It’s no secret that we are living in strange and uncertain times. This is especially difficult for small business owners because economic downturns and market changes present a serious threat to their survival and growth. However, there are ways you can help to increase your business’ agility in order to stay afloat in the face of sudden change. Here are five ways to future-proof your small business.
1. Make an Impact in the Local Community
Look after your community and your community will look after you.
In both good and bad times, it’s important to consider how you can contribute to the local community as a business owner. This is an absolutely excellent PR strategy because local media outlets regularly cover community events, and so it’s a great way to get your name out there. Furthermore, it positions you as a business at the very heart of the local community, thus increasing trust and customer loyalty.
Ways to contribute include:
- Sponsor charitable events
- Host fundraisers
- Donate to local organisations, such as schools and care homes
- Offer discounts to certain members of the community; for example, many businesses offered NHS discounts at the start of the covid-19 pandemic.
During the pandemic there has been a surge of support for local businesses. If you prove that you care about the local community, they will in turn remember and support you when times are tough.
2. Go Digital
Digitising your small business improves your organisational agility tenfold. Not only this, but it allows you to expand your customer base and improve productivity through flexible working.
Introducing remote working allows you to cut down on office costs such as heating, water and electricity. In fact, it may even save you money in rent by permitting you to relocate to a smaller and more affordable space.
Furthermore, advertising your products online and creating a website allows customers to browse through your offerings from anywhere in the world, dramatically increasing your selling opportunities.
Creating an engaging and immersive online customer experience may also mean that you don’t need to employ so many salespeople, saving you even more money.
3. Value Your Employees
When the going gets tough, the last thing you need is your employees jumping ship. Make sure that your employees feel appreciated to ensure that they stay loyal to you and remain committed to the success of your business.
It’s important to recognise your employees’ strengths and praise them for their efforts. Furthermore, it’s wise to take their opinions into account and ask for suggestions about how your company can remain agile during uncertain times.
Employee morale has a direct impact on productivity and it’s essential to keep your team functioning at its best during an economic downturn or period of uncertainty. You don’t have to spend huge sums of money on team building but do try to create bonding opportunities where you can.
If you need to cut back on costs, consider the impact the effect this will have on employee morale before you overzealously slash away at their benefits. Explain why certain changes are necessary and don’t keep them in the dark about what’s going on with your business, or this could lead to resentment. Instead, try to cultivate a “we’re all in this together” attitude.
4. Nurture Your Existing Customers
A study by Bain & Company found that increasing customer retention by 5% can boost profits by between 25-95%. Now that’s what we call a healthy ROI!
During difficult times, it’s important to show your customers that you’re there to support them. Be sensitive to their concerns and make them feel valued in order to encourage repeat business. Go the extra mile to provide a personal touch to show them just how much you appreciate their custom. You could also create attractive customer loyalty programs such as exclusive discounts, loyalty cards or a points system.
Change is one of life’s few certainties, so it’s important to focus on improving your organisational agility as much as possible so that you can continue providing an excellent service when times get tough.
By working to make an impact in your community and nurturing your existing customers, you’ll remain front-of-mind and cultivate loyalty, which is incredibly valuable during tough times.
Furthermore, harnessing the power of technology and digitising your small business allows you to make swift changes to your approach and stay up-to-date with market changes.
You never can be sure when hard times will hit, so make a concentrated effort to prepare your business today.