We don’t need to tell you that we’re entering into a very worrying time for businesses. You’re already likely to be feeling anxious about the impact the coronavirus outbreak is going to have on the economy – so we’re not going to dwell on the subject.
What we are going to do is help you fill any gaps in your schedule with practical, beneficial business tasks that will strengthen your company in the longer term and see you emerge from this difficult time with a clearer purpose and a better proposition.
Because we will get through this – and when we do, we need to be ready to hit the ground running.
Many business owners and entrepreneurs are soon going to find themselves with more hours in the day as the world works out how to navigate through the crisis. It’s concerning – especially for micro organisations and sole traders who need to work to earn – but at the time of writing, it’s inevitable.
What you choose to do during this period of uncertainty will say a lot about you. You could fall victim to the fear, assume your business will suffer irreparable damage, and binge-watch sitcoms online for weeks on end.
Or, you could see this as a brilliant time to tie up loose ends, optimise your systems and processes, and set yourself up so you’re firing on all cylinders when things return to some sort of normal.
Get in the zone
If you’re finding it hard to stay positive – or you know you’re distracted easily! – it’s time to transform your office, spare bedroom or dining table into a workspace that motivates and inspires you. This is especially important if you’re having to set up a temporary base while you’re self-isolating or WFH.
1. Organise yourself!
Staying on top of admin often goes out the window during busy periods. But now’s the time to bin anything you don’t need, file anything that you might need, and neaten up all those folders and files.
If your home office resembles a storeroom, make sure you consciously relocate anything that’s going to frustrate, annoy or distract you. Clearing your space may take a bit of time, but we promise it’ll be worth it in the long run!
3. Pin up your list or workflow
Whether you use Blu Tack, a corkboard or you have a snazzy looking whiteboard to hand, make sure you have some means of displaying your to-do list and work/life goals. If you prefer to keep tabs on your progress on-screen, try a task management system like Asana, Trello or Monday, or a CRM platform like Insightly (one of our old, trusted favourites).
Rediscover what you’re all about
If you’ve been in business for a while, when was the last time you really thought about what you’re offering, and why? Things change over time, and now is the best time to check in with your company’s sense of self.
4. Remember who you’re speaking to
Create a picture of your ideal client, then turn this into a buyer persona that can be used to guide your marketing strategy moving forwards.
Not sure what a buyer persona is? Stumped as to what traits will define them? This blog from Hyped Marketing will provide you with an easy to digest introduction to developing customer avatars.
5. Update your mission statement / vision statement
If it’s been a long time since you dug out these powerful pieces of copy, you may find that your objectives have changed, or you want your future to look different to how you first envisioned. That’s alright – just make sure you change your mission and vision statements to reflect your new business stance.
Stuck for inspiration? Hubspot has put together a list of some of the most impactful statements from businesses around the world. Check it out here.
6. Check in with your goals
Ask yourself what you want to achieve on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. Your goals can be based purely on financial achievements – eg, “I want to turn over X amount of profit in X number of months” – or refer to client retention targets, sales figures or even personal and professional development objectives.
Become the best version of you
You are your own brand, so you need to invest in yourself as well as your business. Focus on stretching your brain and exploring the things that energize and excite you.
7. Upskill online
Been meaning to buy an online course? Now’s the time to check in to that training programme you’ve had your eye on for months!
Use this time to brush up on your skills and add new strings to your bow. Browse a platform like Udemy for courses on a wide range of topics, or search Google for industry-specific opportunities.
8. Read a business book with a title that interests you
You’ve probably been given tonnes of book recommendations over the years, yet never had the time to read them. Pick a topic that resonates with you, find an author who interests you, and immerse yourself in someone else’s world for a few hours.
9. Schedule chats and calls with peers who you can learn from
Face-to-face meetings are going to be off the table for a while, but you can still be sociable, albeit from a distance. Go through your contacts and pick up comms with the people in your life who inspire you and help you grow. Better still, reconnect with an old colleague or industry peer who may be able to teach you something new.
Take steps now to make life easier later
A little organisation now could make all the difference further down the line – especially when it comes to your marketing strategy.
10. Update your website’s content
If you’ve made tweaks to your mission statement, vision statement and perhaps even your overall business proposition, you’ll need to make sure you update the content on your website’s pages to reflect these changes.
Of course, we’d always recommend outsourcing this important task to the web copywriters here at Indy. It’s what we do day in, day out, and we know what works and what doesn’t. Discover how our SEO copywriting service works, and get to know our web copy creation process.
11. Increase your understanding of SEO
Even SEO is something that affects every online business, many people still don’t feel confident in their search engine marketing knowledge. If you’ve ever wondered what SEO is, how it works, and how you can use it to boost your company’s presence, do some research into the theory and start thinking of ways you can implement best practices.
There’s a lot of conflicting information around SEO on the web, so stick to trusted sources. Our favourites are Search Engine Journal and Neil Patel’s blog. AHRefs also has some great actionable advice. Alternatively, drop us a message – we have many years’ experience in onsite and offsite SEO and we’re always happy to share ideas and advice. We can even arrange virtual training sessions for you.
12. Pre-write your blog content
You know you should be blogging, but you’re always too busy with clients to sit down and put together something of value. So, if work is quiet, focus on developing a blogging strategy that’s packed full of interesting insights that will engage the people who are most likely to buy from you. Collect your thoughts on some of the most important topics in your industry at the moment, and see what your competitors are talking about, too – you may be able to come at their ideas from a different angle.
From there, you can batch-write your posts, so your output remains consistent even in busier times. It’s always good to have at least three or four blogs ‘in the bank’ at any one time! And remember, you can repurpose your blog content into infographics, podcasts, videos and all kinds of different formats.
If you’re not sure how to go about writing a brilliant blog post, check out this piece from last year.
13. Pre-schedule your social media posts
Did you know, you can use online tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule your social media content days, weeks and even months in advance? It will take a while to collect ideas, organise your strategy and come up with some creative messaging – but put in a little effort now and you’ll be sure to reap the rewards later.
If you need help developing a well-rounded social strategy, contact us. We know plenty of talented social media managers with experience in different industries.
14. Nurture relationships with your key clients and suppliers
Most of the people in your world are going to be in the same boat as you. Take the time to check in with clients, suppliers, colleagues and peers to see if there’s anything you can do to help them during this difficult time. Pick up the phone, drop them a text or organise a catch up call via Zoom or another cloud-based conferencing system.
Review the important stuff
We’re no experts on any of the below – but having been in business for a good few years now, we know how important it is to keep our ducks in a row, and you should too.
15. Bring your accounts up to date
If it’s been a while since you looked at your books, spend a few hours bringing yourself up to speed with your finances.
Your accountant will thank you for your efforts when deadline days loom, and you’ll have a better understanding of what you’re earning, what you’re spending, and what your immediate financial future looks like. If you’re still recording everything manually, you may want to look into a time-saving accounting tool like Quickbooks or Xero.
If you’re confused, underwhelmed or concerned about anything, be sure to schedule in a phone-based review with your accountant.
*You can avoid last-minute panics by familiarising yourself with all the important tax deadlines in 2020.
16. Cancel any unnecessary subscriptions
It’s easy to lose track of direct debits and standing orders – but do you really need that software you signed up for two years ago, or that networking subscription you never actually use? Spring-clean your subscription list and find ways to save money!
17. Check your insurance policies
We can’t tell you whether your current policy offers you the level of cover you need to see you through a crisis. But we can tell you to review all your documentation as soon as possible and get in touch with your broker if you have any concerns or you feel your policy needs to be upgraded.
It’s easy to avoid scrutinising the fine print when you’re managing staff, juggling clients and darting between meetings – but a little due diligence now could save you a great deal of time and money if the worst should happen. This applies to everything from your public liability and professional indemnity policies through to your content, building and key person insurance.
Got any more advice for fellow business owners who may be struggling during the coronavirus crisis? Share it with us on Twitter: @IndyConsultancy