A couple of weeks ago I posted part one of this series, chatting about how even though we are in different boats, we are facing the same storm. We all have different amounts of time and energy on our hands right now, and my aim with this series is to empower small business owners with a few quick, helpful tips during this crazy time.
Financial experts are suggesting we assume that there will be a 50-90% revenue loss over the next 3 - 6 - 9 months. So what can you be doing to weather that storm?
Here are some ideas:
1. Start studying.
I know, I know, you got your degree years ago, and now experience is what dictates how great you are at your job. What is there possibly to be studying?
Well, the upcoming months are going to be the biggest test - the ultimate exam. What are the financial experts recommending? What are the entrepreneurial wiz's up to? What are the business coaches saying?
A lot of these people are experts because they've been trained to use innovation and intuition in their work lives. They are currently sitting analysing trends, and have a pretty good handle on what is coming up next in terms of the economic fallout from corona.
My biggest goal at the moment is to tune into as many of the free resources that they're providing as possible. A few of my go-to's are:
- Nic Haralambous
Does weekly live 30 minute broadcasts, chatting about what small businesses can be doing right now.
- Sam Beckbessinger
A local financial wiz, also providing great info for small businesses.
There are a plethora of articles and tips being shared on this platform.
- Rich Mulholland
Also providing a lot of great articles for business owners at the moment.
All of these are quick, easily consumable resources - 30 minute broadcasts, quick articles with 5-10 tips you can read with your morning coffee, podcasts you pop on while you're showering. All of them aim to open your eyes, and provide you with invaluable insight and inspiration during this time.
I've also started an Economics course through Masterclass (this isn't free, but I'm finally using this resource that I bought last year!). This course is giving a great overview on what happens to markets, supply chains and finances during economic recessions - so I have a much better idea of what to expect over the next year.
What other similar resources have you found? Please share in the comments.
Now is the time to be drawing on every possible skill set you have, and tapping into the skills of your team (if you have one).
Make a list of all the things you can do (both personally and professionally) - what other skills can you add to your CV/offerings as a business? It may be that the face of your business or job will change so drastically over the next 6 - 12 months that you may end up working in a completely different field/position.
Over the past couple of weeks we have launched an online store, and I'm tapping into my editing team's graphic design abilities to start offering digital design services - logos, website design etc. We are aware that we need to adapt quickly, and are brainstorming new offerings and plans on a daily basis.
3. Use free advertising.
We have based a LOT of our advertising over the past eight years on what we can get for free - and that has secured us a really good position - as one of the busiest and biggest photographic businesses in South Africa (averaging 20 photo shoots PER WEEK, in pre-lockdown times).
The three go-to's:
This is one of the most under-rated advertising channels out there; and one of the biggest search engines in the world. If what you offer as a small business owner is in any way visual (and a lot of businesses are), you should be listing your products/services on Pinterest, and using pins to drive traffic back to your website.
Here you can explore our Pinterest page (in a good month we get up to 96k unique views!), and Melyssa Griffin's Pinfinite Growth course has everything you need to know about this platform and how to optimise it.
- Blog SEO
A lot of businesses aren't optimising on how much traffic they can get from an active blog. And this doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be writing long posts (such as this one!). Our photographic blog posts have very small captions, a handful of images and MOST IMPORTANTLY - metatags on all the pics. These tags guide Google to find your posts, and to know what images to show potential clients when they type "johannesburg lifestyle photographer" into Google. Without these posts and these tags, search engines (and therefore future clients) are going to struggle to find your website, and you!
- Social Media
Of course this one seems quite obvious. But a lot of businesses seem to think that popping up an image onto instagram every couple of weeks with a "hey we sell this thing" caption is enough to make these platforms work for you.
But the good news is there are a few small quick tweaks you can make to maximise on your social media posts, and drive traffic to your business for free.
4. Use this "quiet time".
Work on client experience.
Now is the time, with a quiet inbox to truly work on how you can better serve clients in the busy times - great workflows, PDFs, price lists, blog posts filled with info that will make their booking process easier, will improve their understanding of your service/product, and you!
5. Prepare to adapt.
Update your CV.
Build up your LinkedIn profile.
Keep building that skill set, with useful skills (not just banana bread making, ha!) - there are SO many online resources, most of which are free, that can make you into a better business owner, or a great asset to a company in the next 12 - 18 months.
A lot of companies, and individuals are going to face tough times ahead. And the better prepared you can be right now, the better you will weather this storm.
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.
Robyn Davie is the CEO of the Robyn Davie Photography brand, based in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Her team is made up of six JHB photographers, four CT photographers, an office manager, marketing manager, business manager and a handful of editors and graphic designers.
The brand has proudly partnered with the iStore in 2020, and won multiple awards through Admired in Africa. Innovation is at the forefront of what they do - always adapting their product offerings, and aiming to stand out from the crowd with fresh, bold and bright photography.