It’s hitting us now. So while you are waiting to see if you get a stimulus check from the SBA, there are some things you need to be doing no matter the answer to the stimulus money. I have been on a dozen webinars about managing this crisis for leaders. I have facilitated numerous free strategy sessions with my clients and entrepreneurs in my networks and communities about survival strategies for COVID 19. This is not a time to be optimistic with your projections. The short view for businesses in this crisis is 12-18 month, minimum. Some are saying recovery will take 24 months. The idea is to survive. So what strategies can you employ now in support of your survival and that will fill your sales pipeline and set you up for success in the aftermath. Based on my scanning and what I have been hearing from experts, here is our list of things to consider doing as you strategize for your business survival and beyond.
- Extend your runway as long as possible.
- Hold weekly strategy sessions with your team.
- Communicate often to all stakeholders.
- Keep building your sales pipeline at the top of the funnel.
- Do a deep dive on your value proposition and get creative with your offers.
So what does this mean in practice.
- Extend your runway as long as possible.
Your runway is the length of time you can operate your business without any added cash or new sales. How many weeks or days of operations do you have available given your current situation? The ways you extend your runway:
- Make deep cuts in spending NOW don’t wait. It will get worse before it gets better. This may mean renegotiate all terms and agreements including your landlord to your employees and contractors to reduce or delay your expenses.
- Double and triple confirm clients, timelines, payments, contracts that are already in place.
- Look at your personal finances and get clear on your barebones needs so you can make sure you and your family are financially stable. Can you work without a salary or owners draw? If so, for how long?
- Look at your available credit – draw it down lines of credit into your cash accounts immediately so you have that cash on hand. You can always negotiate terms with your lender after the fact. Get that cash in your account so it can be used as needed, over time.
- Make the hard decisions NOW about staffing. Don’t keep your people in limbo. Be honest and transparent with them. If not, they will make other arrangement. A fellow business owner came into his office to find his staff laid themselves off because they could make more money on unemployment. If you are applying for the Payroll Protection Program loans, be sure to look at the fine print before you fire or lay-off employees. Some loans require you keep employees on payroll even after the loan is used, so be sure you have the capacity to do that upfront. If not, don’t just prolong the inevitable. Check SBA.gov for the latest guidance.
2. Hold weekly strategy sessions with your team.
Things are evolving and changing daily. Pull your team together to meet regularly at least weekly. You want to make these meetings open to non-management staff and contractors so they can bring their ideas and information to the table. Their participation will also help them understand the process and how decisions are being made. If you are not ready to hear other ideas, if you are in a command and control mindset, don’t include others. Whatever your process, be transparent or employees will feel like they have been betrayal and trust will be destroyed. You can’t recover from that.
3. Communicate often to all stakeholders.
Communicate regularly to staff, contractors, suppliers and clients so they are informed about what you are thinking, the issues you are struggling with and the actions you are taking. In uncertain times, if you don’t tell people what you are doing they will assume the worst.
4. Keep building your sales pipeline at the top of the funnel.
These are uncertain times. Everything you thought you had confirmed on the sales side is subject to change or be cancelled depending on the work, the industry, shelter in place orders, the situation of that client, if people are ill, so many variables. Call your client regularly. Double and triple confirm agreements. Be proactive in renegotiating terms, agreements, etc. to fit their needs and situations and to hold on to your revenue by offering additional value and/or flexibility.
We have been asking “How can we serve our clients and potential clients?” Our mantra for April and May has been “serve others” as we really moved in compassion and solidarity with all that people were/are facing.
Take advantage of the opportunity to create new offers of high value to your customers that you are uniquely able to execute to support existing and potential clients at this time. This allows you to stay top of mind, add value, build loyalty, and add to the top of your pipeline.
5. Do a deep dive on your value proposition and get creative with your offers.
This great pause or slow down presents the opportunity to assess and go deeper into your ideal client and value proposition giving you new levels of clarity. This will dramatically support your brand, your marketing and your strategy moving forward. Combined with your innovative thinking about where your ideal client will be on the other side of the pandemic, you have the opportunity to think through what they will need or want as it relates to your industry. This is getting the jump on the jump.
I would love to hear what you are doing that is working to keep your businesses surviving through this crisis.
If you are struggling, you don’t have to sit alone trying to figure out your next move. Use this link to schedule your free strategy session and get some support thinking through what you need to do to survive and thrive.