That was the final advice I got before my meeting with a senior startup CEO ended. This was not the first time I was going through this situation where the future seemed uncertain.
As I ended the conversation with our adviser, I reflected back to 2008-2009 when there was a global recession. I was working in management consulting at the time and I was heading the business development unit of one of the business arms.
Business was great until we hit the end of 2008 and we began to feel the brunt of the recession. Consulting became an option, not a necessity for clients, and my team and I were at the forefront of trying to convince people to adopt a service that had become a ‘nice to have’ for them. It was a tough period that made me almost swear off doing a service business.
The funny thing is that even though the economic climate was tough, we survived! But not without some scars. So although I feel better prepared for it this time, I have never seen such uncertainty and fear in people.
I am also leading a team through this uncertain time, so I am able to share some of our ‘battle strategies’ with you. I also want to encourage you to keep a positive attitude and believe that ‘this too shall pass’!
Extend your cash flow
We always knew that cash was king but in times like this, cash is much more important than ever if you want to increase your chances of staying alive so you can build back up again.
To extend your cash flow, you will need to re-prioritize your spending, cut off all unnecessary expenses and be focused on spending only what will bring you revenue or help to keep your business alive.
Everyone is a salesperson
I had a sober meeting with my team a few weeks ago and everyone was tasked to come up with ideas to generate revenues. Everyone has become a sales-person no matter their job title or role.
It has taken some small adjustments, but I have seen my team rally round to ensure that we all work together to get through this period. You can also assemble your own team, if you have, and let them know that the focus should be on ensuring that the business gets through this season alive!
Customization is not a sin
This is the time to give your customers options. We were designing the pricing for our upcoming online training on getting financing for your business in uncertain times, and my co-founder mentioned that we needed to give participants pricing options.
I immediately agreed because people are more selective and careful about their spending, so you need to be able to offer some sort of customized ‘packages’ to your customers to help them buy your products or services.
Some examples are:
- Offering to deliver products to their home – that is home service.
- Making a special type of product or service to satisfy your valuable customers.
Remember, the goal, at this time, is to ‘keep the business alive’.
Transparency is sexy
A lot of businesses have mastered the art of packaging and branding and this is okay in normal times. However, in times like these, ‘transparency is sexy’.
Telling your customers and audience the truth of what is going on and carrying them along will make them trust you more after this period is over. We had to live up to transparency – which is one of our core values at Owoafara – recently when our financial partners put a hold on lending to businesses. We experienced a surge of registrations on our platform and we had to share the information on all our social media platforms.
Also, instead of just keeping everyone waiting till our financial partners resume, we decided to organize an online training to prepare our clients and community to get access to financing from us and other sources in these uncertain times.
Take any help you can get
Now is not the time to act cool when you are going through challenging times. The government is offering relief or intervention funds for small businesses. This is the time to see if your business qualifies to take advantage of it.
There is no shame in trying to stay alive in these times because even large companies freely receive bail-outs from the government. So if you can as a small business, by all means, take it!
If you can convince people offering essential services to sell your products or services during this season, do it! There is no shame in the ‘staying alive game’.
As someone who has worked with small businesses for over a decade, I am passionate about helping businesses survive and thrive, no matter the season.
One of the ways our organization can help is by ensuring that we share insider information with businesses – especially if they are looking to get financing for their business – through our upcoming training, which is very affordable.