2020 has been a year of pronounced uncertainty for individuals and businesses alike; there’s nothing quite like a global pandemic, followed by a challenging economic aftermath to keep you on your toes.
We’ve seen businesses completely pause their operations, others have permanently shut, while others are innovating and finding new ways to do business.
So, what is the recipe for becoming one of the winning businesses who can take difficult and uncertain economic conditions and create success?
In uncertain times the argument that ‘this is how we do it because it’s how we have always done it’, no longer applies. You need to question every aspect of your business and assume nothing.
What do your customers need right now?
Can you adapt what you are already doing to be more relevant?
Is there something new that you can do that would better meet their needs?
Do more for your existing customers
The clients in your business are your ready-made fans. If you have taken excellent care of them, they like and trust what you do.
Spend some time speaking with customers or give them an incentive to complete a survey that will provide you with insights into what more you can do to serve your existing client base.
Do a full review of your budget to make sure that your allocations still make sense. Perhaps you have factored in some in-person events that can now be done for free online. If sales are down, consider pausing some of your advertising spend in favour of organic content that you can do for free, such as posting on your social channels.
Strip out non-essential spend that will not negatively impact your business, but don’t go so far that you reduce your ability to grow as economic times improve.
Cash flow is king
Many profitable businesses go into bankruptcy because they run out of cash. During difficult times it’s more crucial than ever to look at your cash flow position regularly. Look at what you can do to ensure you get paid as quickly as possible and that you have flexibility in the timing of your payments to suppliers.
If you are in a fix, speak to your creditors to see if they can extend your payment terms. Get on top of your receivables; who owes you money, and are they able to pay?
If you only have a short period where you need to bridge a cash flow gap, you could speak with your payment solutions provider to see if they can offer you a cash advance.
You can also explore government support programmes. Just make sure for your peace of mind that you have a route to repaying any credit that you take on, or you risk making your situation worse.
Protect your mental health
Challenging times take their toll on everyone in a business. You may be working harder than ever with a constant fear of financial uncertainty hanging over you.
During these times, the basics of enough sleep, eating and drinking well, exercise and some time to unwind are critical.
You can also encourage open conversations within your teams, so everyone has a space to talk and receive support.
Find more ways to add value and build trust
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some businesses have stood out by offering incredible value to others who are going through tough times.
Think about what value you can add in the marketplace that is relevant to your core product and service offerings. People who like what you will do will begin to convert to paying customers or at least have a positive association with your brand.
Don’t be apologetic about selling
Even in a deep recession, people need to purchase goods and services. As long as your business offers something ethical that is relevant to the current times, you should feel proud to offer it!
Stay true to your vision, your values, your why, and never compromise on your ethics.
Make it easy for customers to transact with you
During uncertain times it’s critical to transact with customers in the places they want to do business with you. Online sales have skyrocketed while people have been at home more and this trend looks set to continue, so make sure that you have an excellent eCommerce Payment Gateway that is easy to use.
If you see customers on the road, then a mobile card machine can be a very convenient way to take payments.
For brick and mortar businesses, make sure that you offer a card machine that accepts contactless and mobile wallet transactions as these are increasingly popular.
Find the right partners
To be successful in business, you need a winning team, and that becomes even more important when times are tough. Look at the activities you conduct in your business and critically assess what you can do internally and what should be done by an external partner.
When looking at your existing partners, and considering new ones, assess which businesses offer the services you need today, at the right quality, the correct prices, and have the ability to scale with you.
If we consider how you take payments, you need a payment solutions provider that offers a range of payment solutions to suit how your clients transact with you. Select one that assists you with your cash flow by getting you your money fast; for example, payments experts UTP Group offer same day funding through faster card processing which gets you your money as quickly as within an hour.
Conclusion: tough times create opportunities
The reality is that everything in life involves a degree of uncertainty. Periods of extreme change create opportunities for the business owners who have the right mindset, who are willing to pivot and who have the right team and partners around them.
What seems like a disaster today could be the defining moment that leads you to new levels of success.