I had an email from David Hieatt from the Do Lectures the other week that simply said – “Don’t waste the recession.” and it really struck a chord. So often when I have read business stuff, I have learned about those businesses that either set up successfully in recessions or got better through the adversity of going through one.
So, here we are in Autumn of 2022 and facing what certainly feels like a retraction of the economy. It may not be labelled as such, but we can feel that there is less spending, less hope & lots and lots of negative press about failing business.
I would like to approach this from a new perspective.
It’s easy to run a business when life is good and when there’s lots of money sloshing about. We can happily do what we do, know that people have the money to spend on it and if we’re not careful, we can even become a little too comfortable and even complacent.
Great business is done when we are laser focussed on what our value is to our customers and when we are super focussed on those customers – understanding exactly what they want and when they want it. Great business is when we keep a very keen eye on the bottom line and when we are highly sensitive to our costs, suppliers, profit margins etc. Great business happens when we are committed to training our staff within an inch so that each and every precious customer is cared for in the way we want.
It seems clear that there are great opportunities for us to use this moment to become laser focussed on all areas of our businesses so that we can not only ride out the storm but, better still, create a better and brighter future.
So in the spirit of this positivity, I have shared some things we can do to ensure we're all making the most of this recession/constriction/tricky times:
Start with the heart of your business...and I mean the heart. Take a moment to revisit what is magical, heartfelt and at the core of what your customers love most about your business. This might be you, your product, the way you take care, your service delivery, your Insta messages etc. Noting them down is not only uplifting and affirming, but is the basis of all your future business decisions. Notice what is KEY in your business that you mustn't let slide. Better still, notice how you can put this magic at the forefront of your website. content, voice, display, packaging etc. How could you bring that magic to the very front of all you do?
Think about what might be surplus. Take a long hard look at the the things that you offer or do for customers that doesn't have the same shine. Perhaps you work really hard on one area of the business or offer products that never really sell or don't get a mention. Sometimes, the way to make a business stronger is to do less. Cutting back on, or cutting out products and services may save you costs, while allowing you to focus on the magic. This streamlining of your offer will also help your audiences become less confused and laser focussed back on what you do best.
Those customers - how well do you know them? Think of your customers like any relationship. When life is easy, we can pootle along without investing lots of time or energy. We might even take relationships for granted. But when life is tougher, we take time to really invest in what's important - extra time, more listening, better conversations, more open dialogue. Choose this time to shine a light on your people and understand more and meet them where they are. You could do a survey, do an Insta live, ask in your content, listen harder and notice. Like in all relationships, all anyone wants is to feel special, noticed, understood and cared for. Think about ways that you can do this even better than you do now.
Get your microscope out. There are lots of minute details in our businesses that we don't take a daily look at. Costs, platforms we pay for, margins taken from 3rd party platforms, costs of raw ingredients etc. Make a chart of all the key things that are either fluctuating or essential to your business. Book time every week to keep a keen eye on how it's going. This will hopefully help you feel like you're in the driving seat more and have better control over your business.
Less might be more. Remember that it's easier to up sell to existing fans and customers than it is to keep trying to find more and more new customers. Are there ways in which you can encourage customers to stay connected to your brand for longer with more potential to repeat buy or spend a little more? You might want to revisit your email marketing strategy, building a super fan club for your brand where they feel special and get your only offers. You may want to start a loyalty scheme or a referral scheme so that your customers who love you do your marketing for you. Perhaps you could create a subscription with some of your offers e.g. a monthly amount for ongoing services or regular products. This might steady your income while being cost effective and convenient to your customers.
Innovate. Lateral and creative thinking is our best friend in business. Never say never to new ideas or innovations that could take your business in a new direction, build more resilience into your business or might find you a whole new customer segment. You might want to invest now in making the internal operations in your business better (I am investing now in a new website for example) which might streamline, cut costs and save time. You may want to try out that idea that's been floating about for ever but you didn't pursue - all the while implementing point 3 above. Perhaps what you need is a new accreditation- something you do but don't get credit for. This might a green/eco scheme, an extra qualification, a new skill to share etc.
Share and share again. The value of being part of a community is to share your experiences with others. You are not only paying It forward in terms of sharing your wisdom, but you will be reminded again that you're not alone. Isolation in micro business is a killer. No one has their best ideas, most creative thoughts or finds solutions by only sitting alone with them. Reach out, join our mentoring sessions, host a Meet Up and more.