The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on businesses across Nigeria. Revenues have plunged. Many are scaling back operations. Some have laid-off staff. A significant number are maintaining their employees on a fraction of their usual salaries.
If you’re a business person, chances are you’ve been hit in some way.
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What do you do to get through these times?
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to weather the storm. We’ll be sharing them here.
1. Stay in Touch With Your Customers
If your customers aren’t sticking by you, your business won’t last very long. You depend on them for the revenues that power your enterprise. They’re the reason you have a business in the first place. Do what you can to keep them loyal.
Stay in touch with them. Be sure to send empathetic emails, messages with a tone of solidarity. Find out what they want from you, and adjust your services accordingly, if there’s been a shift in their preferences.
2. Make Changes
You may have to tweak more than just your products and services.
Examine your business structure. Does it need an overhaul? Are your processes efficient? Where’s the waste, and how do you cut down on it?
Maybe you could change your marketing strategy, and replace it with something suitable for the times. Talk about the affordability of your products. Or emphasize its durability. Zero in on the intersection between your product’s qualities and what people want, and make that your talking point.
3. Hunt for New Customers
We talked about retaining customers. How about finding new ones?
It’s difficult, isn’t it? But it’s not impossible. Many people in your target population are ditching their previous vendors and looking for alternatives that offer more value for their money. Look out for them. They could be your next set of clients.
But you won’t attract them by remaining where you are and doing things the old way (unless you have a system that’s already great for the current times). Move out of your comfort zone, offer your service, and show them why your product is better than anything they used in the past. You can convince them to become your customers.
4. Shave Costs
Scrutinize your expenses. Are there supplies you can avoid purchasing right now? What is the leanest possible way to run your business without suffering significant inefficiencies?
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These are questions you should answer. A good place to seek answers is your accounting records. Conduct an audit of your books; perhaps you’ll find cash flow holes that you should plug.
5. Prepare for the Future
This might seem out of place at first sight. You’re battling to stay up right now. How is “preparing for the future” on this list?
But preparing for the future is a good way to keep your business alive. It gives you a long term perspective and primes you to persevere through today’s challenges.
Lean times present you with an opportunity to reshape for tomorrow. Here are a few ways you can do this:
• Audit your online channels. Implement changes that’ll improve your website’s SEO, and improve content delivery and engagement on social media.
• Get your staff trained to increase their skill levels and make them more productive. Prioritize up-skilling and reskilling.
• Learn more for yourself. Take courses that improve your administrative and service delivery skills.
These steps will cost you little or nothing to implement. But they will give you and your team a sense of expectation, and inspire you to press on.
6. Stay Positive
Your mindset is a crucial part of pulling through trying times. You have a higher chance of emerging from troubled periods if your efforts are fueled by optimism.
This doesn’t mean that you should carry on as though everything is fine. Be pragmatic by all means. But stay positive too. It’s how you’ll sail past this storm.
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