With a huge shift in how businesses operate (or if they can still operate) due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has left a lot of self-employed business owners frantically searching for ways to keep their businesses operating and generating revenue.
Whilst the future may seem uncertain and scary ahead, as a business owner, you will never get this time again to work on your business. So make sure that you use this time as an OPPORTUNITY to build your business and think about the BIGGER picture moving forward in the future.
If you’re thinking about your business, how it’s been affected and looking at how you can ‘future-proof’ this for any threats you may face moving forward then do note the difference between amending what you already do and actually using this as an opportunity to grow outside of the box.
We’ve got 7 ways to share with you how you can use this time to grow your business opportunities.
Develop a strong business plan for business opportunities
To help make sure that your comeback is going to be greater than your setback then you need to really think about a contingency plan for your business. You’ll have already highlighted a couple of threats to your business over this time, how can you future proof these moving forward before anything else happens to your business? Think of a plan of action to implement now so that when your business is back open for business all these processes are in place and you’re ready to begin a new chapter of your business’ history in the most prepared position possible.
Can you look at your current operation and project ways to strengthen what works, and then find solutions for the parts of your business which don’t work so well?
Create a strong social media strategy
If you don’t currently have a social media strategy, now is the best time to create one. If you do have a social media strategy, but it’s a bit lax, now is the best time to refine it. Creating or refining your social media strategy is so crucial to your business opportunities right now, more than ever. People are home, they’re looking for information to either be entertained, informed or educated by and why can’t you position yourself as an expert in your niche to create sharable social content?
Use this time to plan your social media schedule so that you can get into the habit of being consistent with your content, bulk create content from lifestyle imagery, product shots and even branded quotes so you have a huge bank of images to use across your social media channels moving forward.
Test your strategy in this time to see what content works well for you, what form of content gets the most engagement and whilst we don’t advise advertising your product or service at this time (usually we suggest the 80/20 rule of giving value 80% of the time and sell your product 20% of the time) we do advise you to test the water with the type of content you would use to drive sales. Create lots of free content for your audience to help them through this time, sharable tips, motivational advice and inspirational guidance in your niche.
Create, test, analyse and change the strategy in this time. If you’re not sure on how to create a social media strategy we’ve got a great FREE guide that we’ll send straight to your inbox to help you get started.
Drop your email address into the box below and we'll send you our free Social Media Strategy guide immediately to help you create an impacting marketing strategy for your business now.
Build your community
Whilst you’re creating and testing your social media strategy, you’ll also want to be using this time to build your community for good by creating connections and nurturing them to become leads for when business resumes.
Take Joe Wicks for example, not only is he the nation’s PE Teacher, a role where he is giving so much free value, he’s building his community to a new audience, with everybody talking about the value he is providing right now he has grown his profile and exponentially grown his community, which will all turn into leads based on the free service he’s been providing. When this is all over and these leads will either become customers of his new product or they’ll become word of mouth marketers to help drive sales to his new product.
Look at the business opportunities you have with your current platforms (social channels, website, email lists) and see how you can use these in a positive way to grow your community for good.
Focus on your website
Want to be found? A website is crucial and right now I really hope as a business owner you understand how crucial it is. Spend some time focusing on your website. If you don’t have one, build one (this can be done for free) and with little knowledge – we do recommend WordPress.org for non-eCommerce businesses and bloggers or Shopify for those with products to sell though. Focus on your website, optimising it for ranking well on search engines and for your customers too so that they can find more information about your business.
You should also be factoring this into your business plan and to sit alongside your social media strategy. Build a website and focus on building an email list too, this way you can really connect with your customers on a more personal level and give them real-time information when you’re back open.
If you already have a website, spend this time auditing it and improving it so that it ranks higher on search engines and more people can discover you in the future. Not sure how to audit a website? We’re giving you our Auditing Your Business Chapter FREE on our sister site ELLEfluence, just add the Academy to your basket and enter the code ‘FREE’ to get this entire section free.
Evaluate your business
This is closely linked to creating a plan, evaluate what you’ve discovered about your business thus far during the Pandemic and how it operates. You’ll have discovered more about your customers, your ideal customer and the customers you currently have within your business. Evaluating your customer avatar here is highly recommended especially including the need for your business and any further business opportunities you see from their predicted situation after this.
If the demand for your business has gone down then establish why this is? Are you a ‘like to have’ but ‘not an essential’ business such as a florist for example, when purse-strings are tightened luxury treats are the first thing to go. Assess how as a business you can use this as an opportunity to create an essential must-have offer/product or service to your customers.
We’ve talked already about future-proofing your business but what can you do to generate other revenue sources. Is there any scope in your business to create any of the following business opportunities; digital downloads, online subscriptions, eBooks and more. Think about as a business what your automated online-only offering could be.
If you’re a gym owner can you offer an online members area with daily/weekly uploads or a 12-week programme eBook? Restaurant owners, can you offer an online cooking course of some of your dishes without giving the secret sauce away? Photographers are you able to offer an online ‘how to take nightscapes’ course for example? Whatever your industry, there’s scope to use this time as an opportunity to use your expertise and create a digital offering.
What do people always ask you? What seems genius to them, and second-nature to you? Package that up into something new and exciting, and you might have yourself a brand new income stream.
Really think about the different outcomes after this Pandemic is over. How will demand for your business change? Will there be a massive demand increase and how will you cope with this? Can you plan ahead now? Or if you think the demand won’t be there after this do you need to contemplate adapting your business model and create more business opportunities?
Strategize your current strengths and weaknesses within your business and look at your opportunities and threats too moving forward. Consider everything from the disruption of supply chains to difficulties in communication, generating customers and even increased competition with other businesses in your market (use this time to be further ahead than them). Regardless of how you think the Pandemic is going to pan out and how it might affect you, create a plan for every conceivable scenario both good and bad so you’re prepared and can adapt quickly.
Simplify your business operations
Through this entire time period where businesses have employees working from home there are so many lessons to be taken away from this, most notably, are you able to discover ways to simplify your business operations, such as making the customer journey shorter.
If you have an ordering system where it’s just via phone, can you use easy to build (no experience needed) online shops on Shopify so that you can drive the majority of phone customers to your website, freeing up the person on the phone to utilise their time more efficiently and simplifying your ordering system? This way you may also generate a new customer audience who don’t want to order by phone but will happily order online?
Can you decrease any overheads whilst making more profit? Do you really need 4 fancy offices around the city or can you band into 2 offices, or can you keep head-office open and have the other 3 offices working remotely? Are you able to streamline your business’ communication efforts? Do you really need a 10 step approval process or can you narrow this down to a 3 step process? Look at every aspect of how you’re running your business and simplify it to save time and resources while maximising your profits.
Do you have any more tips to give to those businesses so that they can make the most of this time and use it for business opportunities to grow? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below. As always if you’ve found this of value we’d love for you to share it with a business owner in need of ideas for business opportunities and across social media.