordable to you, consider buying courses for employees in whom you see a very high potential for certain valuable skills. Not only will the employee have the chance to learn a new skill, but they will truly appreciate the gesture, which in turn will earn you more loyalty.
#5 New Horizons and New Offerings
Every cloud has a silver lining. Your duty is to figure out which cloud you are on, and what the silver lining for it.
This would be the time to look at offering alternative services and broadening your company’s horizons. An example will illustrate this.
I know of a company that is in the Global Mobility and Real Estate sector. They basically assist expatriates into the country and offer relocation services; additionally, they help companies find office spaces. Now, during the pandemic and travel ban, business went down significantly. However, with the hope that the travel ban would soon be lifted, they sustained themselves by expanding into the sanitization business. Additionally, they realized that some expatriates who have gone back home still had leases in the host country. So, they offered home maintenance services.
Look into what your company offers. See where you can expand to the “next-closest” service—something that your company, given what it currently specializes in, will be capable of handling. In addition to rejuvenating your business, this could be an opportunity to add a new valued service that can bring in consistent business even after things return back to normal.
Let the creative juices flow and seek out a new venture. Many companies that have never worked remotely have realized they can cut costs by going remote. Now can be an opportunity to attract the best talent from anywhere in the world by going remote. So get acquainted with apps like Time Doctor (Remote teams time tracking), Proofhub ( All-in-one project planning) and Chanty (Team communication and collaboration) that can help you manage your team remotely. If you have never managed a remote team before, you may want to attend the world’s largest remote conference to learn from founders who have managed a remote team for several years.
#6 Take Advantage of the Situation
I bet most company owners who shuddered at the idea of a busy and hectic day are probably dearly missing those same days. In many situations, clients have ceased to use certain vendors—vendors who are now in deep trouble because they are losing their customer base. What makes things even more challenging are those clients who may not return after the pandemic, perhaps because they found other vendors.
BAs someone working in sales, I have found out that most people are more ready to answer phone calls due to their work-from-home situation. There are a plethora of potential new clients sitting at home, awaiting your call; and they’re not going anywhere (physically, and to a certain extent of course). Pardon the expression, but it’s like shooting monkeys in a barrel.
Also, depending on the product or service you offer, you will have to come up with creative ways to bring the client to you. Many of them are working at home, so find a way to spark their interest to break the monotony of them sitting indoors most of the time.
#7 Letting Your Staff Known that You Care
Now, more than ever, your staff need to know that you care about them. Of course, there are times when there is no other option but for sacrifices to be made (but these need to be done after an extremely careful and ethical analysis). Firing a staff member is always difficult, but don’t do it as an immediate solution that you may regret later. So, what do you do about your staff who are afraid of the idea that their employment may be sitting on the edge of a cliff? You pull them away, and tell them, honestly, that this current chapter is difficult; but the next one will be great!
An essential characteristic as a business owner, one for which your staff will greatly admire you, is sacrifice. Now, don’t go out of your way showing-off that you care for them, lest it look like a publicity stunt. Find subtle ways to show your employees that they matter; show them that what they do is essential to the company. This sense of motivation can inculcate the necessary drive for them to produce results that could go beyond your expectations.
#8 Be Honest
This is perhaps the most important piece of advice I can give: be honest with yourself. Don’t overshoot your expectations, hoping for a dramatic change in your business. At the same time, don’t undershoot and have low expectations.
Don’t let emotion cloud your judgment during a time like this. It’s important to logically consider many outcomes and find a solution that will prep your company for any one of them. If this means drawing up multiple plans and analyzing multiple scenarios, then so be it. At the same time, consider the market trend in your sector and make educated guesses based on which you can draw up new budgets and targets.
Your business is very important to you, and times like this really shake things up. But if you follow the above mentioned tips, and others (because this is by no means exhaustive), your chances of rejuvenating your business will be much higher.
Things to remember:
- Keep a positive mindset throughout this scenario; things will get better
- You are not the only one going through a rough time; there are others as well
- With the extra time available, take care of yourself; you will come out stronger after this is all over
- Humans have gone through plagues, disasters, and calamities in the past; we’ve only come out stronger
Eventually, things will only get better. And sometime down the line, we’ll be looking back at this time. When we do, we’ll have a good laugh about it as we realize that the only thing that held us back was fear and negativity.