19 Ways to Help Your Small Business During Downtime
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all small businesses and solopreneurs in one way or another. Whether you have reduced hours or simply have more time because you aren’t driving in traffic and your social life has been obliterated, here are 19 suggestions for ways you can use your extra time to help your business:
1. Create/update your social media sites. For those with existing sites, is the information about your business still correct? Does it reflect what you actually do? Do your photos need to be updated? For those who do not have sites, think hard about whether or not creating one would help you reach more people. Remember, a well-designed, informative social media site is an excellent marketing tool that is also FREE!
2. Organize. Organize your offices, both at home and at work if you can get there. Create better systems to organize both physical and digital documents and data. Do important documents and to-dos get lost or fall through the cracks because you only have a single, overflowing inbox? If so, create several categorized inboxes. Develop a to-do list system that works for you, whether it’s on your phone, computer -- or go ol’ school with paper.
3. Catch up on blogs & articles you said you would read when you had time. Set a timer for 30 minutes to read the stuff you said you wanted to at some point, for some good reason. Delete/recycle as you finish. Repeat every day.
4. Get into a creative space. Do what works for you: walk the beach or hike the woods, work on a puzzle, do yoga or guided meditation, drink tea and stare at the sky – whatever activities put you in a relaxed and creative space. Don’t expect to get there by looking at a screen, so shut that laptop and put that phone down!
5. Create or update your website. Whether you need to create a new site or are updating your current one, you can write down your desired text, sketch your ideas for page layouts and visuals, check out other websites and save screen shots of things you like and dislike. Ask for quotes from website developers and, if needed, ask if you can pay them in a few months when your business is back on its feet.
6. Research networking groups you could join. There are lots of options including Chamber of Commerce, BNI (Business Networking International), Polka Dot Powerhouse, Rotary, Kiwanis, and others. Add dates of their upcoming meetings to your calendar so you can try one out when life gets back to normal.
7. Create or update your Google My Business listing. As with the social media sites, is the information correct and does it reflect what you actually do? Do your photos need to be updated?
8. Take a good hard look at your books. Where can you cut expenses in ‘normal’ times? What investments can you make that will give a large ROI? Are you meeting your goals? This could be a good time to schedule a video meeting with your advisors.
9. Learn something new. Read books & articles on topics that interest you or skills you need to improve on (see if you can checkout eBooks from your library). LinkedIn Learning has TONS of great online classes/trainings. Google is your friend on this one - if you want to know about it then Google will have something for you!
10. Create an editorial calendar for social media posts. Brainstorm topics, write the text and find the pictures/links you want to use in the posts, then schedule when you want to post them. Can you turn management of your social media over to a team member or consultant when you get busy again?
11. Don’t feel like you need to reinvent the wheel - ask for help. Reach out to your network for advice on a topic you want to learn about, how someone else is solving a problem, suggestions for a good book about X, or if you want to bounce ideas off someone who can give good, honest, knowledgeable feedback.
12. Rest & Restore. Sleep more, exercise, get some fresh air, take time. Your mind & body will thank you.
13. Use software to automate and organize. Think about the ways you can use software to be more efficient and organize your to-do lists, team management, and create folders/categories in your email so you can find old emails quickly. Use software to digitally schedule reoccurring items so they don’t slip through the cracks.
14. Brainstorm creative ways you can change up your marketing. Use pen & paper for this one, not a screen! After your brainstorm session, set your ideas aside for at least a day. Add to them when you think of more ideas.
15. Clear up your emails. Figure out what system you want to use (I’m a big fan of using folders to move all emails that I have already dealt with out of my inbox). Set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes, whatever works for you, and do nothing but organize your emails in that time. Delete, file, flag, categorize. After the time is up, move on before you become miserable. Repeat every day until you’re done.
16. Continue your creative marketing brainstorm. Now use the web: what have others done that might also work for your business? Read articles for suggestions. Looks at websites/social media of other companies, both in your field and completely different fields, for ideas.
17. Take your 3 favorite creative marketing ideas & act on them. Write out more details and sketch out what you envision. Contact professionals for quotes. Set a schedule of when you will launch them.
18. Create email templates. Think of the emails that you send that are largely the same and create a template for each one. A template will save you time when you copy & paste the bulk of the content and then just tweak the details. Think of emails that order, respond, confirm, direct, market, inquire.
19. Check your important documents. Update your employee handbook, make sure you have all OSHA-required documents in order, update employee evaluation forms. Make sure your insurance/licenses/permits/certifications are up to date.
My best wishes to you to make the most of your downtime! Now I need to go practice what I preach…
Please feel free to share with credit to the source: RachelLeRoyConsulting.com, March 31, 2020
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