Managing a business right now is a huge source of stress. With Congress still trying to determine the next bailout I am sure money is tight, and your employees are wondering how long they might have a job. I know where you are, I’ve been there. The last recession of 2008-2009 was really tough. It’s been 12 years since then, and it was a long hard road back to success, but I am living proof that you can pivot and have a business that is financially gratifying, post Pandemic. In order to fix your business however, some of us are being forced to pivot and those of you who are staying with your current line of business must develop a better value proposition, refine your pricing strategy and examine your systems, staff, and business processes. You need to invest in the technology to boost your productivity and look for strategic partners. Taking a hard look inside your business with help you utilize this time to prepare your business to the next level. Here is how you can boost your business during this economic slowdown.
Evaluate Your Business: Take stock of where your business stands today. How well is your business running? Are your processes documented in your business? Review your infrastructure with this mini checklist of questions:
- Do you have cash flow and collections challenges?
- Look at your P&L over the last 2 years. Are you showing a profit?
- Who are your top customers? When is the last time you called them?
- Are your products and services still relevant?
- Do you have a consistent pipeline of sales leads?
- Who is on your team? Is it time to develop a new staffing plan? Do you have who and what you need to go where you want to go with your business?
This analysis of your business will help you be ready when demand comes back for your product or service.
Here are some exercises that you can do to get your business retooled.
Design Your Business 2.0: Reimagine your business. If time and money were no obstacle, what does your ultimate business look like in terms of offerings, # of employees, locations, numbers of clients, gross and net revenue. You will to specifically write down where you want to go and then build a plan to get there.
Sales Expansion: If you want to grow you need more sales. Develop a sales growth forecast, starts with identifying your niche customer, determine the number of new customers, monthly orders and sales revenue you want to generate. Include a spreadsheet that breaks the numbers down by month. Be sure to include an expense list in the spreadsheet that breaks down marketing expenses needed to generate the leads meet your sales forecast.
Finding the Money to Invest In Your Business: Running a business doesn’t come free. You need some budget and resources you invest in coaching, sales funnels, online ads, inventory, hiring staff, deploying new technology, adding equipment and facilities. We’ll also need to create reporting systems to measure and manage results. If you’ve been bootstrapping, now it might be time to identify where to find an outside source of funds such as a business grant, SBA loan or a line of credit from your bank. The most important thing is to know how much you’ll need, and have a sales plan to turn those dollars into revenue to pay it back. You never want to borrow money without a plan to pay it back.
Do Your Need to Rebuild Your Team? Who is on your team? As you think about the future of where you want your business to go, do you have the right players on your team? Recruiting and hiring systems are important, as are onboarding and payroll systems. Look at your admin support, sales people, accounting, social media/marketing support, customer service and your main suppliers.
- How do you find qualified help quickly? Job boards, LinkedIn, HR Consultants?
- Do you have enough customer service staff?
- What about the people who are responsible for your manufacturing, inventory and delivery of product or services?
If you outsource some of your support functions, or use software, are you getting enough value for what you pay for? Use this time to review everything you pay for and people who you have hired to determine if everyone is still needed or playing the right position. Review all your monthly business expenses and your staff rate them on a scale 1-10 only 7 or higher should stay in place.
Review Your Brand. Conduct a brand audit. Do you have a business or are you a Brand? What are you known for? What’s Your Brand Telling the World?
- Review yourbusiness website? Is it time for a new lead magnet?
- Assess yourexternal marketing materials. Google your business. What do your social media pages say about your brand? Are they consistent with messaging?
- Review yourGoogle analytics data. What is social media sites are driving the most traffic to your website?
- Survey your
- Survey people in yourtarget demographic who aren’t customers.
- Survey youremployees about their impression of your brand.
These answers will help you determine if you need to update your website, logo, messaging or color story.
Redefine Your Sales Process Reinventing your business obviously assumes you need sales. Do you have the sales structure in place to generate sales? Look at your sales process from end to end.
- Are there a sufficient number of lead magnets? (3-7 is typical)
- Do you have effective sales funnels?
- Do you generate the desired number of leads per month?
- What marketing systems are used to track and manage leads?
- Do you have a sales rep to follow up and close leads?
- Do have system to manage orders?
- Do you have a billing system and a receivables function to follow up to ensure invoices are collected timely?
- Is there follow-up after the sale to secure a reorder?
Investigate New Technology: Technology makes it easier and less expensive to build and grow a business. You can gain huge economies of scale and more throughput, with less labor, if you invest wisely in technology. Look at accounting, HR, CRM, marketing automation, sales management, inventory, manufacturing, shipping and other technology solutions.
- Automation can help you run your business at lower cost and more efficiently by minimizing manual work, especially in sales.
- Evaluate new products on the market that save time and money, yet accommodate much higher volumes in every part of your business.
- Systems integration is a prime area for improvement in most businesses. Looks at the technology and software that you already use. If those systems don’t work together they create chaos. Make sure your existing technology can integrate with anything you are thinking about bringing on to your existing platform.
Pursue Strategic Partnerships: Who on your team in thinking about how your business makes money other that you. Sometimes the answer is to look to partners, rather than hire internally, especially if you don’t have a big team. Technology gives huge leverage, but at the end of the day you still need sales leadership or strategic partners who can help drive long term sales opportunities if you are a professional service or manufacturing business. As the CEO, you won’t be able to oversee everything or chase down the biggest leads that have long sales cycles–hiring seasoned sales consultants might be the way to go.
Third parties may have the staff and investment in systems that enable them to be much more efficient in handling a function than your company. Trying to replicate that function internally may take too much time or money. Instead, find a reliable partner to outsource strategic sales to thus positioning your business to scale better, faster and cheaper.
The bottom-line is that most of us have been working day and night in our businesses for years, use this time of business slowdown to work strategically on your business. Develop new lead magnets, develop a new org chart, try out new productivity apps, call your customers, update job descriptions, fix your website, sign up for a class or develop more content for social media. Do these things so that on the other side of this pandemic, you can have a business that is in the best position to serve your customers and grow.