We live in an uncertain time. Millions of us are out of work or have had to close our businesses in an effort to keep this disease from spreading any further.
If you’re a business owner then no doubt you’ve asked yourself, how long can my business hold out? When this is over, will my customers come back? If they do, will I have enough toilet paper?
These are all good questions to ask (especially the one about toilet paper). Yet, we need to make sure we are not operating out of fear as we ask them. The time to panic is over, now is the time to save our businesses.
As a small business owner, I know that it’s easy to get busy. When the business was humming along, there wasn’t always time to analyze your costs. It’s not that you didn’t see the value in it, but you had customers to take care of first. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Don’t get down though. There is a silver lining to that dark cloud, and it’s called expense analysis. Hooray! What fun!
Okay, I know it sounds boring, but what seemed like a waste of time before may be what saves your business today. You need to start by taking stock of your assets and resources. That includes equipment, subscriptions, services and anything else owned or used by the business for its operation.
Some assets will be essential to the business, others will be underutilized. Make two lists. One is a list of resources necessary to the operation of the business, the other is a list of those that are underutilized.
Now with these lists in hand, you need to figure out which assets to liquidate. Look at your list of underutilized assets. Cross out any that are only temporarily on this list (resources that you know will be used soon). Finally, order the remaining assets from easiest-to-sell to hardest-to-sell.
Once you have decided what we can liquidate and you have your list, then it’s time to prepare to sell those assets. Sites like eBay, Amazon and Facebook Marketplace are great places to sell things. Of course, while we are all maintaining social distance you will want to hold off on meeting anyone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make preparations to sell these assets online or in person at a later time.
Don’t do this in panic mode. The purpose isn’t to sell everything and cannibalize the business. It’s to get rid of your business’s dead weight over the next few months and counter your profit loss.
Another thing to ask, is can we cut any subscriptions or services, or is there a better provider out there? This also takes careful consideration, and it might surprise you to find subscriptions you have forgotten about.
LET’S GET EFFICIENT
With everything seemingly falling apart, efficiency might be the last thing on your mind, but you need to remember that time is money. We have too much time now, but soon we won’t have enough as we play catch up the rest of the year, so this step is crucial.
This also can’t be done in panic mode. You need to be thinking of your business’s overall health. If this is done well you will serve your customers better because you will be focusing more attention on your important tasks and less on the inefficient processes/systems you might have developed over the years.
There are many simple things you can do to increase efficiency, like reorganizing your office, giving away / getting rid of stuff, reorganizing your computer files (so you can find stuff), cutting unnecessary tasks from workflows, setting up auto-responders. These might seem like small things, but they add up and if maintained, they can help you save a good chunk of time. If you want to go even further, check out Getting Things Done, by David Allen.
One last thing you can also do is to go through your website, content, auto-responders and social media profiles to make sure your company’s values are clearly and accurately represented across your brand. People enjoy clear and concise language and this will save you time with customer service/correspondence later.
DON’T GIVE UP
Whatever you do, just don’t give up! I can’t say for certain that optimizing your business will be what gets you through this crisis. One thing is guaranteed though, by following these steps your company will be in a better position to survive this. At best it will help get you back on your feet, at worst it will prepare you to move in a new direction.
Every generation has its obstacles. Some of us will be more affected than others, but that doesn’t mean the world will end. We must always remember there is opportunity just on the other side of change. All we have to do is hang in there and look for new ways to serve people.
Thanks for reading. In the next few days, I’ll share more tips on how to keep your business operating or position yourself to be ready for a new opportunity.
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