Companies across the U.S. are faced with the need to “jump-start” their businesses following the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are 10 practical ways that every small business can use to accelerate the ramp-up!
1. Create urgency within your team
I’m not suggesting that you scare your people with “do or die” tactics. I am suggesting that you talk positively about the opportunity you have now to make your company smarter, faster, and better.
Talk about a new vision for how you want to end 2020 and where you want to take your company in 2021. Talk about how you want to re-engage your customers quickly and more effectively. Talk about how you want to strengthen your team and culture like never before.
Most importantly, keep everyone (including yourself) focused and moving!
2. Encourage your staff to share ideas
This is a great time to engage your staff in a S.W.O.T. analysis. What have been our strengths in the past? What need to become our strengths in the future? What has been our major weakness in the past? What can we do to change this in the future? What new opportunities do we have now that either didn’t exist or we didn’t see before? What is the greatest threat to us becoming a smarter, faster, better company?
Identify issues and priorities, then assign actions to everyone. This is not a “dump on the owner” time. This is a time for everyone to contribute to a better future. This is an “all-hands-on-deck” time to improve the productivity, customer service, and profitability of our company!
3. Engage your customers like never before
This is a great time to contact every past customer or client and ask:
- How has our industry fallen short in the past?
- What can our industry do to make your life better?
- What specifically can our company do to better serve you?
Keep this simple, but courageously ask for honest feedback. Let your customers know that you are committed to becoming a better company than ever before and that you would like to serve them more and better in the future.
4. Improve your marketing message
Most small businesses give way too little time and effort in crafting a powerful marketing message. Donald Miller, in his book Building a Story Brand, gives some excellent advice on how to improve your marketing message. Make your customer the central character, the hero in your story (not yourself!) Talk about the problem and pain that your customer experiences.
Learn how to engage and empathize with your customers. Then show them how you provide a simple but effective solution to their pain. Take your time and have others who understand the story brand concept to review and critique your work. This is not easy, but you need to get it right! And you can!
5. Write a new marketing plan
Many business owners have never created a written marketing plan. You must do it now if you sincerely want to jump-start your business. A good marketing plan will have 5 key components:
- Your Ideal or Target Customer
- Your Marketing Message
- Your Marketing Channels (see “125 Ways to Market Your Business“)
- Your Marketing Budget – consider making a robust investment in your jump-start campaign
- Your Marketing Dashboard – track and measure every dollar you spend
If the idea of creating a written marketing plan is new to you, sign up for our FREE online course “Creating a Powerful Marketing Strategy.” You can complete this entire course in just over an hour! It may be the best hour you spend in preparing to jump-start your business.
6. Play sales games with your employees
If you’re serious about jump-starting your business, set some sales goals. The best way to set sales goals is to involve your team in the goal-setting process. But don’t stop there. Brainstorm some ways to make it fun! Don’t pit your employees against each other but create incentives and fun ways to engage your people and reward them for their accomplishments.
7. Cut costs and run lean to re-establish profitability
Cash is king, and profitability is a key component to creating cash. Know your numbers and track your numbers closely. Identify the reports and ratios that will enable you to track and improve profitability. Look for ways to not only increase sales but to also trim costs. Focus on both the top line and the bottom line and set goals for gross margin and net margin. Manage by the numbers!
8. Mine your data
This is a great time to review your historical financial data. What can you learn from it and where can you improve it? Also, review your customer database. Who are your best customers? What makes them the “best?” Re-engage them first. Look for ways to add more value to them. Ask them to help you “re-start” by sharing referrals with you. If you never had a customer touch system this is the time to implement one.
Also, update your prospect or target market list. Use all the information and data at your disposal to kick your business back into gear. Your data is a tremendous asset so find ways to leverage it smarter, faster, and better.
9. Say “Thank you” more often
Make it a point to demonstrate and promote an attitude of gratitude. Thank your employees more. Thank your vendors more. And especially thank your customers more. You have an opportunity to improve your business like never before. Be grateful and create a culture of gratitude.
10. Improve yourself as an owner/leader
It has been said, “the speed of the leader, the speed of the team.” If you become more intentional about growing yourself as a leader and manager, you will have more success. Don’t let yourself become complacent. Push yourself. Be a learner and find ways to learn new things about marketing, selling, customer service, operational efficiency, building a team, and leadership. This might be the time to do some self-study or possibly engage a business coach. At a minimum, be reading and learning new things so you have new ideas to consider every week.
There is no better time than today to jump-start your business.
Take action on these 10 recommendations and you will see exponential results. Don’t wait. Don’t ease in. Jump-start today!