Help your business succeed during lockdown:
For those who are unaware, greater Sydney is currently in another lockdown until at least the 9th of July 2021. This week Nathan lets us in on his five tips he believes will help you make the most of lockdown as a small business owner.
The reality is that for some business, they will come to a grinding holt and for others, business may dramatically slow down during this period.
Tip 1: Have a Vision
It’s important before starting your business you set up your vision, document it and work through what it looks like. It’s also important to note that it’s not set in concrete, it will evolve and change. Its normal and important to periodically come back to your vision, to re-explore if it is still relevant or if the vision has changed. Once you’ve worked through what your business vision is, it’s time to create a vision statement.
What is a vision statement? A vision statement is an inspirational statement that embodies idealistic and emotional thoughts, that will lead the business towards where they want to be or working towards. Vision is the make and model of the car, and it is the destination to which you drive it.
Creating a vision should be a fun process, where you can let your imagination go wild, remove the fear of those who may judge and ultimately help your dreams become a reality.
Tips for creating your vision, think about:
- Be emotive, make sure your vision connects and resonates with you. It needs to be emotionally charged and you need to resonate with it.
- What does year 1, 5 and 10 look like in the future – set the direction of your vision.
- A real vision will depict a desirable image of the future.
- A vision is not fixed, it will evolve and change over time.
- Your vision should create value for the community as a whole, remove any personal benefit and think about how your vision will improve someone’s life. It should be an improvement on the current situation.
Lastly, be sure to communicate the vision to all your staff members. You might even include Key Staff Members in the process of creating and documenting the vision.
Tip 2: New financial year, time for a new Budget
Regardless if you’re in lockdown or not, every business should have a plan of what sales and expenses they budget for. Budgeting might be foreign to your business and might be something you have never thought about, which is almost the same as you walking around with a blind fold over your eyes.
A budget is all about planning for the short-term future (ie a 12 month period usually), setting sales objectives and making sure you don’t spend more than what your business can afford.
Successful businesses allocate time to creating and preparing a business plans, and a budget is just one of them. Budgeting also should identify more than just sales figures and how much you’re going to spend on day-to-day expenses. Think about capital items, will you need to adjust your cashflow in the event that a big capital outlay for replacement of plant and machinery.
In summary, a budget is a plan to:
- Monitor the inflow and outflow of cash, usually sales and expenses.
- Making sure the business can continue to fund its commitments, for example loan repayments.
- Enable the business to make financial decisions and any goals.
Have enough cash to fund all business activities and enough surplus for any unexpected expenses (such as equipment upgrades)
Most accounting software, like Xero, has the ability to help you create a budget and also compare your actual results to the budget.
Tip 3: Get Educated
Reading autobiographies or ‘how to’ books on and from well-respected authors is a good way to get inspired and to implement changes that will help improve your business. With all the spare time we gain during a lockdown, it the perfect time to get educated on things you normally wouldn’t have time to do. In addition, it can also help you create or maintain positive thoughts and actions.
If you are the type of person who dislikes reading, I strongly urge you to look at audio books, where the book is narrated for you. Audio books are good option also for those who are time poor and want to incorporate a book into an everyday activity, such as commuting to work or when exercising.
Other forms of education include Podcasts and You Tube videos, and the best part is most of the content out there is free to view or listen to.
Here are some titles of Books we’d recommend:
- Losing My Virginity: Richard Branson (Autobiography).
- Entrepreneurial Leap, by Gino Wickman.
- Profit First, by Mike Michalowicz.
- Traction, by Gino Wickman.
Podcasts and You Tube channels we recommend:
- Leadership Unlocked, with Craig Bulmer and Human Interactions Australia
- Daniel Tolson, Accelerate and Multiply (on you tube https://www.youtube.com/c/DanielTolsonBusinessCoach/videos )
Tip 4: Advertise, let the world know what you are doing
The worst thing you can do (especially during a lockdown) is staying silent. Communicate with all of your stakeholders (customers, staff, suppliers, referral partners) about what it is that you’re doing.
If your business has been affected by this lockdown in terms of sales or services, it is not the time to back off and take lockdown as an excuse to do nothing. This is also a great opportunity and time to create or review a marketing and advertising strategy. Take this time off as an opportunity to work on aspect of your small business that may be neglected during a normal working week.
You need to advertise, which simply another way of communicating with your target audience. Use social media or other advertising platforms to tell the world about what your business is doing, how your making changes, how your service or product is going to solve your customers problems. Staying active on social media is also another way to stay relevant and remind your customers there is still a heartbeat, even if your business has come to a holt during this time.
Tip 5: keep on top of your mental health… and don’t forget your staff
As seen in the last lockdown, isolation for many individuals can be detrimental to mental health. Take this time to not only check on yourself but also your employees.
This is a stressful time for all, especially as COVID cases increase these circumstances can cause higher levels of stress and anxiety, especially for many business owners. As new restrictions are being implement throughout greater Sydney especially the stay-at-home lockdown order, this interruption for many can have an effect on individual’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods.
RU OK has published on their website a few simple steps when talking to a staff member who’s not OK. When getting ready to ask, you need to:
- Be ready: make sure you yourself is in a good headspace, are willing to genuinely listen and have enough time to listen.
- Be prepared: You won’t have all the answers, and that’s ok, but one of the most important thinks you can do is listening. Also be prepared that the conversation may get personal, with your staff member getting emotional, embarrassed or upset.
- Pick your moment: It’s important that you keep such a conversation private and informal, so don’t ask questions in a group setting.
- Start a conversation: Be relaxed and ask “Are You OK?”. Simple questions to open the conversation include “How you going”, “What’s been happening” or “I’ve noticed that you’re not quite yourself lately. How are you travelling?”
- Listen to the conversation, take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation. Encourage them to explain how they feel and if they get upset, don’t take it personally.
- Encourage action, ask them what they think would be a good step and suggest that a good option is to speak to their doctor, family or a trusted person.
- Finally, check in with your staff member and find out how they went, the course of action they took and ask if there is any additional support you can provide.