Our current national lockdown for the coronavirus is an historic event – and a disaster for small businesses.
In essence, the federal government is asking American businesses to commit financial suicide by shutting down.
There is no doubt that many small businesses won’t survive this event. They have been surviving from week to week, and without revenue coming in, they will be unable to pay expenses like rent and utilities that continue even when they aren’t open to the public.
This event will also create a huge hardship for many workers, whose employment will vanish. The relief measures offered by the federal government will be a drop in the bucket.
Further, being self-isolated at home is depressing and energy deflating. A natural inclination is to simply sit on the couch and watch television or play video games.
Sales and motivation trainer Zig Ziglar used to call this “Having a private pity party.”
“Poor little me!”
That response is death!
Entrepreneurs built their businesses and this country by taking action, and that is what is required to survive this crisis.
At the risk of oversimplifying the situation, here are some suggestions of things you can do to improve your business’s position during the “self isolation” lockdown.
If you are a business that is allowed to continue to operate, you now have an opportunity. Many of your competitors might be opting to close or otherwise reduce operations. They are laying down! Now is the time to step up your selling efforts and promotions and reach out to your customers. Let them know you are open and ready to serve them.
Adapt!! How can you modify what you offer to fit the current situation?
I talked to my son-in-law, Dan, this morning. Dan and my daughter, Holly, own a community-based restaurant, Marche’ Aux Fleurs, located in Ross, California. Restaurants currently aren’t allowed to serve customers in the dining room but can serve take-out orders. Dan said the restaurant sold 80 take-out meals yesterday (March 17.) That would normally be a very big night of business for Marche’ Aux Fleurs! Dan said several other local restaurants have decided to close for the lockdown.
Obviously grocery stores have been making a killing from the crisis. Panicked customers are cleaning the shelves of toilet paper, water, staples and meat. The stores’ challenge right now is restocking their shelves. Some shipments have been slow to arrive. Some vendors aren’t delivering goods during the lockdown.
When you have a situation like this, you have to creatively think, “how can this crisis be the reason for buying my product (or using my service.)”
Marketing consultant Mike Capuzzi coaches entrepreneurs to write short books to promote their businesses. Mike is writing emails to his customers saying NOW is the time to write that short book you’ve been putting off working on!
By the way, Mike Capuzzi is right. Writing a short book to promote your business is a very productive thing you can do right now to position yourself as the obvious expert. He tells how in his latest book, Main Street Author.
My son James has created and sells a family card game, called Crazier Eights. He currently has a kickstarter campaign to finance producing the newest edition of the game, Crazier Eights Olympus. People who contribute to the kickstarter will receive the game. Isn’t playing a family card game a great activity when you are in self-isolation? (Here’s a link to James’s kickstarter https://tinyurl.com/crazier8.)
For other businesses, we have been blessed with the internet and can also use the telephone and mail.
Now is a great time for connecting with your customers and for building your list of prospective customers.
I just read a short book, Booked by Josh Turner, describing a system to build your prospective customer list using social media. You could try putting that system in action.
We have video conferencing tools, like Skype, Facebook Live, Zoom and WebEx, for connecting with customers.
You can set up a Facebook group or Facebook page for your business.
You can send email messages to your customers and prospective customers, so they won’t forget you. Avoid being “spammy” or “salesey”. What can you say that will be valuable, supportive, or inspirational? Make a goal of sending a message at least once a week.
Remember, your competitors are probably laying down. Why not position yourself to be in the front of your customer’s mind?
Work on that front-of-mind positioning at least an hour a day and you should be in good shape when the lockdown ends. It will also be a good habit to keep when it’s over.
What new products or services that you can develop? Now is a great time to plan or create them. What can you offer for your customers or prospective customers to have a better life experience during the lockdown?
I hope this discussion stimulates your thinking about positive steps you can take right now so that your business will not only survive this crisis but thrive and be well-positioned for the future. If you would like my help in this process, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. I think it’s very likely we will see a baby boom next year! How can you plan for that?