Game of Groans: Part 1 of 3
7 Minute Read
As the adage goes, “The truth shall set you free.”
In this 3 part blog series, I need to be plainly honest with you.
The State Government’s pandemic response in California has been very hard on small businesses. As business owners, we sometimes find solace in knowing that we are not alone and that others are facing the same problems, fears, uncertainties, and anger. But if you want to actually save your business, the time for grumbling is over and the time for lacing up your running shoes to discover the way forward is now.
Through the last 9 months, our business brokerage San Jose CA office has learned much about how COVID affects our small business owner clients, how people are responding, and what key principals are emerging as the most valuable things to keep a business moving forward.
As you read this mini-series of articles, I will do my best to describe 6 things that I believe you need to do right away in order to keep going and evolve with the times.
Whether the COVID-19 response lasts for years, or just the next month or two, there is no doubt that the current world of business has completely changed for the time being. It may return to normal soon, but right now, and for the last 9 months, it has been a whole new world. Although optimists like myself believe that an end to the pandemic crisis is coming in the near future (with all the news about successful vaccines and therapeutics,) simply waiting for the return of familiar times is a potentially fatal idea for the survival of your business.
Accept it. Then, make changes. You have worked hard to build your business, but the business you built was built for a totally different market. A new market requires a new business plan. You are once again, an entrepreneur, building your business from scratch. The good news is that you have done it before and were successful at it. Now you just have to do it again, but this time knowing that you’ve got what it takes.
Believe it or not, a Business Resilience Plan adds great value to your business. The lower the risk, the higher the demand for your business. Having proven processes in place to switch into a crisis-response mode means that an investment in your business has far less chances of failing to an investor. As trying and chaotic as these times are right now, down the road when we can return to normalcy, you will have built an absolutely essential back-up plan for your business.
Do you have a website? If not, the great news is that you have a huge opportunity that you haven’t tapped into yet and in 2020 building one on your own is easier and more self-explanatory than ever. Check out SquareSpace.com as an example to see what I mean.
If you do have a website, does it have the ability to process orders or schedule appointments? How many ways can a client who visits your site connect with you (phone, email, webform, chatbox, etc)? Is your content, at least on the landing page, updated to provide information on how you have adjusted your services so that clients know how to buy from you? Are there pictures of your inventory, meals, or any other items that customers would like to see before they buy in a traditional setting? Do you have a key phrase that you believe people search for on sites like Google and Bing that would lead them to your site? If so, put it in the content of your site everywhere. Example of a good Key Phrase: Italian Food in Alameda County. If you aren’t sure what Key Phrase to chose, open a Google search and type in different word combinations. Each time, it will give you a number of results, displayed directly beneath the search field. The Key Phrases with the most results are the most powerful ones to chose.
Are you on Social Media? If not, you are missing the places with the highest “foot traffic” anywhere. That fact goes even beyond lockdown periods. People are online. You need to be as well. And, the more you promote your website on social media, the more organic traffic your website will receive. Don’t just stop at the top 3 or 4 social media sites either. Think 10’s to hundreds of sites to create back-links to your main website. Even sites like Manta.com and Owler.com that simply give info about your business’ organization will add more links that flow to your site and improve your visibility online. Creating backlinks is the equivalent of hitting the pavement to garner awareness of your business.
Are there delivery services that you can use? Ok, yes, these can take away a chunk of money from your bottom line. Essentially you are paying a 3rd party service to deliver your goods for you in place of employing your own delivery driver. In those terms, because you don’t need to pay for the extras that you would if you had an in-house employee (such as benefits and certain taxes,) it’s a good deal to go with a contracted delivery service by comparison. However, there is another way to get to your customers if using these delivery services is not affordable for you…
Are you offering Promotional Deals for Pick-ups? “Curbside pickup” was a concept that started years before the COVID pandemic started. It was created to accommodate online shoppers who did not want to pay for shipping fees; We simply make an order online and then pick it up at a local store location while saving on time and avoiding high delivery costs. In the same way, you may need to avoid sharing your profits with a 3rd party delivery service, especially in businesses where the profit margins are already razor-thin such as restaurants. So, lets say a delivery service takes 20% or 30% of your bill. As an alternative you might do a 10% or 15% off promotion for customers who pick up their order from your business’ curb-side. In this way, you do not lose as much profit and the savings go directly to your patrons. It’s a win-win scenario.
Are you Subscribed to business advice channels on Youtube? Are you working with your business brokerage San Jose CA office for advice? Are you seeking any kind of educational sources for new and outside-of-the box ideas to make successful changes to your operations? Adapting does not mean that re-inventing the wheel is all your own responsibility. Network and subscribe to get a daily dosage of new ideas that are being implemented by other entrepreneurial minds around you.
To be Continued:
As you can imagine working with business owners on a regular basis at our business brokerage San Jose CA office for over 20 years, we not only can be a valuable resource for ideas that we’ve seen tried and tested through some of our business owner clients, but it is in fact our role in working with small business owners like yourself to set the record straight and to provide realistic paths to the success of your goals. The number one reason why businesses don’t change their operations is because it’s not easy to do so, and can be very stressful; In other words, it’s uncomfortable. The good news is that you’ve already handled the discomfort of the changed market, so now all that’s left to do is to make the changes that you need to in order to succeed right now.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series which will be released next week.
JC Myer is the Operations Manager with Sunbelt Business Brokers. He can be reached at (408) 436-1900, or at [email protected]