This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
Nurturing your company culture, strengthening community ties, delivering what your customers need and putting your best foot forward on your website are sound strategies for weathering the storm.
5 min read
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Times are uncertain, and for business owners, the public health emergency has made the marketplace a tricky and terrifying environment. Following guidelines for social distancing might be inconvenient, and many companies face short-term losses and a bleak outlook. Taking care of your business during a crisis is vital, though. Let’s take a look at some practical and responsible strategies that can help sustain your business, even in this difficult time.
Focus on company culture
Whether you’re a sole proprietor or employ dozens of people, your company has a culture. It’s your ethos, your raison d’être, what sets you apart from your competitors. While some companies dismiss touchy-feely topics like company culture, they do so at their own peril. In fact, IBM did a study and discovered that employees who felt a strong connection to their company and their peers produced better financial outcomes for their employers.
That’s right: A cohesive company culture leads better experiences for both your employees and your customers. So while business is slow right now, take a little time to reflect on the kind of business you want to run. Dedicate some energy to encouraging your staff to think of themselves as part of a vital community, even if you’re all working remotely. Culture can be cultivated, even from a distance. A shared sense of purpose and a commitment to collective goals can establish your company as a great place to work and an organization dedicated to delivering excellent customer service.
Get closer to your community
Whether you own an accounting firm, a fabric store or a landscaping business, you’re part of your community. Even online businesses are based somewhere, right? If business is slow for your company, or if you’re running a business that’s been deemed non-essential, use your downtime as an opportunity to create stronger ties to your neighbors. Look around your community and see what needs your company can meet. Can it provide meals for a busy local hospital? Can you organize your staff to deliver groceries to community members who can’t shop for themselves? Is there an educational program you can offer for free to parents looking to entertain stir-crazy kids? If you’re forced to slow down in this difficult time, do something productive with your resources. Forging stronger bonds with your community will position you for a quicker recovery when things start to open up again.
Focus on what your customers need
When frightened consumers emptied shelves of hand sanitizer, what did distilleries large and small do? They shifted their production from artisan spirits to mass quantities of hand sanitizer. Although your business might not distill alcohol, you could still be able to rethink the goods and services you sell to meet new consumer needs. Restaurants, forced to close their dining rooms, have re-imagined their businesses, offering paper goods and fresh meat for sale to customers who might not be able to procure items at grocery stores. A fabric store could put together kits for DIY face masks. An accountant might study up on strategies and changes in tax laws to help clients keep as much of their money as possible. When the market changes, businesses have to change too.
Up your content game
If there’s a silver lining to this situation, it’s the opportunity to tend to tasks you know you should do but never find time for. Creating dynamic content for your website is one of those tasks. Even if you’re not a natural writer, there are tons of underemployed freelancers all over the world who can take your ideas and generate content that will engage your customers and help promote your brand and your business.
Whether you start a company blog, create entertaining and informative videos or simply update information about your company’s offerings, giving your company website a makeover makes sense, especially at a time with so many people sitting at home on their computers. Not convinced that fresh content and a strong SEO game matters? Check out some SEO statistics, like the fact that 72 percent of online marketers believe content marketing is the most effective SEO strategy. While sales for your business are slow, seize the opportunity to take care of chores you might otherwise neglect.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40 percent of businesses don’t reopen after a disaster. That’s a sobering statistic for sure, and although we can’t anticipate or avoid every difficulty, what we can do is invest some time and energy into positioning our companies to emerge from this in the best possible position. Nurturing your company culture, strengthening community ties, delivering what your customers need and putting your best foot forward on your website are sound strategies for weathering the storm.