The current lockdown has caused many businesses to come to something of a standstill, and for every business that has seen an increase in demand, there are others for which demand and orders have slowed down. Even a slower month, regardless of the pandemic, can feel unnerving as a business owner.
Your business likely goes through these highs and lows every year, so what can you do to get ahead for the busy periods while business is slow? The work you do now is what will really help you succeed in future.
Here are some ideas for ways you can get organised and prepared for when your business re-opens.
1. Brainstorm new ideas
Now is the ideal time to spend thinking about what it is you want your business to achieve this year. Jot down your ideas – anything from new product lines and collections to new ways to organise your team. Are there other ways of making revenue right now? Is there a list of people you’d like to collaborate with? Are there any suppliers that have been catching your eye? Talk to colleagues if you can, and think about what works and what you can change.
2. Get financially organised
Are you working with an accountant? Have you done your tax return yet? Are the books up to date? Use this time to get yourself financially organised, whether that’s sorting out a tax system for the rest of the year, working out your budget to spend on marketing activities for your business, opening a pension scheme or looking into a Lifetime ISA.
3. Create a customer survey
Your business has probably changed over the last 12 months, and so will the lives of your customers. With a new audiences arriving frequently, and the tastes of your loyal customers changing, one thing that is really important and simple to do is create an annual survey. Find out what your customers are looking for, and where you can best serve them. You can even add a prize or incentive to encourage people to complete your survey.
4. Work on your SEO
Is your website SEO friendly? Making sure your SEO is up-to-date will help your customers find your website, meaning you get as much business as possible. Go through your website and make sure is it as search engine friendly as it can be, that images are up to date, and there are no broken links or dead-end pages. SEO often gets moved to the bottom of the to-do list, as more urgent things come up, but if business is slow, now is the perfect time to get it sorted.
5. Update your branding
Does your branding need a little refresh? Are your colours or logo feeling a little tired? If so, then use this time to think about some new ideas and speak to a designer – or even do it yourself – about giving your brand a facelift. It doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul, but do make sure your branding is consistent across your website, your social media channels, your paperwork, brochures etc. Read this post from interior design expert Victoria Jackson on finding your ideal client avatar
, which might be useful if you find yourself wondering who your customer is right now.
6. Plan your social media
Does your business have a presence on social media? If the answer is no, why not pick one channel that you think your customers are using, and go from there. If you are already active on social media, you could try a scheduling tool, or use the platform’s own system to schedule some posts for the next couple of months. Keep a note of the posts that get the most engagement (likes, comments, clicks), and try to post more content like that.
7. Learn a new skill
Quieter periods in business are the ideal time to learn a new skill. Do you want to work on your website skills? Photography? Or do you want to learn more about digital advertising? Now’s the time to get a head start. Look out for free courses from reputable websites to get started.
8. Get inspired
If business is slow, or you can’t work at the moment, you could use this time to read magazines, to go for a walk and listen to a podcast. While we can’t meet face-to-face, why not arrange a Zoom meeting with fellow business owners to discuss your ideas for when business picks up, to work out what new seasonal trends you’ll be honing in on, to spend time working on visual merchandising, or to spend time away from the computer and just letting your mind run wild.
The last 12 months have been a challenge for the industry, for some in terms of meeting demand, for others being unable to work at all, and everything in between. If you do find yourself in the position to spend some time regrouping and planning, doing even a couple of these activities could make all the difference when business picks up again.
This article has been adapted from a piece originally written by Victoria Jackson for our sister show, Top Drawer.