(Pt. 1) Small Business Owners | Five Quick Things You Can Do Right Now
We are all in different boats right now, even though we may be facing the same storm. Some of those boats are big, some small, some have lifeboats, some have kids, some have partners with secure incomes, some are solo boats.
My guess however, is that each and every one of those boats is taking on water - whether through a small leak, or a gushing hole in the bottom of the boat. Some of the sailors are blind to this water coming in, some are desperately repairing that leak stuffing it with everything that they can get their hands on. Some are fastidiously drawing up plans to build a brand new boat.
Wherever you may fit into the above analogy, now more than ever is the time to be HUSTLING as a small business owner.
I've seen a lot of creatives thinking that this lockdown is a great chance to put your feet up, work on some creative projects, and bake some banana bread. (Sure, take some time to meditate and exercise - anything to help with the stress!). A lot of business owners are trying purely to stay afloat, and keep their kids fed and happy, and manage their own anxiety levels.
BUT - now is the time to be working on your strategy for the next 12-18 months. Whether you can eke out a few moments to listen to a podcast while showering, or put a tutorial on while making dinner, or steal back 20 minutes of scrolling time from facebook to work your way through a few of the below ideas.
We're in the long haul in terms of the upcoming economic recession, and the entire face of business is changing rapidly. You can get ahead of the curve though - here are a few tips to get started:
1. Update your online bios and copy.
Take 30 minutes to rewrite your online bios - on your website and your social media platforms. These introductions to yourself and your brand are very important, and should be a fresh, concise and fun way to welcome potential clients to your website and facebook/instagram accounts.
It's also a great chance to update all the copy on your website - put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never heard of you before, and has no idea what the service is that you offer, and make sure that if they were to visit your website they would be able to quickly and easily understand who you are, what you offer, and how they can make a purchase/hire you.
Keep in mind:
- quick, concise and fresh wording
- adding in your location (it blows my mind how often I end up on a website for a service provider and I have to truly SEARCH for information about where they are located!)
2. Update your portfolio/online visual presence.
Whether you're a photographer or florist or graphic designer, my bet is that you have an online portfolio of your work. Some of the best advice I've ever received is that you're only as strong as your weakest photo. So whatever work/images/designs you have showcased on your website or social media platforms that are outdated, or not a true representation of what you offer now, or a sample of the work you did in varsity or school - should be removed from your portfolio.
Keep the representation of your work fresh, up-to-date and relevant to what you offer.
3. Give your website a makeover.
This new look has made the whole team feel rejuvenated and refreshed, and given us a great project to work on in this quiet patch.
4. Go digital.
Whatever service/product you may offer, now is the time to consider creating a virtual/digital version of it.
Can you teach what you do? Then set up online lessons.
Can you sell your service digitally? Then set up an online store.
Just last week we launched an online store, and are now offering digital design services as well. We can design a fresh logo for you; website, email sigs etc!
4. Help others.
Now is the absolute best time to be building a community, a network, a collection of other local suppliers and service providers that you can help, and you can rely on.
We have just launched a new instagram page to do just this - @supportyourlocal_jhb.
When lockdown is over (and right now!) we are truly going to need to support our local economy more than ever before - building a network of local businesses that you can use to build your own supply chain (rather than ordering parts etc from China!), and can support going forward will make a difference to our South African economy.
5. Review your cashflow.
Now more than ever you need to be brutally honest with yourself as to every single thing you spend money on, and every expense that can be cut or reduced.
Draw up a plan going forward for the next 3 - 6 - 9 months, outlining every potential possibility - what if you earn absolutely nothing for that time? Have you drawn up a contingency plan for each member of your team - what if any of them were to get sick and not be able to work? What if you as the CEO/owner of your biz were to get sick? What contingencies do you have in place for that?
In the words of Richard Mulholland, what if this is the best thing that ever happened to your business? (Read this article!)
Now is the time for adapting, for diversifying, for growing, for strengthening.
Robyn Davie is the CEO of the Robyn Davie Photography brand, based in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Her team is made up of six JHB photographers, four CT photographers, an office manager, marketing manager, business manager and a handful of editors and graphic designers.
The brand has proudly partnered with the iStore in 2020, and won multiple awards through Admired in Africa. Innovation is at the forefront of what they do - always adapting their product offerings, and aiming to stand out from the crowd with fresh, bold and bright photography.