Dealing with Difficult Times in Business – Advice from our Members

Last Updated: March 15, 2020 in Business Advice
Here at The Collective we have been closely following the news and government guidelines regarding the Coronavirus pandemic and wanted to assure all our members that we are taking it all very seriously. At a time like this there is an even bigger need for community, collaboration and support and we hope that all our members know that our online hub is a place they can turn to for all these things.

It’s a scary time for businesses (understatement) with so much uncertainty and anxiety surrounding what the future will bring. Compassion, love and understanding must now be the way we deal with all our human interactions, from communicating with clients to helping our elderly next door neighbour. Our little community is strong, knowledgable and so wonderfully willing to provide support & help to members who need it so we just wanted to share some of the amazing advice given this week on our hub in the hope that it could also inspire and help our readers.

From our Member Kim of inimitable.co, a Wedding industry Professional:

  1. Be a listening ear. Your clients are going to naturally be worrying about what may or may not happen. Often they just want to have their fears heard, so a supportive ear is welcome.
  2. Employ a level of flexibility. This may mean rescheduling some meetings, extending deadlines a little more than usual or taking calls when you otherwise might not.
  3. Information gather. Be clear on your T&Cs that your clients have already signed up to, and if you’re a planner or organiser, make sure you understand those of the professionals you’re due to work with. Have the ‘what if’ conversations with them.
  4. Buddy up. I know many networks already do this but if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to identify fellow industry professionals that could step in if you became infected or had to self-isolate. Likewise you could step in for them.
  5. Keep as healthy as possible. Any form of stress reduces our capacity to fight illness so try to keep your wellness up as much as possible; the same three pillars of health are important here – eat well, exercise and get enough sleep.
  6. Finally, try not to panic. I KNOW that is far easier said than done, but the truth is nobody knows what’s going to happen in the coming months and mass speculation & worry is not actually helpful to anyone. Keep your head down and keep doing what you need to for your business and your family.

“This is a great opportunity to implement some in-house team training during those quieter periods. If you’re a one man band / one woman show, then take this time for some self-growth and, as Julia has already mentioned, to work ON your business, as opposed to IN it Identify things other members have done to congratulate them on and share these successes with others online and at events.  Follow other members on social media, like & comment on what they do.” – Samantha Hale & Julia Britten

“I think now is a great time to really give your business finances a look over. The more costs you can cut the more profit is left over in the business. Look at what subscriptions you might have, do you really need them? Are they critical to how you operate?  For me, cutting back on non essential costs feels as rewarding as a new source of income. Always keeping an eye on our costs helps us to keep our prices low too, so the savings can be passed on to our clients. If you have cash in the bank and you need to keep some subscriptions, look to see if you could take out the subscription for a year up front, often software products offer big discounts on yearly subscriptions. Of course, I’d advocate investing some of your new found savings into an increased marketing spend to help generate business for when we’re all past this outbreak. It could actually be critical for the survival of some businesses.” – Dan Meade, Speccy Media

“I’d recommend exploring Twitter for your industry, especially if you are working remotely for the first time. Twitter has fantastic hubs of expertise. There are weekly and monthly Twitter hours for many industries as well as generic business ones.  Not only is it great for professional development, you can make amazing contacts and learn from those who have already achieved your next business goals.” – Catherine Jones – Copywriter

“I would also recommend looking at official advice from your sector. For my florist client, the British Flower Association has issued guidelines which were useful and we’re also being flexible by adapting how we deliver on Mother’s Day ie doorstep drop, pop a card through the door, take a photo of the bouquet as proof of delivery. This so as customers don’t need to worry about elderly relatives coming into contact with more people than necessary.” – Donna Duggan – Digital Marketing Expert

“We are getting asked, “Should I stop marketing or delay my web project until the Coronavirus has passed?”. Our answer to this is a big fat NO! In fact, you might benefit from scaling up your marketing and web budgets right now rather than down.” – From an amazing article by Member Laura Westmore called “Should I stop marketing during the Coronavirus?”

“I would say ways to diversify and keep your customers informed is the best way.  I think it’s a good opportunity for companies to embrace technology. There are a number of apps offering free trials or extended periods for online meeting and conferencing. MS Teams is now free. Loom is offering unlimited videos until 1st July and has reduced its pro price. Zoom is free to use for 40 mins.  Businesses just need to assess their cash positions, what can they reduce if necessary and how they can bring in income from different sources. Also if you have corporation tax or accounts due you can get this delayed. Here is a brilliant link for this.” – Debbie Hancock, Accountant

Finally some top tips from Members Kitch Media:

“1. Take action, put extra precautions in place. Ensure there are clear guidelines for handwashing available, provide additional antibacterial sprays/gel/wipes where relevant and follow government guidelines.
2. Signpost best practice advice around your business to make people feel safe and encourage them to follow the necessary precautions.
3. Talk to your team, they are the first point of contact in your business. Make them aware of what actions you’re taking so they can confidently and concisely communicate this further.
4. Keep your community informed via relevant marketing channels, including mailers and social media posts. Large brands such as Bill’s are already informing customers and are one step ahead in their communications.
5. Ensure you have a plan of action in place in case you need to close your business and consider strategies to diversify your product or service. Prepare a statement that can be uploaded to your website communicating these changes, all enquires from social media can then be directed to this page.
6. Remember to thank your customers for their support, it won’t go unnoticed.

Even if your business is quieter at this time, keep your customers engaged. Humans are social beings and at a time we’re likely to be seeing fewer people, will spend more time on social media. Take advantage of this, by posting regularly and utilise the time to engage online.” – All from an amazing blog post by Natalie of Kitch – “Remember to Communicate in Uncertain Times”

We would like to finish by adding that there has never been a greater time to take care of your wellbeing. Eat well, rest lots and keep an eye on your mental health. Uncertain times can bring on increased anxiety and stress so do what you can to stay calm. Remember, you can only take one day at a time. Reach out to people close to you if you feel anxious, scared or helpless. Members, please do get in contact if you need support, it’s the reason we created this community and we are all here for each other.

Stay well, Helen & Abby x