As a budding entrepreneur or as an established owner you would have had a lot on your plate. Marketing strategies, finding new clients, maintaining the cash flow, building a successful team, managing projects etc., would have topped your priority. Now the world has changed yet again for you, but this time in a much more dramatic way. Corona pandemic preparation is something that would have been the least of your priorities. Suddenly you need to adapt for a new problem. For which no one has any real solution.
As a passionate entrepreneur these are testing times. That funding round you are about to close, that new deal you are about to sign, the break even point that is certain this month, the new project you are about to complete, all that excitement and energy you have built up over the years has to pause now. I am sure this will be frustrating for you. But as your emotions settle, you have to think about adopting yet another new situation so that your business can have continuity. You have to think to reduce damage for your business and for all the stakeholders involved. Here are some of our thoughts to expand your ideas.
Setting up communication channels and Protocols :
You might have had working from home as a practice and your team might have already used it. But this time the situation is a little different. You have to work only from home for a significant period of time and also the entire team has to work from home. This is a radical change that you or your team might not be trained for.
Establishing a proper communication channel and protocols is an absolute necessity so that every team member is equally informed. Have different levels of communication channels like project wide, marketing wide, supply chain wide, management wide, entire team wide etc,. Make sure you over-communicate at this time. This is never a bad practice even in ordinary situations. Use this situation to practise it. Leaders of the organisation should lead by example.
Assumptions are more dangerous than corona. Create protocols that emphasize the need to communicate transparently with the team members to avoid frustration and confusion, and to create more clarity. Create an environment where even the mistakes and apologies are communicated openly without any judgement.
Once you have free flow of information at a realtime speed, you can be assured that half of your problems are sorted. To communicate in real time is extremely important as the other side will be waiting for you to respond and the delays will be multiplied if the responses are not done realtime adding to every one’s frustration. A well-informed team is always a happy team.
Take on Marketing :
You can’t stop marketing your business. As we all know these are unprecedented times and not something that will happen daily. But you can try to take advantage of this situation by experimenting with new ideas and gathering insights. Understand, like you, the entire world is trying to find ways to continue their business as usual. This is not a world holiday. Continue doing your routine marketing activities and see how the world is responding to.
It is important to ask what marketing messaging is appropriate and how do you most effectively engage with customers during the outbreak? How can you leverage data and analytics? Understand the change in customer behaviour during the times of disruption and uncertainty.
Send those newsletters and cold emails to check the open rate. See how your digital marketing is working. Content marketing can become the effective way to communicate with your customers and stay in touch. Most importantly learn what is working quickly and find ways to scale it.
Manage the cash flow / Sales :
One of those things which has answers for any kind of business problem is sales. One of the most important sales strategies that you have to follow now is to stop selling and start helping your customers. Selling hard can tarnish your brand reputation. Understanding that your sales pipeline will be stalled for some time is important. Senior management should work closely with the sales teams and avoid creating unnecessary pressure or passing panic during this time.
One of the mature things that you can do is to keep your leads warm. Keep checking with them passively and wait for the right time. People will still look for services and products they just need more time to give a sign off and you should be more empathetic towards them during this time of crisis. Build your pipeline as much as possible and try to make up when the situation becomes normal. If you are selling products, try to give discounts.
Shift your sales only to online and avoid travelling during this time of outbreak. Create proper calendars and communication systems with your customers. Make your meeting times efficient by proper planning and prepared questions. Understand the entire world is working remotely and remote meetings should not become time killers. Try to have less meetings by involving all stakeholders in one call or keeping the conversations in writings.
Sales can heal any business issues. Make sure you keep your thinking caps on and make best use of this opportunity to innovate.
Health and safety of your team:
Last but not the least the people who are driving your business have to be given top priority. Their health and safety is more important than anything else. Approach the situation with empathy. Educate your people to be safe and follow the government protocols strictly. Encourage your team to be obsessive about their personal hygiene.
While everyone is working remotely make sure you plan for some quality time to get together virtually and discuss personal things and know each other’s updates. Hear from each other and from everyone. Make sure the team stays together and avoid unnecessary miscommunications. Invite your leaders to recognise and appreciate some of the key achievements of the team and the individual contributions.
As an entrepreneur you would have never had enough time for yourself. You were always on the run tackling problems and growing your business. You were afraid to slow down. Bur now you are forced to sit back. Now as you know that the entire world is doing it you can safely take that step back.
Use this time to reflect on yourself and separate yourself from the business. Think for yourself and how you can improve your personality. Spend this precious time effectively with your family. Read those books that you bought and are waiting to be turned. Finish those personal assignments. It is an opportunity to reinvent yourself.
I personally believe that this lockdown due to corona pandemic is going to have an irreversible effect on me. There were a lot of things that I found it hard to let go of. But nature has yet again showed all of us what is more important. When this entire episode is over and things are back to normaI I am sure that my thought process will never be the same.