Business planning after covid-19

Like many of you, I started 2020 very excited and with big goals. It was a new decade and time for a Super-Dee-Duper year (to quote Barney the children’s dinosaur). Clearly that didn’t turn out as expected!

To date, more than 115,000 people in the U.S. have died from covid-19. We’ve endured business shutdowns, sheltering-in-place, and many protests. We’ve had children and spouses schooling/working from home and sharing our space. And we’ve had legitimate fears for our health and economic security. Yikes!

It’s time to re-evaluate our 2020 goals. But how do we do that?

Determine how your business is impacted.

How has your business fared? If you’re lucky, your business has flourished during the pandemic. Maybe you’re a shareholder in Zoom teleconferencing software, which grew exponentially during the pandemic. Or your business provides cleaning products, home hair care, or delivery services. In these cases, you’ve had to ramp up production and have the challenges of unplanned growth.

Unfortunately, most of my colleagues have not been so lucky. This includes people who offer in-person services (such as teaching, hair styling and massage therapy). For instance, I have a colleague who is an SAT coach. His business evaporated as school boards canceled SATs and, going forward, many colleges are questioning their usefulness.

Even if your bottom line has not changed, you are likely facing challenges. Your customers may be reluctant to meet in-person and you must transition to video conferencing. You or your clients may be under financial stress and need financing or payment plans. You may be faced with problems sourcing products or delivering services. And finally, clients may be placing a new emphasis on politics and social justice – rather than just leaving political discussions “off the table.”

Decide what you are willing to do (and not do).

Decide how you want to conduct your business over the next few months. In my case, I am not willing to travel by public transportation (train, bus or air) so I’ll be staying close to home for the foreseeable future. I’m also not willing to attend live events, so will not be attending conferences or doing any public speaking. Finally, I’m not willing to conduct in-person meetings or work in a public space (such as a coffee shop).

Create your own list of boundaries. What are you willing to do? Perhaps this is the time to create an online course and learn to teach remotely. Or to put money into paid advertising using Google ads or Facebook ads. Be creative!

Instead of in-person networking, I have a colleague who is scheduling a get-to-know-you call every week with someone she’s met on LinkedIn. That’s a great way to build your network without leaving your house!

What works with my conscience?

The covid-19 pandemic and murder of George Floyd have been the catalysts for change in the United States. Examine your feelings and decide how you want to proceed.

For instance, you may want to switch to suppliers who support Black Lives Matter. You may wish to post a political statement on your website. Or to speak out on your blog or your business Facebook page. You may also re-think some of the platforms that you use in your business, based on whether or not they censor hate speech. (Here is a link to my blog post about Black Lives Matter.)

Finally, decide how you want to handle pricing. Many of your customers may be hurting financially. Do you want to lower your prices? Or offer a lower-tier service that can serve people who can no longer afford what you offer? Perhaps you want to offer financing or payment plans.

What changes have happened in my life?

Your business does not exist in a vacuum, especially if you are working from home. Many entrepreneurs are now working with family members in their household, which can be highly distracting. You may also have experienced changes in your physical, emotional or financial health that need to be considered as you move forward. Don’t expect to continue exactly as you were prior to the pandemic.

What does the future look like in my industry?

The covid-19 pandemic has shown how resilient business owners are. At the beginning of the year, few of us knew the meaning of PPE or social distancing. Now many businesses are reopening with mandatory mask wearing, increased sanitation, plexiglass barriers, and the need for regular covid testing.

Unfortunately, you may be in a business where these changes are not enough. For instance, if your company offers catering for conventions, there won’t be much demand for the foreseeable future. Earlier I mentioned a colleague who does SAT preparation. That is another example of a future that, at this point, looks grim. If this is the case, it may be time to re-think your business model.

How can I adapt to a post-covid world?

I believe that your first step is to focus on safety. What can you do to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your clients safe? Is there a way you can use technology – such as adding payment buttons to your website – that will limit in-person contact?

You might want to upgrade your equipment so you can do Zoom calls. You might also want to invest in lighting, a better camera, or a microphone to make your Zoom calls more professional.

Instead of in-person networking events, you may wish to pay more attention to your social media accounts. Since vending at a trade show isn’t possible, consider putting that budget into Google advertising or Facebook ads.

Finally, you may want to rearrange your office (or your schedule) to include your stay-at-home family members. Perhaps you can put a privacy screen around your desk. Or get up really early to complete the bulk of your work before the family gets up. There’s lots of potential for problem-solving.

Conduct a SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis refers to analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and strengths of your business. There are details on how to conduct a SWOT analysis in this blog post.

Once you analyze your business, you need to set goals that will build on your strengths and improve your success. You need to analyze your weaknesses and come up with a plan for reducing what you do poorly. You need to look at opportunities to grow your business, for instance by creating a new product or improving your market share. And finally, you need to take steps to reduce threats by making your processes more efficient, protecting your intellectual property, and monitoring your competition.

Remember that Everything is Figureoutable

I highly recommend reading Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. The title of this book is based on advice Marie received from her mother, who was figuring out how to fix a radio. Solopreneurs are smart, powerful and resilient. Even though there have been some major changes in our lives, we can figure it out!

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