As business owners we try to be ready for any eventuality, but even the most prepared and organized among us couldn't have predicted the situation we find ourselves in right now. With all of our lives turned upside-down and the economy reeling, the Covid-19 crisis has taken us all by surprise and left us wondering what we can do to make sure our businesses survive. Throughout this time of uncertainty, it's important to pause, take a breath, and then get back to work with these suggestions in mind.
1. Read the room. You've probably seen a number of jokes, memes, and other ways that people are using humor as a coping mechanism at this time. While that sort of thing might be okay for a personal social media account, on a business page it would be outrageously insensitive. Even if your brand messaging is usually fun, energetic, or irreverent, remember that people are struggling in a number of ways right now, so it's time to tone it down and be mindful of your customers' concerns and losses.
2. Put people first. Your business would not have made it in the first place without customers, and now is the time when those customers are feeling the same uncertainty that you are, so it's prudent to take a step back and ask yourself what you can do to be comforting, reassuring, and supportive at this time. You don't necessarily have to write epic essays of inspiration and hope, but at least be clear that you have your priorities straight and that your company is ready to help.
3. That said... don't forget what business is. In order for your business to be able to help others, it has to continue to exist, and that means you do still need to be concerned about revenue on a basic level. Although it's important to tread carefully, you absolutely must find ways to keep some sales rolling in, so it's essential to brainstorm some ways to do that responsibly given the changing nature of the current social climate. That might mean hosting educational webinars, doing some consulting over Zoom or Skype, or creating downloadable resources that people can use while they're staying at home.
4. Be careful about paid advertising. Keep an eye on your numbers and only keep ads running for as long as the investment is providing a decent return. It might make more sense right now to focus on social media connections and organic outreach.
5. Pivot and adapt. Chances are your business does not look the same as it did a month ago, and your customer's needs are likely different, as well. Take the initiative to find out what they need from you now, what you can provide to help them, and adjust your trajectory accordingly. You may have to change direction a number of times before things start getting back to normal, so be ready to pivot at a moment's notice.
Although this situation has already been life-changing for us all, it's important to remember that the intensity of the crisis will subside over time, and there will be a point where you'll be able to take stock and start making some long-term business plans again. In the meantime, do your best to stay healthy, help others however you can, and remember that we're all in this together.