Just over six months back, we were all creating our 2020 New Year’s resolutions and goals for our businesses. January came about, and we were off to the races to continue our successful businesses. However, within the next 60 days, we would not know that our lives would change due to a horrific pandemic known as Coronavirus or covid-19.
Business owners around the globe had to shut down. employees were let go, furloughed, and we are left with the uncertain perspective of whether our businesses would survive, let alone our individual lives. Now, in June, strict rules have been put in place in many states within the US, and various state governments and legislators that require businesses to maintain certain social aspects to prevent the spread of such disease. The power of such government regulation was instituted for the sake of public health. The reduced business incomes have in fact caused several businesses, small and large, to be pushed out of business.
So, what do you do in a situation like this? You are a business owner and your income stream has stopped. The bills continue to come in, the inventory sits on the shelf and the sales or services are not rendered…what do you do? You must still have income so you may live and take care of your families.
Having a risk strategy is one effective tool to be able to implement immediate changes when a business is shut down, but it is not enough. This will allow you to get by for a few weeks or months, but what if the shutdown occurs for quarters or a year? What can you do to keep afloat? At this point, as a small business owner you either need to make the hard decision of closure, additional funding through loans or grants, or another income stream.
So, let’s ask ourselves a question as a business owner.
- Why did I open my business?
- What are my customers passionate about?
- Why do my customers spend money at my business versus the competition?
- What knowledge do I have that allows me to be better than my competition?
- How much knowledge do I have about the products or services that my business sells?
While all of these questions are relevant to each of our businesses, the last two bullets is what we should ponder about.
I’ve gone through a number of hair stylists over the years, and I remember a specific hair stylist that I had a few years back that after she styled my hair and before she took my payment, she would always walk me over to the merchandise and try to sell me on some of the products. She had an extraordinarily strong knowledge of which products were great for dandruff, which products were great for dry skin, oily hair, or whatever condition she determined you had as she styled your cut.
This past May, I came across a blog and she was the author. I reached out to her and we ended up having a great conversation over Skype. Turns out that she is still in business, but with the covid-19 pandemic, she had to shut her doors temporarily. What I loved about our chat was her tenacity – she knew she needed to continue to have an income stream. In having a conversation with one of her customers, it was suggested to her that she was very knowledgeable on hair styling, products, and other accessories. It was suggested that she take her website and convert it to a blog and an online store, showcasing styling techniques and products.
She did just that. In just a few days, she built a blog, offered hairstyle tips, and opened a small online store where she could put her products out to sell as she talked about them. While she was not bringing in the income she got from styling everyone’s hair on a daily basis, but she was able to bring some money in so she could continue to pay her mortgage, put food on the table, and just get by. Her doors are now open now and has paused her website chapter, so she could focus back on the people that come in every day.
As each of you are small business owners, shutting the doors and just waiting is simply not enough. Living on credit and stacking your debt is not an effective solution. You need to find ways to drive additional income when your business closes because of a situation beyond your control. Think about your business. What is it that you are good at and what is the knowledge that you have about it? Without giving all of your business secrets, what things can you share with your customers, that will allow them to stay close to you?
For the physical product-based store, you can simply go create an online store and sell. Perhaps you are a service provider, such as a counselor or a yoga instructor? One idea might be to set up a blog or a website and discuss various topics. Perhaps another opportunity is that have one-on-one therapy or training sessions via Skype or Zoom and charge for the services, or even offer a discount, given it’s not at the office.
Our point is simple. As a small business owner, you can simply not close the door and wait. You went into business to hopefully make money and must come up with different ways to drive opportunity and income.
While business closure is not good, it can be a positive opportunity for some. I also know a number of business owners that are constantly so busy in their daily iterations when the store is open, that they should take this closure as an opportunity to revisit all of the business strategies and knock out that whole laundry list of items that are never finished.
In summary, you are in control of your destiny. You cannot control any of the external actions that are occurring in the world. You can only control the actions that you as the business owner can make. Take this opportunity to explore other income streams as well as the opportunity to make changes or adjustments to your business. Take this opportunity to strategize to build new goals and drive your business ahead. Most of all, stay connected with your customers. They are your success and your pipeline!
We wish each of you a successful rest of 2020 and that your health may be good.