In case you weren’t aware, COVID isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
Yes, the vaccines are getting out there. And that’s great!
But it’s going to be, at the very least, several months before things begin to shift in the world toward “normal” again. Plus, your customers aren’t going to just stop requesting online, contactless, and delivery services. Those things especially are here for good! So, as I said before: COVID is here to stay for a while.
There are things you can do as an entrepreneur to move forward. And in order to do that, you need to give thought to a few different things that will set up your business for growth.
A Quick Side-Note:
Entrepreneur’s have proven once again through the past year just how resilient, incredible, powerful & amazing we are! We have proven that we embrace what makes us entrepreneurs: the ability to look at a bad situation and adapt to the opportunity in the challenge. Entrepreneurs and small businesses were hit hardest of all, and I am just constantly amazed at how I know so many small business owners who have adapted and come through stronger on the other side. So I want to encourage you before I go on: you CAN do this! This is what makes entrepreneurs a cut above the rest; your ability to adapt and find the opportunity in the bad situation.
Here’s a list of things to consider and make decisions about in order to move your business forward through COVID.
#1: Moving Forward
Ok, yes. This might seem a little repetitive because you’re reading this article to move your business forward. Hear me out.
I can’t count the number of stories I’ve heard about business owners who believe they’ll start advertising again in the fall, or that they’ll open up the store again in December. But give this some thought: we just passed the 1 year anniversary for COVID shutting everything down. The people who are building even bigger businesses (or franchises, like Disney) are the people who are already moving forward.
If you’re not getting your business back up to speed, adjusting, and coming up with new plans, you’re going to find yourself in trouble when the end of the year hits and suddenly everything is open but you don’t have a plan.
So here’s what you need to be thinking about to move your business forward now and when things open back up again:
Your Adapted Marketing Plan
Your Adapted Business Model
An adapted marketing plan may mean you’re reaching out to people on a new, COVID-based level that touches their COVID-sparked needs.
An adapted business model may mean rates slowly increasing because you’re providing greater service that is going to linger even after COVID.
Whatever it means to create adapted models for your business, do it! Sit down, consider what you need to do moving forward, and make a plan. Even the independently wealthy individuals who can just sit around and wait another 2-3 years for things to open up, are going to be left in the dust if they do that. Opportunities present themselves inside of challenges. If you want to take advantage of those opportunities, you need to start planning for the future.
#2: Decide Your Stance
It’s a major issue for Texas-based companies right now, but this applies to businesses world-wide.
Somehow, wearing masks is a political and emotional thing.
Usually, I tell all business owners to stay out of politics as a business owner:
you can’t make everyone happy.
That still applies here! You won’t make everyone happy, but you can’t straddle the fence anymore. Eventually the government will stop standing behind you, and you’ll have to be known for what you stand for (like what is happening in Texas right now).
Here’s my recommendation: make a decision based on your core values.
Do you stand for freedom from regulation? Do you stand for protection of the innocent? What do you stand for? Take a look at your core values, make your decision, and have clear reasons why you stand behind your decision.
Even further, you need to know 2 things: When and Why things might change.
The likelihood that we’ll be wearing masks forever is extremely slim, especially with a vaccine being distributed. So you need to determine at what point you might reconsider your stance. What events might happen that would lead you to know you need to re-evaluate your stance?
Life changes, so you need to be prepared and equipped with knowledge to understand how you’ll change according to the world. So you need to consider what criteria would have to be met for you to change your decision. If you’re requiring masks, what would have to happen for you to no longer require masks? And if you’re not, what would have to happen for you to change your policy and require masks?
Thinking about these things now will better equip you to deal with them in the future!
#3: Clean Up
At this point we’ve all gotten used to cleaning up.
I can’t tell you how excited my inner germaphobe is that everything is suddenly being cleaned on a much more regular basis. I love the fact that everything is sanitized between me and others, and it has nothing to do with COVID: I just love being clean! But it’s not just me.
Most customers have begun to seriously enjoy the level of sanitization that goes on, and it isn’t likely to go away any time soon. So the best thing you can do is start preparing and planning for long-term sanitization requirements. Build it into your budget, your SOPs, and your training.
Even once COVID is gone, people are going to expect sanitization. We’ve been conditioned for a year now to expect it, and that conditioning won’t go away overnight. So prepare your business for it.
#4: Build Community
The need for community is another unexpected side-effect of the pandemic that won’t be going away anytime soon.
In fact, Facebook itself sunk millions of dollars into advertising campaigns last year to promote their Facebook groups because they recognized the need. So how does this relate to business? Take a walk with me…
For the longest time, we purchased from the biggest and most well-known providers on the market. Obviously, they got big by providing quality products. But over the years, we’ve become more granular. Bigger companies have a harder time with customer service, and we want to know where we’re putting our money. People want to invest with others who understand them, and who are a part of their community.
Don’t get me wrong, chains can do this! HEB is a prime example.
For those of you who aren’t from Texas, HEB is our locally sourced supermarket all over Texas. Texans adore HEB, because HEB is more than a store. It’s a community of local people working under a chain. It’s the place to find amazing combos and coupons. And within the community of local people, they have 2 additional communities! The Coupon Deal Questers, and the Online Curbside/Delivery Customers. HEB rocks at creating a community where people feel seen.
And it’s not just coupons and curbside delivery. HEB continually gives back to their communities. If you lived through Snowpocalypse in Texas, you know that HEB was working overtime to support their local communities and find ways to help people through the worst snowstorm in recent history. The result? HEB customers know that they are supporting a chain that doesn’t just create community for them, but that sees them as real people and gives back to them. HEB buyers feel plugged in to a community of Texans who support each other.
Ultimately, HEB makes people feel heard and seen.
Don’t believe it? Look at what Clubhouse accomplished in a manner of months! They catapulted into MASSIVE use. And it’s all because they do a phenomenal job of creating and maintaining community. (whether they’ll keep up with it from here is anyone’s game, but you get my point!)
No one wants to be just another number. When you create a community of people who connect to each other and feel part of something bigger, you create an exclusive club of customers. And rather than having fewer customers, you’ll find people begging to give you money because you make people feel heard and seen.
So start creating a community for your customers; whether that’s a coupon club, a rewards club, or a facebook group.
Overall, you need to sit down and consider what it would take to move your business forward.
Right now, that means thinking of how to work around COVID long-term and taking advantage of the opportunities in the mess.
The awesome thing? You’re an entrepreneur! Which means you can do it!
About the Author:
Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!