Undoubtedly, 2020 has been the ultimate test of survival for SMBs (small to medium sized businesses) around the world. Without the resources and financial resilience of larger corporations, they are having to rescale and reinvent themselves to avoid getting left behind.
Businesses in New Zealand come as no exception, and for all the uncertainty ahead, the opportunity is there for those hanging on and able to adapt to the changes. Tenacious Kiwis are doing what they do best, with the support of their communities, proving their value and integrity to their customer bases.
As a proud small business operation, we relate to these challenges whilst continuing to support our clients’ changing needs. We have pulled together a shortlist of advice that is sure to give business a boost in the current climate.
1. Reduce costs
This is an obvious first step, but requires an inventory of assets and an in-depth analysis of service providers and spending habits to get to the bottom of the money pot. Here are a few quick wins you might not have thought of…
• Undertake a thorough review of your B2B suppliers, whether it’s printers, wholesalers or couriers. Do your market research and find the best value for your money.
• Switch phone/internet/insurance providers – if you’re not tied into a contract or if you are but it’s soon up for renewal, shop around for the most competitive deals.
• Sell on/buy second hand (furniture, electronic devices or office equipment) – there are many businesses looking to get rid of stock for a quick deal and you can pick up some real bargains.
• Outsource non-core work to freelancers – if you have had to reduce your workforce and can no longer manage all the work alone, there is always someone out there that can do it for you at a much reduced cost of salaried staff.
• Pool resources with other small businesses – share lifts to work, car-pool, partnership for ‘mates’ rates’ and network and support other businesses in your local community.
• Negotiate – although it may not be something us Kiwis are particularly comfortable with, there is always room for negotiation. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
2. Make process improvements
We know that you know time = money of course, but what you might not have fully considered, is the benefits of spending a little extra now, to increase your returns in the mid-term.
• Invest in and leverage analytics – something that many small businesses aren’t doing and definitely should be. Analytics can give you everything from data insights and diagnostics, to customer analysis, monitoring your competition and reporting.
• Automate and optimise – all those manual processes that can be done by computer software or Apps (timesheets, reports, orders). This will free-up time for you to concentrate on what is critical.
• Integrate CMS (Content Management Systems) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Systems. Ensure your contacts, accounts, and booking systems all talk to each other so that you can avoid duplicating data unnecessarily.
• Upgrade systems – don’t just update! Yes, the upgrades may be added expenditure but there might be added time and cost-saving convenience of an upgrade – weigh up the benefit-cost ratio before you hit ‘update’.
3. Re-define strategy and messaging
Whilst everything feels out of whack, take the time to recalibrate, reconsider and plan. What was going well last month may not, next month. Don’t be afraid to revisit your business plan and revise and adapt to future-proof your investments.
• Expand your market – develop a product or scale-up your current offering. Now may be the perfect time to focus on building trust and win loyalty.
• Set new objectives – make your business goals achievable if they are no longer (thanks to global pandemics). Keep your team motivated.
• Step-up your leadership game – people respond better to direction in troublesome times (that includes your customers and employees alike).
• Champion your people – communicate and collaborate, make them integral to the solution.
4. Increase brand awareness
Whilst larger companies are scaling back their marketing spend, smaller businesses should not take their foot off the gas, and instead make the most of this window of opportunity.
• Improve your web presence – now that ‘working from home’ is here to stay, make it easier for people to find you online. Make sure your website and communication channels are compelling, current and accessible.
• Write a blog – if you have never thought to do this, there is no better way to get your content published and your name out there (for free!).
• Revisit your look and feel – is it time for a tidy-up or a refresh?
• Provide value above and beyond your usual offering – organise a free giveaway, give a free upgrade or courier a product instead of posting in the snail mail.
• Be a force for good – do some pro-bono work, participate in local initiatives, charities or sponsorship opportunities. Partnerships like these create mutual benefits, including increasing reach and building reputation.
The absolute number one priority for any service provider post-2020. Simply put, if you are dragging your heels on moving your business forward online you are already being left behind. Your customers are ready for a digital future, so be sure to be ready too.
• Business functionality – automate manual tasks and get systems to do the hard work for you. Do away with that paper filing system and be confident in your online storage and data backups.
• Mobile support/cloud-based technologies – if you can structure your business so that you and your team can run off laptops, then you’re in a great position to decide whether or not you need to be spending all that rent money on your office space.
• Digital marketing – word of mouth only gets you so far, so invest in improving your searchability, your website and online advertising efforts.
• Get social – create social media profiles, communicate with your customers and most importantly, publish great content for shareability.
If you are interested to find out what services we can offer you, click here to learn more.