No businesses, big or small, were able to escape the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the total cost of COVID to small businesses in the UK was upwards of £126.6 billion — a massive hit to the economy.
Although it has always been important for businesses to prepare for unforeseen events, it seems more important now than ever. Even if businesses survive tough times, they may be faced with economic challenges, supply shortages, and employee issues — all while trying to comply with health and safety standards.
Business owners need to have a plan B and C when things don’t go the way they plan. In this article, we’ll show you how to navigate business issues and stay resilient throughout periods of uncertainty.
Let’s look at strategies that can help you strengthen your business.
Prioritise your customers
Keeping your customers top of mind is essential to getting through hard times. If you provide top-tier customer service, you’re more likely to retain existing customers and even increase your client base.
There are several different strategies you can use to keep your customers happy, including:
- Using customer incentives or loyalty programs to reward long-time customers
- Adapting your service or product to serve your customers’ needs
- Diversifying your business to lower potential issues if you lose customers
Don’t just stop once you make the sale. Providing high-quality post-purchase sales service is key to retaining your customers.
Manage your staff and relationships
Small business employee issues are a crucial factor to prepare for. Make sure your human resources plan is up-to-date so that you can fully analyse your staffing costs.
It’s important to practice clear business communication with your staff with full transparency about what is going on in the business. This will help build morale, teamwork, and motivation for the challenges that lie ahead.
If you need to change your staffing arrangements (like reducing hours), try to be as flexible as possible. For example, you can ask your full-time staff to work 4 days a week. You might need to train your employees to take on more duties as well.
To get the most out of your team, it’s important to support them as much as possible. This could be as simple as a 10-minute chat every week. But showing your staff that you support and care about them can mean a lot.
This doesn’t just go for your employees — this can even mean your suppliers, customers, or even your landlord, too. Building strong relationships with people can encourage people to work together through tough times rather than turning on one another.
This is a great way to be proactive and prevent issues from happening.
Don’t be afraid to innovate
It’s much easier to just stay the course and continue business as usual rather than come up with new ideas and services. But when unexpected problems arise, it’s important to come up with unique, flexible solutions to adapt to the new situation.
For example, when the pandemic forced tons of businesses to go remote, they took advantage of tools like Zoom, Slack, and other remote workplaces that could help them continue to work in different ways.
Embrace innovation as much as possible. You can do this by paying attention to your customers, vendors, and staff. Understand what your business is capable of doing and brainstorm solutions that can help it run more efficiently under new circumstances.
Focus on growth
Don’t just focus on surviving. Try to identify growth opportunities and keep testing your digital marketing. Keep trying to find new market segments that you can be successful with and have your team focus on how to make it a reality.
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Prioritise agility and manage risk
When trying times come to your business, it’s vital to be able to quickly move resources without hurting your core operations. It could be a big operational challenge, but preparing ahead of time can help you move more agilely.
This can mean simplifying your processes, utilizing more automation, getting rid of paper usage, or changing systems to make your business more accessible online. Challenge your previous assumptions in how you ran your business to see where you can create more efficient change.
Be aware of high-risk decisions
Can your business survive if your biggest customer cancels their order for a few months? What happens if several employees leave at once? What if the economic issues in the business get worse or taxes continue to rise? Do you have enough insurance?
It’s important to take stock of all of the “what-if” situations that could arise for your business. The more aware you are of different situations that can happen, the more you can address them without being caught off guard.
Stay as informed as possible
It’s important to stay informed of the facts of what is happening as well as official government announcements — especially in a period with high levels of false information going around.
There are often several programs of government assistance to businesses during periods of economic downturn. If you’re not completely sure of what you are able to use, reach out to a professional to clarify it for you.
Don’t just focus on the internal aspects of your business. Be highly aware of what is going on externally, or risk missing things that can greatly benefit your business.
Know your purpose
During uncertain times, it can be easy to lose sight of what the real purpose of your business is. It can be easy to default to “just trying to survive.” But this mindset can make your daily operations much harder and more stressful than if you have a real goal to work towards.
Make it crystal clear what your business’s purpose is beyond survival. This is not only key to helping keep you motivated, but to make your business more effective as well.
Navigating business issues and coming out better than ever
“Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger” isn’t just an old, tired proverb. It’s a truth in life and business.
Planning ahead for business issues and learning how to make your company more adaptable is a sure-fire way to become stronger, more efficient, and smarter for future situations that may arise.
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