The stringent measures implemented to contain the Coronavirus pandemic has affected many businesses. Startups are the worst hit because they lack the coping mechanism established businesses have. As the situation worsens, consumers are increasingly losing confidence, and sales are declining steadily. As an entrepreneur, your business can only survive if you strategically adapt to the new normal. If you are feeling the impact of the pandemic, here actions you can take to help your startup survive hard economic times.
1. Evaluate Your Marketing Strategy
During hard times, small businesses are prone to cut down marketing costs to reduce business expenses. But this is a wrong move. This is the time you need to market more and let your potential customers know that you are still open for business. So set a budget for marketing.
Consumers’ buying behaviors are changing, and your business must put this into consideration. Ensure you are using marketing strategies that reach your customers. To do this, analyze the current consumer buying behavior and implement marketing strategies that get your name in front of your audience.
Here are some marketing strategies you can adopt during these hard economic times.
- Use social media marketing tools effectively. On average, people spend 24 hours per week online. It is important to know where your customers are spending time and tailor your marketing to target them on those social media platforms. Design marketing campaigns that increase interest and push customers to visit your website.
- Optimize your website for search and produce SEO content so that your customers can find you on the first page of Google.
- Create unique programs to increase customer loyalty. You can have discount coupons, referral bonuses, or sales offers.
- You can also integrate other marketing strategies, like email marketing.
- Send out a press release to the local news when you make an important step. This helps build trust with your customers and investors.
- Print brochures and business cards that you can give out to your customers during delivery or when shipping products.
- Look for creative ways to reach your target audience. You can put an ad on a local newspaper or publication.
2. Focus on Your Competitors
The market is increasingly becoming competitive. The products and services you are offering are probably offered by a dozen other companies. Therefore, it is important to know what your competitors are doing.
Check out the strategies your competitors are using to market. Analyze how they have positioned their products or services. Note what they are doing differently. Then sieve what works and blend it with your own to have a competitive edge. Anticipate your competitors’ reactions and how it will affect your business and develop mitigation measures beforehand.
As a startup, it is crucial to be vigilant. Therefore, consider emerging trends because a small mishap can be your undoing.
3. Analyze Your Current Financial Situation
Calculate your cash reserve and have a projection of how long it can sustain your business if worst comes to worst. Next, make a sales projection to see if the cash flow will take care of the business expenses in the coming months.
Lastly, do the math of the amount you must make monthly to take care of the fixed expenses. This analysis will help you manage your finances better and make the necessary adjustments in your budget.
In the subsequent months, monitor your finances by doing the following:
- Check your budget every month. Compare your income versus expenses. Your income should exceed your expenses.
- Evaluate your products to find out what’s selling and what isn’t. You want to put more effort into promoting what’s already working.
- Keep watch of debtors. You must follow-up on those that are late on a payment.
- Review the expenses and see what you can minimize or do without. Check your memberships, phone plans, and any unnecessary costs. Ensure you keep your expenses as low as possible.
- If you have a loan, talk to your bank and see if you can lower the interest. If you can pay in full, the better.
4. Improve Customer Service
Your customers are the main stakeholders of your business. So, maintain contact with them during these tough times. Let them know how your business is holding up. Be honest about your current status and solicit feedback on how they perceive the new changes.
Keep your website updated with the information a potential customer might want. Make sure you give prompt feedback to customers’ inquiries. Send or automate personalized messages to clients that purchase. You want your clients to know that you appreciate them.
Reach out to your old customers and inquire if they need your services. You can give them a catalog of what you have in store. Whatever the feedback, ensure you maintain a positive attitude.
5. Find Financing
Your startup will only survive if you have the finances to sustain it when the sales are dwindling. If you don’t have enough cash reserve to fall back to, you must look for alternative ways to secure finances. You must start your search early because most investors have stringent investing policies. The procedure may take longer than expected. So, start by talking to the existing investors. Let them know the position of the business. Since they already have shares, it will be easier for them to inject more money and salvage the situation.
You can also try new investors. Share your business model, and if they like, your business will receive the money it needs to survive this season.
6. Engage Your Employees
Talk to your employees. Let them know the challenges the business is facing. An honest conversation will help you forge the way forward. Have a brief to share everyone’s thoughts, challenges, and tentative solutions. You’ll be amazed at the creativity. It will also help you get a different perspective on the challenges and solutions that can work.
Connect extensively with stakeholders within your industry. Be intentional when interacting with others. Let them know what you offer and where they can find you. Use LinkedIn to connect with industry leaders and experts in your industry. You can establish partnerships this way and take your business to the next level. Make sure you are also providing valuable information on your social media accounts. You never know who is watching.
The economy will recover but, until then, soldier on. It won’t be easy, but you can sustain your business if you implement the right strategy.