There are several steps entrepreneurs can take to overcome disruptions while growing business from the ground up.
We are living in unprecedented times. Business has been impacted severely across the world, and small business owners are facing times that we would not even have imagined in our wildest dreams. With the shutdowns in economies across the world and social distancing in full effect, small businesses have suffered as this has severely impacted day-to-day life.
The only choice we have been left with is to look forward to the post-pandemic era. I say this as a business owner myself, and having spoken to tens of entrepreneurs during the last three months, I have realized we still have hope.
Keep in mind, this is not an article on positivity and motivation, as my business too has personally suffered and struggled under the impact of the pandemic, especially given the fact that 90% of our business is based on travel alone. I fully sympathize with business owners and professionals who are trying to figure out a strategy to come out of the COVID-19 slump and have not yet found answers. Even the best business schools do not teach lessons in risk as much as we have gone through in the last few months.
That being said, my goal is to help you build a strategic plan that could help your business come out of the slump created by the ongoing impact of this global pandemic. I appreciate that readers may be from various industries, across geographies, and hence my suggestion is to take these points as strategic guidance, and work with your individual local and regional parameters to create the final strategy of action.
How do I know these three steps will work? Over the last 20 years, all I have done is use these strategies to overcome more than one financial crash, and now I am successfully using it to overcome the pandemic. These steps have worked for me and helped us create a seven-figure business in 12 years, and I am sharing them in the hope that they help you. Here are three steps that I have found to be very effective.
Thanks to the internet, all of us are connected. The way people interact with each other has changed, and we have seen a huge surge in the usage of digital technologies such as FaceTime, WhatsApp, video conferencing and other means of communication in the last few months.
This has also led many business services and features to be digitized. This includes online ordering for the food industry, supply chain management, education and other aspects. We need to recognize that during this pandemic, we have taken a huge leap forward, something that typically would have taken a decade.
My suggestion to you is to take an inventory of your digital presence online by answering some of the questions below:
- Does your business have a highly converting website?
- Can you deliver your goods and services online?
- Would you like to interact with your customers on social media?
- Can you automate processes within your businesses and go digital?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then undoubtedly your business would benefit from an online presence, unless you are already at the top of your game.
The next steps would be to establish or enhance your digital presence, to inform your prospective customers that you are available to serve them, and to connect with them online. While doing this, do not underestimate the power of your existing customer base; reach out to your customers, tell them about your new digital presence. The power of referrals is an amazing thing when it works in the right way.
The way we communicate has shifted for good. Start leveraging digital marketing, and go digital as much as possible. It will save you years of learning and will accelerate your growth dramatically.
Humans are differentiated from all other species by our ability to learn. We have the innate capability of rewiring the neural networks in our brain by doing new things, repeating the pattern, and putting our mind into a learning mode. This is the reason why apes cannot build skyscrapers and trees cannot run.
Since the dawn of time, our ancestors have worked to ensure progress for civilization. Imagine our early ancestors; had they not learned to learn, they would have been still hunters and gatherers.
Do not let the current pandemic dissuade you from thinking big and challenging your ideas.
Humans also have the ability to change and adapt to a fast-changing world. This is the reason why we reached the moon and are now at the cutting edge of innovation at the pace at which we are moving forward through technology, and many industries are developing, thanks to our strides in space travel, computer technology, 3D printing, nanomedicine and more.
Today, as a small business owner, you need to think differently and, in fact, constantly challenge yourself with new ideas. After all, running a business includes not only performing the tasks that are executed in the business but also planning growth, supporting the people that you serve through your profession (and the people who work for you), and how you add value to the rest of the world.
As a small business owner, the last few months have been an incredible opportunity to learn new skills. Nowadays, learning is as easy as opening up your laptop or smartphone, clicking on a learning app, and starting to learn – no night school, commuting to your classes after work, and sacrificing precious family time. Learning is available, literally, at our fingertips. You could be learning a new language, or learning about finance, economics, marketing or operations management, quite literally anywhere. We have to recognize that, in the era of relearning, learning is much easier than it ever has been.
As an entrepreneur, I suggest that you start looking at free learning options that can keep your mind busy, your faculties sharp and, as a result, you at the forefront of your industry. In addition to reading news and your usual publications, spend time on acquiring a skill. It could be learning a new language or a new skill set that is much needed in your business, such as graphic design or video editing. Start putting time consistently every day, every week and every month until you have done at least 100 hours of learning. Experts suggest that a 10,000-hour rule applies to becoming a master, but my recommendation is to get 100 hours to be fairly good at something.
Sometimes in a small business, you just need an incremental level of improvement to create exponential results. Please take learning very seriously to the extent that you have a weekly schedule of learning, whether self-managed or through an online live program. Start adding skills to your arsenal, right away. They pay off many times over.
Sometimes, at least seeing from personal experience, the biggest challenge that businesses face is that of execution. As a small business owner, you are always pulled in a different direction when you are trying to focus on the task at hand. This, my friends, is the life we live as entrepreneurs. The nature of business is such that leaders and managers always need to be the first person on everything, and the matter of putting out fires is not even a choice; it is a creed.
Execution, for me, is the culmination of all the ideas and all the plans that I have created, and to bring them to reality. Execution is difficult, and it is tough because you rely on many different factors to be successful, and yet you are the one who has to take the brunt of any failure.
One of the ways that I have personally succeeded in building a seven-figure consulting and speaking business is by doing the thing that needs to be done. I have not waited for results or other people to give me the opportunity to do what is in my hands, and that I can do, whether it has been calling people out of the blue, prospecting, sales, cold-calling or even building a new website. I have tried and done my best, given the tools that I have had and the time, energy, efforts, and resources that were available to me as a small business owner, and things did not all go south. Could I have done things differently? Of course, but did I succeed and move ahead? Yes, I did.
Please do not wait for things to be perfect and the circumstances to be 100% favorable for you before you even start executing. I can understand that in some circumstances you may not be able to do the thing that you need to do because of external dependencies. But by far, we all are able to do some aspect of execution that we should.
Take the example of the restaurant business during COVID-19. If you are a restaurant that is struggling today, or you would like to do something different for your business and you do not have a website, then start learning how to build a website! There are hundreds of resources available, including free videos available on YouTube and drag-and-drop web tools that walk you through the process of building websites. Many friends have benefited from this advice and gone ahead and built a website for themselves, saving cost and effort. This works really well when you are trying to conserve cash.
In some areas, you may want to seek external help and seek resources or freelance folks who can help you do things that you are unable to do because of time and bandwidth. One of the things that I refuse to accept is that you are incapable of doing something. We, my friends, are all capable of doing everything, but it is just a matter of choice, how much discomfort you can endure, and how much you are willing to learn.
If you are a business owner today, you need to make a plaque and hang it on a wall where you can see it every day. Execution is everything! It is your product out of the door. It is your food on the plates of your customers, and it is the results that you see in the balance sheet at the end of the month.
If you make execution a priority, then things will get easy, but if you make execution a difficult task for yourself, then doing business and getting the right results will be very difficult. I have always moved forward and gained by focusing on execution. There have been good days, and there have been bad days, but every single day that I perform execution, I win.
If you are a small- or medium-sized business owner, an entrepreneur or someone who leads teams, this is an incredible time in humanity. We have access to the greatest technology that ever existed, the ability to reach people and to deliver amazing and unforgettable experiences.
Go out there and be your best self because the world needs you!