We truly are living in unprecedented times. But you knew that already.
As Richard Mulholland said in a recent article - make decisions now that future you can be proud of. We have a rare opportunity here to reassess, to grow, to refresh, to walk through this fire and come out better, bolder and braver.
But we need to be making choices and taking actions on a daily basis towards being that better version of ourselves, and let that infiltrate down into our businesses, our routines, and our family life.
Flashing back to a few weeks ago, when I started this series:
"We are all in different boats right now, even though we may be facing the same storm. Some of those boats are big, some small, some have lifeboats, some have kids, some have partners with secure incomes, some are solo boats.
My guess however, is that each and every one of those boats is taking on water - whether through a small leak, or a gushing hole in the bottom of the boat. Some of the sailors are blind to this water coming in, some are desperately repairing that leak stuffing it with everything that they can get their hands on. Some are fastidiously drawing up plans to build a brand new boat."
(Read the rest of part one here, in which I chat about updating your bios, portfolios and website; as well as going digital, helping others, and reviewing cashflow).
There are small actions we can strive to achieve on a daily basis, in between the chaos, the panic, and I share my ideas with you here, in the hopes that all small businesses can benefit - as the backbone of our country and our economy I truly believe we should all be reaching out and offering a helping hand to the companies around us, to the friends, to the family members, and of course to those who need it the most.
(If you'd like to jump back to part two - here it is - in which I talk about empowering yourself by learning from economic and entrepreneurial experts, diversifying & adapting, using free advertising and making the most of this "quiet time".)
Here are some fresh ideas for this week:
1. Ask the experts.
In part two I started with the idea that it is time to start studying - to learn from the experts, through podcasts and articles and webinars.
But, in order to step that up, it may be time to receive one-on-one focused advice for your particular biz.
In the past few weeks, I've been in contact with my accountant, payroll manager, financial advisor, business coach, and recently a small business expert in order to get focused tips for my business in particular.
It is amazing to have a similar team of people around your business, but if you don't it's not too late to build a network of contacts like this.
I would recommend starting with a convo with Warren Melnick of M Melnick Financial Services. They specialise in the back office stuff for small businesses as an extension of your company. So they handle accounting, bookkeeping, SARS, and everything financial related, as well as HR and payroll, Insurance (short and long term) and everything else you may need.
My recent chat with Warren was eye-opening, as he guided me through ALL of the ins-and-outs of the relief funds currently available for South African business owners - and provided invaluable tips and insight.
What other similar resources have you found? Please share in the comments.
2. Build a community through serving.
We've also been creating resources on this very blog - from this article you're reading right now, to posts on why these adverse conditions can make you a better business owner, reasons why you need a brand refresh, and why a new logo can make you stand out in a sea of competitors.
We've launched a new instagram page, called Support Your Local, designed to give local businesses a platform on which to share their efforts during this time, and one focused spot where potential clients can help the businesses in their area.
These actions on our part are designed to help others, to build trust and community, and to reinforce that the best parts of our nature come from compassion, collaboration, kindness and care.
And in return - well, we've been blown away by the responses. Mom bloggers/influencers offering to feature our business for free on their pages, business advisors offering us free advice, clients reaching out with messages of support, and the growth of our community and reach. It's incredibly heartwarming, and exactly what's needed right now.
3. Lead well.
In the article I mentioned up top, Richard Mulholland says, "You see at some point in a few years, future you is going to have to cash the cheques that current you is writing and for your sake make sure that they are not inked with regret. Make future you proud...!"
As a small business owner, you're likely to have a circle of influence, whether that is over your team, or your followers, or clients - and ideally you want to be able to look back at your actions during this time and know that you acted with integrity, with the interests of others in mind, and didn't do damage to your own or your business' reputation during this time.
It is good to have your own set of values written out next to your computer, and the values of your company, so that you know every time you send an email, or post online you can refer back to these core intentions, and be true to them.
4. Stick to the rules.
It's very tempting right now, as our bank balances start to look scary, to consider "bending the rules" outlined by the government. Maybe we could just "sneak in a job", go visit a client - no one would know right?
It certainly isn't the ethical thing to do, and I do think those flouting the rules will face a big backlash. This could do huge damage to your brand or reputation, besides from the obvious risk of contracting/spreading the virus.
Rather focus on diversifying your service/product offerings, applying for the numerous bail out plans, reducing your costs and expenses as far as possible, and following the other tips outlined here.
5. Listen to the trend forecasters.
There's a lot that's going to change because of this time, and a lot that already has.
Trend forecasters are already tapping into the ideals that will shift because of what we're going through right:
- advertising trends (a push towards more authentic, real messaging)
- spending trends (a change of our spending appetites towards being more conservative/frugal)
- locality shift (from the reliance on big international brands to the support for local economies and businesses)
Tapping into these trends can make a big difference in how you portray your brand going forward, and any new business strategies that you need to adopt now.
Entrepreneurs are FIERCELY resilient.
Now is the time to truly step into that resilience, to embrace these challenges, and to come out stronger on the other side.
What other ideas would you like to add to this list?