When things are going slow in your day to day business, and work doesn’t seem to be coming in, instead of being downcast and worrying, take it as an opportunity to focus on the core of your business and perhaps change things up.
Here are some top tips to help you shift your attention from what could be a disaster for your business, to something that could bring about changes for the better.
- Protect cashflow
In the first instance, you will need to try and mitigate the situation and prevent it from getting worse. Protect your cashflow by cutting down on costs where you can, for example, luxuries, or any extras that cost money like free food or snacks. It may sound harsh, but hopefully it will be a short term plan which all will be onboard with to keep the business going. Also, review your cash flow budgets and see what effects minor changes may have on the business, in order to form a contingency plan. You may also want to consider having a cash reserve to protect you in future situations.
- Marketing plan
Use the downtime to look at your current marketing strategy and produce content for marketing and advertising. Are there locations or audiences where you haven’t reached yet? See where you can take your marketing in order to bring in new clients and increase revenue. Use social media and events to reach a greater range of people and get their interest by teasing them about what’s coming up in your business, if you have new ventures coming soon.
- Numbers soul search
Now is the time to really dive into your books and see what’s going on. Take this time to bring your books up to scratch and crunch those numbers to see how things really are in your business. There could be costs that can be cut out, if you analyse the figures, for example, if you could switch suppliers for certain services. You may also want to enlist the help of your accountant to sit down with you and review your business.
- Get paid and chase up unpaid invoices.
If things are tight as a result of the downtime in the business, it’s time to improve your cash flow fast by chasing those who owe you money. If there are clients who regularly pay late, look into that and see what’s going on. Maybe a small discount offered to those who pay early, might just do the trick to prevent late payments in future!
- Open communication with stakeholders
Being honest with suppliers and customers is very important. It is likely that the downturn in your business will affect them and they will want reassurances on how you aim to deal with the current situation. If you have loans or suppliers that need to be paid, see if you can renegotiate the payment plans. You may even want to ask the Landlord to help you by agreeing to rent payment extensions.
- Look after your employees
Whilst things are quieter, take time to focus on your staff. Do they want to go on any training, are they happy doing what they are doing or would they relish the opportunity for some development? Schedule in some one-to-one time as well as team meetings and ask staff how they are feeling in your business and whether they have any ideas about how the business should be heading – you never know, they may come up with some novel ideas that takes your business to the next level! Show some appreciation of their work and efforts and make them feel understood and appreciated.
You may also want to consider training existing staff with tasks that they don’t usually do, so that they are better equipped to help out in the business if colleagues are absent.
- Business leads
This is the perfect time to give existing clients some attention and increase customer loyalty. Meet with your clients and talk to them about how they are and perhaps get their feedback on their interactions with your business. Are they happy? What would make them happier? At the same time, you should put out some feelers and look for leads to see if you can acquire new clients, for example by attending networking events and using social media to find new clients. Perhaps even reconnect with past clients and see where they are and if now is the time for them to come back to you. With the luxury of time, you can meet people face to face, or communicate via phone calls or through email. It’s entirely up to you how much time you want to give this aspect of your focus.
- Thoughts for expansion
Having time on your hands as a business owner means you can look at your business and think about where it is going and where it can grow and what isn’t doing so well. Think about the talent and skills you have within the business and how best to use them. Are some aspects of your business more profitable than others, and is it worth focussing on and developing these? Or maybe you could really branch out and launch a second business which may even be in a different industry.
You may not be the only one feeling the pinch. Your clients may also be facing a downturn in business. This could be the time where you lend a hand. Offer extended credit terms to customers (if you can) to increase goodwill.
- Fixing those niggling issues
There may be things bugging you within your day to day business that you haven’t had the chance to get to, but now’s the chance! When you are less busy you can finally get round to the minor things that were ticking along, but could do with a bit of updating. For example, your shop front or your website.
- Check out the competition
Now you have a bit of time on your hands, look around and see what your competitors are doing and if they are also affected by the downtime. Are they doing anything differently? Check what they are charging. If they are charging more, then you can draw in potential new clients by telling them what great value your service costs, compared to others.
If you are a business that sells products, identify old and out of season stock, and think about marketing them in a Flash Sale. This will mean reducing your margins, but it may also get customers in who would otherwise have walked past who may purchase additional full price items not in the sale.
Keep an eye on what’s going on and re-evaluate your situation in line with changes that are going on. Keep staff informed as well. They could be worried about their job and what the downtime means for them so reduce their anxiety and ensure they are focussed on their work, share with them what’s going on and any changes are likely to happen as a result.
- Focus on yourself
Running a business takes a lot of time and energy and sometimes you can be working days, nights and weekends to make your business a success. While things are quiet, how about focussing on yourself and your family. Keeping yourself happy and refreshed will make a whole lot of difference to the productivity of your work, rather than being a burnt out, overworked stressed version of yourself! Maybe you can learn a new skill whether it be non work related and something for your personal well being, or even something that could benefit your business.
- Be ready for what’s coming
Following the downturn there will surely be an upturn so make sure you are ready for this. Plan ahead so that when this happens, staff and equipment are in place ready to get stuck in.
- Evaluation and moving forward
Once things have returned to normal and the business is back on track, review and learn from the situation. How did you deal with everything at the time and in hindsight, were there better ways to have moved forward? Put a plan in place to be prepared for the next time business is affected, and regularly review it to ensure that it stays relevant as time goes on.
To learn more about Xero and Workflow Max contact us for a free demo here: https://alphapartners.co/contact/
This article is written in general terms and therefore cannot be relied on to cover specific situations; application of the principles set out will depend upon the particular circumstances involved and we recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of its contents.