When a crisis occurs and businesses are forced to close, your next step can mean the difference between the life or death of your business. Your job as a business owner is to save, preserve and grow your business — regardless if you’re a small startup LLC or a large corporation with hundreds of employees.
Should you be faced with a crisis, you need to implement a lifeboat strategy to navigate through treacherous waters. You also need specific sales and marketing strategies in place to keep your business from taking on water and going under.
The Lifeboat Strategy
The lifeboat strategy involves keeping only the important things in the boat that are necessary to keep the business running effectively while offloading anything that isn’t crucial. Such a strategy should only be used as a last resort when you’ve exhausted all other options.
You are going to be faced with many difficult decisions during a crisis. Do you keep all of your employees? Do you need to let people go? Do you furlough them for the time being and bring them back once the waters have calmed and the crisis is over? These are all decisions businesses have made and continue to make during the coronavirus.
Here’s what you need to consider in order to make the tough decisions for your lifeboat strategy:
1. What Are the Core Pieces of Business You Need in Your Lifeboat?
Your lifeboat is only so big and you need to think about what is non-negotiable and necessary to keep business up and running. Can your warehouse operate and ship out products or must it close for the time being? Can your team work remotely to implement sales strategies and marketing strategies to keep customers buying? Do you need your IT department operational right now remotely?
Figure out the essential pieces of the business and make sure they are fully functioning and that everyone understands their role while working remotely from home.
2. What Is Your Current Burn Rate?
Look at your monthly fixed and variable expenses and figure out how much money you are spending. These expenses can be things like rent for your office building or space, your utilities, software, taxes, commission, warehousing, payroll and shipping costs to name a few. What, if anything, can you eliminate or reduce your cost on?
Are you able to renegotiate some of your expenses such as contracts or agreements? What about with vendors or suppliers? Can you speak with the owner of the building and ask for help on the monthly rent if you aren’t able to operate from your office during the crisis? Are employees willing to work off of their base salary for the time being and get paid their commissions when you come out of the crisis, so you have more working capital to keep the business running and prevent laying off workers?
3. Forecast and Figure Out What the Future Looks Like
With the crisis at hand, what does it mean for the business in both the short term and the long term? Will you be able to adapt quickly and implement strategies to overcome these obstacles, or will you take a devastating hit?
Run through all the scenarios based on your current situation and the landscape of the market. If your business is considered “essential,” you may need to figure out how to ramp up production of goods or services in order to accommodate the increased demand.
If your business is not considered “essential,” how much of a hit will you take and how can you recover quickly in the coming months to keep the ship afloat? In the short term, go back to your burn rate and eliminate unnecessary expenses so you aren’t taking on so much water that your ship sinks before you can even patch the hole in the vessel.
4. Pivot If Possible
Take a look at the services or goods your business provides. Are all of them still relevant with what’s going on with the market? If some are no longer needed, for the time being, stop and focus on other areas where you can make an impact and bring in revenue. If your entire business is sinking with the current landscape, you may need to completely pivot.
For example, Ford Motors makes vehicles. But during the coronavirus, they knew people wouldn’t be looking to spend thousands of dollars on a new vehicle. They decided to pivot and are making ventilators, respirators and face masks during this time.
Sales Strategies That Can Help Save Your Business
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Sit down with your sales team and come up with some sales strategies the team can use to pick up the phone or send out an email to continue making sales.
Some sales are better than no sales during a crisis. Some sales strategies to consider include implementing payment plans, discounts or low-interest rates on your product or services. You could even start a loyalty program. Try reaching out to customers who need help or prospects who need your product or service and tell them there’s no down payment or their first payment will be in three months (interest-free) to help them out.
It’s time to get creative and figure out what you are willing to do so that not only your business survives, but you show compassion and empathy for others.
Helpful Marketing Strategies to Continue Building Your Brand
As mentioned earlier, with more people being confined to their homes during a crisis, content becomes increasingly in demand. YouTube, blogs and social media are being flooded with eyeballs — eyeballs that could be put on businesses like yours if you are leveraging these platforms.
Now is a great time to implement marketing strategies like creating a blog on your website to bring in traffic to convert sales. You could start a YouTube channel and put out helpful content (and you can monetize your YouTube channel as well if you have over 1,000 subscribers).
And don’t forget about the power of social media. Where else can you get in front of thousands to millions of people and promote your brand for free? Start posting on all the social media platforms where your customers live and engage, and begin building a following and community around your brand.
Not every business will survive a crisis, but when you plan ahead and can implement strategies quickly, those rainy days will eventually become filled with sunshine and normalcy will return. Weather the storm and you have a better chance at saving your business.
Should you ever need help or have questions regarding your business or entity, you can always ask your question on the Incfile Help Center to get instant and immediate answers at your fingertips. And to save money during these times, avoid tax blunders by seeking professional help so you can focus on your sales and marketing efforts.