It’s no secret that the past few months have been challenging, especially if you run a small business. With the entire country in lockdown, demand has decreased significantly, and many entrepreneurs are stuck with fixed costs like rent and wages which need to be paid even if there is a business slump. While this can be stressful. there are still steps you can take to ensure your business can overcome this obstacle.
1. Change Your Business (A Little!)
Can you do something with your business so that you can cater to what the current demand is? For instance, if you sell clothes, can you get your tailors to make masks instead? If you run a food setup, could you collaborate with a platform that delivers across the city? Even though it may not be apparent, there may perhaps be an opportunity in this crisis. If you’re looking for inspiration for your entrepreneurial venture, this list of business ideas with low investment and high profits can come quite handy.
2. Go Digital
Take advantage of technology, girl! For all those who’re in any kind of teaching, you can easily switch to video software (like Zoom) to take your classes instead. Provide your clients with the same experience, only digitally instead of physically. If you’re a brand that sells through pop-ups and exhibitions, can you look at selling through e-commerce instead? You don’t even have to set up your own e-commerce operations; platforms like Meesho, Bulbul and Little Black Book allow you to start selling to a larger audience almost immediately.
3. Reduce Unnecessary Expenditure
When you’re running a business, it’s very easy for costs to pile up without you realising it. This is a time cut down on all expenses you can manage without. Speak to your wifi provider if they can pause the subscription if you’re not using it. If there are subscriptions you’ve signed up to on behalf of the company, like business publications, you could consider unsubscribing for a while too.
4. Branding & Marketing
Many small businesses tend to overlook this, but marketing your business has perhaps never been more important. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do this. If you haven’t been using social media to brand your business, this is a good time to do so. One that can help you get your brand noticed, particularly when the business starts picking up again. Effective marketing is an investment that will surely pay off. Think creatively and out of the box. Work your Instagram game by sharing regular updates and Instalives about your products & services. Create a YouTube channel where you can share video content in a manner that helps you build your brand.
5. Offer Services
If you’re a baker and run a patisserie business, could you consider doing paid webinars where you teach people how to bake a banana cake and sourdough bread? If you run an advertising company, can you offer your services to people looking to write blogs and research papers on Covid? While this may not be as effective as your core business, this can help get in interim revenue.
6. Network, Network, Network
The beauty of these times is that despite physical lockdown, there are still multiple opportunities to build networks digitally which can be capitalised on eventually. Join networking groups on Facebook or LinkedIn. You can also reach out to your existing network through WhatsApp or an email, to tell them about your business, and any opportunities that they could be beneficial to them.
7. Study Government Initiatives
Taking into account the current situation, The Indian Government has announced several relief measures for small scale businesses. Right from securing a collateral-free loan, to announcing a moratorium on EMI payments, there are measures that your business can take advantage of. The best way to do this is to follow up with the official Government news announcements from official Government news sites and stay updated. Do not rely on Whatsapp forwards or consultants who can claim to get you a loan directly from the Government. Also consider registering yourself with relevant government organisations and bodies, as any introduced benefits are likely to affect your business positively.
8. Plan Your Long-Term Finances
Even once the lockdown finally opens up, it will take some time for demand to come back. Hence, it’s important you plan your finances wisely, keeping in mind the next few months. It might not be a bad idea to plan conservatively so that your business can keep with these changes. Take note of where you can save and where you could invest. For instance, can your teamwork remotely from home for the next few months instead of a co-working space, while you invest in the paid version of a video conferencing tool that can ensure productivity. If you had budgeted a certain sum for organising pop-up exhibitions, can you spend that on running some paid ads on Facebook and getting audiences to discover your brand? Take these considerations in mind
9. Cash Is King
This is an important time to bring in money into the business. If you have any pending payments, try getting them in. If you offer services, ask your clients if they could pay you a certain percentage of your fees in advance. If you run a product business, you could take also pre-orders, which you can commit to delivering after the lockdown is lifted
10. Join Hands
This is a challenging time, but the best way to get through this is together. What you can do is help your friends who also run small-scale businesses. Get your friend who runs a social media agency to help you with your marketing. Buy cupcakes from your friend who runs a home bakery. Ask your neighbourhood aunty to send you her special mango pickle. Once you help local businesses, your business will also receive some help. After all, what goes around, comes around.
Let these challenging times not crush your entrepreneurial spirit, for like every difficult phase, this too shall pass. What you need to do is work a little smarter in these times, to ensure that despite the slump, your business does not bear the entire brunt. Rather go through this to only come out stronger.