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COVID-19 is forcing business owners everywhere to reconsider their business growth strategies. In some areas, potential growth is restricted; certain industries have all but shut down during the pandemic, and consumer spending in some niches has slowed to a trickle.
But there are also new opportunities to be found—if you know where to look.
Business Growth Strategies Post-COVID-19
If you want to keep growing your business, or if you just want to stay afloat during these difficult times, there are several strategies that can help you during AND after the crisis:
- Work with a business growth consultant. Business growth strategies were already complicated, and difficult for even experienced business leaders to utilize. Now that the pandemic has complicated business growth even further, it pays to have a professional consultant in your corner. A business growth consultant will work with you to analyze your current situation, including how your business has changed since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ll analyze how your industry has been impacted by COVID-19 and generate a plan for the future. Together, you’ll produce a list of potential avenues from growth, and they’ll guide you in your execution of your plan.
- Better understand your specific risks. Even if you don’t hire a consultant, it’s important to spend some time researching and understanding the specific risks you face. Some of these risks likely hit you hard already; for example, if your business relies on foot traffic to survive, and your state issued a stay-at-home order, you’ve already felt the pain from this risk. But it’s still important to look at other areas that have been impacted by the virus; for example, container ships have been all but grounded since March 2020, so if you have or were planning on relying on international suppliers, you may need to rethink your strategy.
- Acknowledge and talk about the pandemic. In your marketing, advertising, and general customer communication strategies, it’s important to acknowledge and talk about the pandemic. Today’s consumers value transparency and honesty more than they ever have before, so they’ll appreciate you talking about how your business has changed, and how you’re planning on responding in the future. Depending on the size of your audience and the nature of your brand, you could keep customers updated with the latest information on the pandemic via social media, or use COVID-19 in your advertising to explain why you’re changing your business model.
- But don’t exploit it. At the same time, it’s important not to exploit the pandemic, or use it to generate a purely emotional reaction from your customers. Many major consumer brands have issued new advertisements in the wake of the pandemic, and if you’ve noticed, they’ve mostly followed a similar formula; eventually, clichés fall on deaf ears, and exploitative content ends up damaging your brand reputation. Make sure you present any pandemic-related messaging with sincerity, and in a unique way; don’t merely try to copy what another brand before you has done.
- Follow all safety recommendations. If and when your business reopens to the public, it’s in your best interest to follow as many safety precautions as possible; this is to keep you, your employees, and your customers healthy, but also to preserve your reputation during these tumultuous times. The CDC has an exhaustive list of precautions you can take, but it’s on you to find ways to follow them in your business. For example, it’s recommended that people stay approximately six feet apart from one another; your business could respond to this by erecting partitions between groups of people, or by physically marking the floor in intervals of six feet.
- Consider adopting a new mode of delivery or interaction. Even better, consider adopting a new method of delivery or interaction for your business. As a straightforward example, many restaurants have quickly converted to become food delivery services, but there’s room to get creative here. As a music instructor, can you give lessons over streaming video? As a physical therapist, can you guide patients through exercises virtually?
- Differentiate your brand. Take a look at what other businesses like yours are doing during the pandemic if you need help brainstorming new ways to provide your core products or services. However, it’s important not to copy them directly (which we touched on in our point on advertising). Differentiating your brand will help you remain competitive, and get people talking about your business; of course, the challenge is figuring out a way to differentiate yourself. Can you offer a different model? Can you provide lower prices or more robust services? Can you enact a new loyalty program, or appeal to a different demographic?
- Reduce operating expenses. Business growth often entails an increase in spending and a bigger geographic presence, but before you can get to that stage, it’s important to trim the fat. Operating lean is the key to long-term growth, since it allows you to generate higher profits, which you can then reinvest in the business—especially now that your revenue may be temporarily limited. Simple changes, like reducing your open hours or furloughing unnecessary employees, can help you get through this difficult period, but also consider bigger changes; for example, can you shut down your central office and work remotely full-time?
- Supplement your income with new products or services. Finally, consider supplementing your core products and services with new products and services, created for a post-COVID-19 world. For example, you may run a local hardware store; can you also provide virtual lessons on how to tackle common DIY projects? Establishing a new line of revenue can help your business grow, and diversify your income streams so you’re better protected against future volatility.
While the pandemic may already have had a measurable impact on your business, there’s nothing stopping you from adjusting your approach moving forward. Learn from this experience, remain adaptable, and experiment to find new tactics to allow your business to grow.
Connect with us today on business growth strategy during and after the crisis. Wishing you health AND prosperity!