4 Actions You Can Take While Temporarily Shut Down
It’s easy to feel powerless when your business is temporarily shut down. Fortunately, help is on the way. The recent economic stimulus package will provide needed support to small business owners until they can open their shops. But what do you do in the meantime? Focus on action you can take now. Here are four things you can do to support your business during this unprecedented time.
Offer A Value Add
Your doors may be closed now but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer customers something of value. Doing so reassures customers you’re still out there and are concerned about them in this uncertain time. Unexpected offerings like this can go a long way toward building customer loyalty.
Here’s one idea. Many of your customers are working from home while also homeschooling their children. What if you offered them an activity they can do with their kids? Think about something that’s related to your business. For example, a restaurant might send a how-to video they can follow to create a snack. A hardware store could link to a DIY project like these building ideas using Q-tips.
Ramp Up Your Networking Efforts
You might be self-isolating now but you don’t have to be alone. Take the opportunity to network with other small business owners online. You’ll get ideas, receive referrals and learn others are in the same boat.
Investigate what interest groups are available using your online platforms. For example, Business News Daily offers their top 20 list of LinkedIn groups. Or search for “small business groups” on Facebook to locate groups in that platform.
Remember, networking is an exchange of information, not a one-sided ask. That means you need to offer something of value to the other person. Maybe it’s information on stimulus loans available or an email marketing idea to connect with customers. Doing so will make the interaction seem less like you’re pumping someone for information and more like a conversation.
Take In A Webinar or Podcast
Use this time to invest in yourself. There are a number of free webinars and podcasts that could help you solve a business problem or learn a new skill. They’re on demand so you can consume them on your schedule. And podcasts offer the additional option to listen while driving or during your exercise routine.
Need some suggestions? Check out these past Wire articles for popular webinars and podcasts: Five Online Courses to Learn Social Media Marketing, 10 Must-Listen Leadership Podcasts. While you’re in the webinar mode, consider using this downtime to create your own webinar. Some businesses use them to prospect for new customers. Here’s a guide to help you get started.
Conduct Some Market Research
Use this pause in business activity to research what current and prospective customers think. For example, poll them about a new product or service you’re considering. Or gauge your customer service efforts. Many of your customers are working from home and may be less distracted, making it easier to get their attention.
While face-to-face research is out for now, there are still a number of online options. They’re low cost and you get immediate results. Perhaps the easiest option is to use existing social channels. For instance, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn give you the ability to create polling questions.
For a deeper dive, companies like Survey Monkey help you create free online surveys to 40 people (their subscription service allows you to survey larger numbers). They offer templates for different types of questions and will even tabulate/report your results.
It’s easy for things to seem out of control in these extraordinary economic times. But identifying action steps, however small, can help restore some order. Start with these ideas to keep your business poised to welcome customers back when your shutdown ends.