The whole world has been put on pause because of the COVID pandemic, and for many business owners, the same holds true for their business. We are so bogged down in understanding changing regulations, worrying about CDC guidelines, and getting caught up in the minutia of getting through another COVID quarantine day, that our businesses and our psyche have suffered. Instead of looking at this as another day in the COVID pandemic doldrums, why not use this as a time to try to reinvigorate your business by infusing new energy and strategies.
We have put together our top 5 ideas that you can use to improve your business operations, grow revenues, and hopefully improve your bottom line:
Set aside time each day to work on your business and not just in it:
If you ask most business people where they spend the majority of their time, they will respond in the present, focused on crisis management. It is very hard to move your business forward if every day you are stuck in the weeds or putting out fires. You should set aside time each day to focus on your business. Look at your business; understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in each phase of your business and think strategically on how you can utilize that understanding to catapult your business to new levels. Work with your management team to divvy up responsibilities to take advantage of internal expertise. Consider bringing in outside specialization where necessary to supplement internal resources. The goal should be to look at your business as if your team were consultants hired to improve the overall effectiveness of your business model. This may result in the need for your company to pivot to a new way of doing business, new product/service line or new ways of interfacing with your clients and staff. The goal is to make sure you capitalize on the changes we are experiencing in the current business climate.
Develop an Advisory Board:
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to put together a group of people and ask them candid questions about your business? So why don’t you? You have customers, vendors, distributors, etc. who are all vested in your long-term success. Why not bring them together and have them provide some strategic thought process into what you do well and what you can improve. If you feel it might be more beneficial, set up mini-boards that meet regularly, say once a quarter, who are focused on different aspects of your business. For instance. a customer board could be focused on sales processes, customer service, and quality related issues, while a vendor board may be focused on the supply chain, inventory levels, and payment systems. The goal here is to get an outside view from people who regularly interface with you and your systems on how you can run your business more effectively. You will find that people are more than willing to help if they are just asked.
Create Collaboration Arrangements:
There are millions of private companies that do so many different things, many of which, I’m sure, are complementary to your business. Do some research, seek them out and open up a dialogue about collaborating. If you are a sustainable product, find other sustainable products, and find ways to cross/joint market. Your customer base is already into sustainability, as is theirs, so by collaborating, you can leverage each other’s contacts and customers for joint benefit. The key here is to make sure you do your homework on your potential partners because if you are going to joint market, you don’t want their poor quality, bad customer services, or any other issues to blowback on you.
Improve your Website and Social Media Presence:
When was the last time you updated your website? How often do you add content? How are you interacting with your customers and why should they visit you? If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that the world is going virtual and we need to be there or we will get left behind. Traditional brick and mortar will need to be supplemented or replaced by an online presence. The problem is that there are so many online businesses screaming at the top of their lungs, it is hard for anyone to hear your message. You need to create engagement within your customers. Consider regular social media postings, utilizing influencers, adding regular meaningful content to your website, doing giveaways – whatever it takes to create engagement. You need to give people a reason to come to your website and let others know about you too. Also consider reaching out to your customers and find out what they would like more information on so you can blog it out to your customers and potential customers. Ask your customers to rate you – positive reviews are the currency of the internet. See what your competitors are doing/talking about and consider if you should be incorporating that into your messaging too. The key is engagement. You need to be engaging your customers and prospects regularly if you want your message to stick.
Many companies have created logos, taglines and brands many years ago and their company has evolved but their branding has not. The imaging may be stale, colors no longer trending or messaging just not what the market wants to hear. Just look at the Washington Football Team (the team formerly known as the Redskins). It was time to rebrand as their name was no longer politically correct. Now that is not to say you need to change your name, but a facelift may not be a bad idea. A good rule of thumb is that you should review your branding every 5 to 10 years to see if your look and messaging are still on target or if they need a little remodeling to get with the times.
While I understand that this is a top 5 list, we are non-traditional in our thinking, so here is a bonus way you can reinvigorate your business:
Focus on your Staff:
When was the last time you walked around and had a meaningful conversation with your staff? You know, the people on the front lines interfacing with clients, producing products, cleaning the building. They have a tremendous level of information about their jobs and how they interface with others, and many of them have ideas on how they can help improve your company’s operations. The problem is, nobody ever asks them. Give your staff a voice. Offer them a bonus for ideas you implement into your business model. You may be surprised by the ideas that you are presented with.
I understand that the pandemic has made everyone a little stir crazy and has sucked some of the imagination and life out of all of us. Things will hopefully be getting to the new normal soon, whatever that is. The steps you take today to reinvigorate your business and yourself will go a long way in setting the tone for what your business will be in the future. Retake control, your business will thank you.
Kayla Vigorito, MBA
Kayla is a member of Cerini & Associates’ tax staff which provides services across a variety of industries including healthcare, construction, retail, manufacturing, service, and technology.