We all want to know how to survive and thrive in the ‘new normal’ created by COVID-19, so welcome to Echo’s series of articles on business resilience. You can also access opportunities to develop skills in crowdfunding, social media strategy, and digital marketing through Echo’s Digital Skills Workshops.
The coronavirus has introduced the world to the beginning of a unique economic era.
Marked with uncertainty and instability, we have already lost 230 000 small businesses to the economic effects of the pandemic. Small businesses make up 99% of all British businesses, so their resilience is vital to our local and national economies.
It seems to be a perfect time to rethink business strategy, so this is how a small business can respond to crises, even without a big budget for expert teams.
1. Understand which of your business challenges existed before the coronavirus crisis and which were caused by the coronavirus crisis
Crisis or not, businesses go bust all the time, so it’s crucial to determine what your business needs are for survival during a stable economic environment.
When you understand and accept those needs, you can then create a strategy to respond to the business needs created from the coronavirus crisis. These strategies must work alongside together, so make sure you prioritise what needs you respond to first.
2. Find out where your cash flow is coming from
Understanding your customers is the key to sustaining them. Find out what kind of customers are most interested in your business.
What do they like buying from you? What are their spending habits within your business and with your competitors? Most importantly, how can you be there for customers when they want to buy something from you? Going through this process will highlight which customers to focus your marketing strategy around.
3. Get specific about what value your business brings
Your customers buy your products because they believe it provides them with a value. So, it’s vital to understand how your customer interacts with the value you create. Use the information from Step 2 to help you. Take what is most important to your customers and make that known and catered for in your communications to them.
4. Be realistic and practical about your capabilities
Now that you have an awareness of the ratio between your business challenges and business potential, you can determine how to move forward with what you can offer.
Can you maintain your past products? Are present and potential customer expectations in line with what you can provide? Now is the time to get real about what you can provide, so you can clearly and precisely set customer expectations.
5. Create an action plan
The first 4 steps will have highlighted the opportunities you have to respond to a crisis. Creating an action plan means that you can clearly prioritise which business needs must be met, which opportunities you can start planning for, and what decisions can make that happen. When you have an action plan in place, you must create a time limit for each major decision.
This is important because you can choose how long a major decision is valid before you review it. This will cultivate a forward moving vision of your business and give you a sense of what to look out for.
Following these 5 steps will help you navigate the ups and downs of our economic landscape. However, it’s a continuous process and responding to crises will look different in different circumstances.
You can also sign up for Echo’s upcoming series of Digital Skills Workshops for small businesses with topics such as crowdfunding, social media strategy, and digital marketing.
This article was written by Selsabil Amine, an MSc student at Loughborough University London. Selsabil is currently a communications volunteer with The Match and is researching crisis communications in the political world. She is passionate about public relations and enjoys learning how effective communication strategies are created and received.
This article features recommendations based on Ritter and Pederson’s study into how the coronavirus is impacting business models. Access the abstract here.