How to keep working on your business when business has completely stopped

All over the world people are grappling with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many small businesses and solopreneurs, that has included watching their workload screech to a halt almost overnight.

If you’re one of those for whom the “new normal” effectively means “no clients,” don’t despair. There are still several ways for you to keep working on your business even when your business has completely stopped.

You can seek financial support

Many micro-businesses were struggling to maintain a monthly income before the coronavirus hit.  Now that their businesses have completely stopped, cash flow is their most pressing problem.

So, first things first, see where financial savings can be made. Review all regular outgoing expenses. Check maintenance costs (for your website as well as office space), and list all supplies you might not need now. And, as the saying goes: if in doubt, do without!  

Additionally, check to see what financial support is available to you as a freelancer or small business owner.

Practically all countries affected by the coronavirus have organised financial support packages for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

If you need financial aid but don’t know what’s available in your own country or city, go online now and do the research. Check out government websites and banks, or ask colleagues and industry contacts for details or advice. Many banks throughout Europe are providing special offers and interest-free loans to their business customers. 

Also, remember to powwow with suppliers or any investors you have to put safeguards in place that will prevent you from falling into debt with them during the coming months.   

You can innovate

Several small businesses are innovating too. This may mean moving services from in-person to online, or offering products and digital courses for free or at a reduced rate.

Others have completely pivoted to meet the demands of the day: Food producers have become food delivery companies, fashion designers have become facemask designers, and booksellers have become book clubs.

Study your offer or service to see if there’s any way you can put something out there that will benefit your business – and serve your community.

Examples may include free product or service trials, online meet-ups, digital events, discounted e-books, video series’, or even tips and tricks to help colleagues or customers deal with the daily stress of the pandemic.

Chances are, you have a skill or by-product from your current business that you can use both to help customers right now and continue building your business profile even while you’re not making money.

You can keep talking to customers

Just because nobody’s buying doesn’t mean you have to shut up shop completely. Instead, continue communicating with your customer-base.

Think of some ways you can still connect with people sofa-to-sofa. Webinars, Facebook Live videos and virtual conferencing tools like Zoom and Houseparty are just some of the available choices.

And while the only news in town may be the coronavirus, you don’t have to hone in on that specifically. Instead, host chats or videos that will benefit your business and overall marketing strategy once the COVID-19 has been kicked to the curb.

Remember too that even while you’re running a company you’re still part of a community.

So keep using your social media platforms to reach out to your customer-base, or speak with your clients directly. Ask them how you can serve, what they might need, or even just help them keep calm and carry on.

Words of wisdom, funny memes and advice and encouragement from your area of expertise may be more appreciated than you realise. And remind customers that you’re still out there.

You can use downtime as “think time”

Living in lockdown has radically changed our daily routines. But use any spare time you have to think about developing new products and procedures you haven’t previously had time for.

Just because you have no paying customers now doesn’t mean you won’t have them in the future.

So, even if life at home is hectic – which is particularly likely if you’re living with dependents – insist on carving out some downtime that you can use as “think time”, and then plan for a recovery.

Ask yourself:

  • What can you do to power your business up again once the worst of the pandemic is over?
  • Are there any new products or services you can roll out that you hadn’t time to do before?
  • What will your marketing strategy be?
  • What new procedures can you put in place in the event of a future COVID-19 breakout?

You can get busy in the back office

Every small business or solopreneur has a to-do-list of tasks they keep putting off till tomorrow.

These are usually back office or administrative functions that are pushed aside for more pressing duties such as sales and marketing. But now is the time to finally scratch these tiny itches.

For example, perhaps there’s some content or design elements on your website that you’ve been intending to update for months (or even years!). Roll up your sleeves and get to it.

Do you have so many files and documents on your laptop screen that it actually looks like crazy pavings? Go full-out Marie Kondo on it and start decluttering.

Organise your accounts and client lists. You may hate doing these tasks but, believe me, you’ll thank yourself later. Because by the time you’re back breathing fresh air, your business will be fully streamlined and only focused on what will continue to keep it alive – earning clients and making money.

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Gabrielle Collard

I’m a certified coach from London, Marketing Consultant and founder of The Coach Space. For enquiries email gabrielle@thecoachspace.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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