GCAN Connect Session - Tips on how Small Businesses can Thrive during this Difficult Time
We were kindly invited by Glasgow Connected Arts Network to speak at Creative Connect - their weekly online networking event for Creative Practitioners and Businesses in Scotland. We discussed our tips on how small businesses can thrive during this difficult time. Below are our suggestions - let us know yours in the comments.
Review Your Routines And Costs - The first step must be to go through routines and costs, trying to cut everything unnecessary. This can be really important for a small business where every penny counts - is your postage the best value for money, do you have multiple email accounts / subscriptions you don’t use? Are your suppliers working for you? Perhaps long term rent isn’t necessary anymore? This is especially important as we head into the end of furlough where customers will inevitably have less to spend - make sure that every penny you spend is 100% necessary.
Deeply Understand Your Customers' Needs
It is so important to understand your customers - they may have changed since covid started. You need to take a look at your sales data or user info carefully to understand your customer, where do people buy your product or service, how do they buy it, what age are they, where are they located? How has your customer been effected since lockdown? Your ideal customer profile should be very specific and realistic for you to get the best understanding.
It’s likely your customers immediate desires or needs have changed, so you need to pivot and tailor your approach to suit them in the new reality. Be open and ready to be able to pivot your business quickly, be flexible and open to change - have an open mindset towards your business, you may have to adapt quickly. This can be in changing how you deliver your product / service - for example an online workshop, or a door step delivery service. You do not have to change your whole business or product but simply pivot your offering to best suit what your customers require at this time, look at how quickly restaurants adapted to offer delivery services. Put yourself in different customers shoes and think how best you can adapt to suit them.
Make sure that you are being clear across all your channels with your communication. If you have delays / supply issues or costs are rising then communicate this honestly and clearly. Never before have consumers been as understanding of issues within your business - but allow them to understand - do this with professionalism but honesty. Human-centric communication is a small business's best defense during difficult times.
People buy into People.
It is also important to stay in front of your customers and make sure you keep regular communication to stay visible - even if you are maybe slowing down your service for the time being - how can you still have a presence and remain in their minds?
Celebrate every win. With everything that is happening in the world right now it can be easy to get overwhelmed, but you must try to stay positive and focus on your wins. Celebrate every single win with your audience, a new product, a new service, you sold out, your have a new stockist, you had time for an ice cream in the park on a Friday! At Business Collective Scotland we help our members celebrate their wins by sharing their news over our channels and it is funny how some members don’t think what they have is news - they tend to down play their own achievements when they should be shouting about them. The community we have is so supportive of each other and this helps us all to be more confident in sharing our wins.
Focus On Client Retention rather than new customers
Loads of new customers are great and many small businesses have experienced a surge in new business since lockdown but you do not want to spread yourself too thinly so you should focus your efforts on the customers or clients you already have. ‘deliver, deliver, deliver and retain’
Your customers should already be fans of yours and if you can show you are adapting to their ‘new needs’ they will remain loyal - they will also then become your biggest champions. It is important through your communication and service you make them feel needed, welcomed and a part of what you do at this time.
Network & Community
One of the reasons we started Business Collective Scotland during this difficult time was to support small business owners, creative practisers and the self employed and help them not only get through this difficult time but to also scale and succeed - together. Giving members a place to promote their business collectively but also to help each other out, have a chat, share problems and ideas. This year has been so difficult for so so many but what has come out of it is the strengthening of this idea of community - Business Collective Scotland is a place where we can meet, share and support - just digitally for the moment but we can’t wait to get together again and give Scotland’s creative small businesses the platform they deserve.
For more info please email Kelly & James at firstname.lastname@example.org