It seems the only way to survive business downtime in a crisis is to make sure your business is available and accessible online.
As we have all recently experienced, a crisis can cause some quite significant changes to occur. Not just customer wise but also restriction wise. Many businesses such as hairdressers, beauty salons, builders, retailers and all companies deemed “non-essential” by the government were forced to stop trading.
When you’re in business, no matter what it’s size, the aim of the game is to increase revenue year on year, plan and prepare for these kinds of events and keep things running smoothly in order not to affect the companies cashflow. Many companies did not foresee anything like the covid-19 outbreak coming and had not planned for it. In 2020, using this guide, you’ll be able to future proof your business and adapt, so you’re never put in this situation again.
How Can Businesses Succeed In A Crisis?
It’s one thing having a website but its another thing putting it to work. With the right web copy, SEO, e-commerce abilities and online resources for your current and future customers, your website could become your virtual shopfront enabling you to keep your store open 24/7 and your income flowing. Getting yourself established online is essential to the survival of your business.
How Can Different Businesses Earn Money Online?
Service Providers & Retailers
If you are a service provider, crises’ like the coronavirus pandemic, wars and other attacks can force a business to stop. This has been the case for beauticians, children’s entertainers, handymen and mechanics throughout the UK.
With the government announcing it would take three months to help self-employed directors, the time to act and put something in place is now.
Service providers should turn their websites into portals, with online stores, tutorial videos and purchasable digital downloads. Here are some top tips on how you could earn extra money from your site and social media platforms like youtube while your “real-world” income halts:
YouTubers can make substantial amounts of money – investing in video marketing is a great way to share your knowledge online with people looking for ways to do a job themselves. Sharing what you know can help people, but if posted on social media platforms like youtube, you’ll also have the opportunity to earn additional income.
Write An Online Course
Witing a course based on your knowledge is a good idea. There are people in this world that may pay for your know-how, and they may want to invest in an online course and get a certificate from your company so they can improve their own skillset. Online courses can be found on sites like Skillshare, and you can also add a course on to your website. Online courses range from full qualifications to a certificate in a particular subject, e.g. Certificate In Pricing Up Jobs. It could be super easy or challenging.
Utilise Virtual Reality
Many retailers have closed their stores for financial reasons because of high rent rates and also because they’re not competing as well with major online retailers like Amazon. The issue is that even sites like Amazon don’t have the best browsing ability. If you are a shop owner but are worried that you may not be able to continue in business, then invest in VR shopping for your customers to enable them to shop online, but in a live store environment. This is the future of retail — crisis or no crisis. Virtual Reality can also be utilised by kids entertainers to provide remote parties, teachers to provide remote teaching and for online courses to teach things like mechanics and even how to fly a plane!
Create Digital Downloads
If you are a carpenter, chef, graphic designer, office, party planner etc., you could utilise your skills to create digital downloads for your website that other people could download and use. Some great ideas for digital downloads include party plan templates, woodworking plans, diary printouts, recipes, and how-to guides, graphic design templates and more. Templates sell very well online and could help to provide you with a second income should your usual business activities come to a halt.
Food Manufacturers & Suppliers
Luckily for the general population, groceries from supermarkets can be purchased online and delivered to your door. Still, as seen during the coronavirus pandemic, supermarkets and supply chains can find it challenging to meet the demand.
With many people in quarantine, self-isolation, on lockdown or without public transport getting groceries delivered was a challenge. Many online shoppers were looking elsewhere for groceries, and essential items like hand wash and toilet roll because they couldn’t get to the stores themselves and delivery slots were all taken.
Those ranking on the top pages of search engines for items that people were in great need of would have been easy to purchase. Supply chain companies relying on the normal wholesale logistical methods of sale and delivery could not get their stock out fast enough through their method of supply. Massive changes must be made now to prevent this in the future, and this means more companies are required to sell directly to consumers online.
If you manufacture anything for consumption, you must get your products online, in your own website and get the website ranking online so that people can purchase directly from you in times of crisis. Doing this will protect you in many situations i.e.
- If you lose orders/contracts
- If your items become out of stock in supermarkets/supply chains
- Customers of your product may want to purchase directly from you
- Increase wholesale orders by making your product accessible to more suppliers who are looking for products like yours to sell.
How To Successfully Implement A Crisis Strategy
Now that we have established how your business can keep generating an income during times of crisis we need to determine how you can achieve this online and how digital marketing can put your business in front of the right customers when it needs to be.
Get Found Online – Digital Marketing
Getting found online is essential in our current times. When supermarket shelves run dry or activity centres are closed, people will look online to find and get what they need. If you are not present in search results, people won’t spend their money with you. It is as simple as that.
To improve your online presence you will need to increase your focus and spending on SEO, digital content and website improvement. This will ensure you get to where you need to be online when you really need to be there. Investing in an SEO retainer and building your online presence month to month will ensure your company has a seat on the top table.
Spread The Word – Social Media Marketing
Once your website is ready to take orders or bookings for online services, it would be a good idea to participate in a little social media marketing. There’s no greater way to spread the word of your products, ideas and services than by directly targeting the people who would benefit from them.
Improve your companies image, reputation and contactability by opening up your company to the public on sites like:
- Facebook and More.
Deliver Your Physical or Digital Products & Services
In times of crisis, it can be difficult to source production materials, especially if you are currently manufacturing from imported materials. In the long run, it would be best to consider sourcing your supplies from a UK based company or to find a UK based company for emergency supplies as overseas logistics has proven difficult in times of crisis like the Covid19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns between borders. Airfreight may be your only option, and that could be expensive.
Digital Products & Services
If you are providing online services like consulting, teaching, parties, tutorials or online retailing, then you may want to consider implementing some technology to assist you. VR can enhance a user’s online experience, live webinars and podcasts could be utilised.
Physical Products & Logistics
Consider delivering with your own vans and drivers or investing in futuristic modes of delivery like drone and electronic vehicle delivery or using existing distribution companies to hold your stock and deliver to stores and customers for you.
Companies like Amazon are thriving in the current climate as their distribution warehouses, and fast delivery options were designed to cope with the most challenging of situations.
Why Investing In Your Online Presence, Could Save Your Business?
Every business owner must put a contingency plan in place to protect them in times of trouble. The issue in society is that many do not have contingency plans and therefore fall victim in times of change.
There is no way for anyone to foresee what could impact our day to day lives in the future. Still, it is safe to say that with the number of satellites in our skies and the increased investment in electronics, energy and technology that our future in the online world is only just getting started.
Businesses That Have Benefited In Times Of Crisis
It’s good to know for companies and enterprises in the future to have an understanding of which companies survived and thrived during pandemics, wars and recessions.
By looking at which businesses survived and thrived, you will be able to copy and mimic what they have in place and use their knowledge for your own company.
While the rest of the economy tanks from the crippling impact of the coronavirus pandemic, business at the biggest technology companies held steady. Here are a few companies we could learn from:
In March 2020, Amazon said it needed to take on an additional 100,000 warehouse workers to meet with surging demand for goods purchased through their website.
Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook’s, announced that traffic for video calling and messaging had erupted.
In March 2020 Microsoft announced that the number of people using its software for online collaboration had increased by almost 40 percent in a week because of the coronavirus lockdown.
With cinemas across the country closed down due to the spread of the virus, Netflix subscriptions for its video and movie streaming service has soared.
Online Grocery Shopping Sites
Companies like Tesco, Asda & Sainsburys struggled to meet with consumer demand, meaning that not only were their shops limited by stock but their online shopping delivery availability was zero! Sites like Ocado closed down to fulfil orders because they could not keep up with surging demand and almost sold out of everything!
Examples Of Companies Who Have Adapted During Times of Crisis
In March 2020, the UK government announced that it needed manufacturers to invent, manufacture and supply hospitals with ventilators to meet with the surge in people requiring Intensive Care.
Some manufacturers responded and have put new ventilators into production when their usual businesses are non-medical related, and they were able to adapt and supply what was needed.
In the early hours of the 15th March 2020, Nick Grey, Owner of Gtech received a call from Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer for the British Government, asking if his company could assist in the manufacture of 30,000 medical ventilators and do it in as little as two weeks. When Nick realised the call was genuine, he felt the need to help and so he did!
According to CNN, Dyson also answered the government’s call for ventilators and is set to make 15,000, and they will be ready for delivery in early April.
The way all of these businesses got noticed, became famous and why we depend on them so much is because of their online presence. Without being known and accessible online or for purposeful manufacturing adaptability reasons, the businesses mentioned above may not have survived.