How to Jumpstart Your Business After the COVID-19 Shutdown
on Thursday, June 11, 2020
As the economy begins to reopen and we grapple with the idea of a “new normal,” it’s critical that you have a plan in place to get yourself safely back on firm ground and your business back to success. Here are some steps you can take now to help ensure a smooth transition to the post-shutdown way of life and get up and running quickly.
Small local businesses make up about 47% of the total U.S. workforce, employing about 58.9 million people.1
The recent shutdown has forced companies to shift goals, refocus their teams, and react quickly to changing government guidelines. Maintaining this type of flexibility will remain essential going forward. Have you managed to stay flexible enough to rethink your short- and long-term plans and keep revenue coming in?
Getting back to (or beyond) your usual monthly income should be your No. 1 goal. Global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. suggests the following model to get your business SHAPE:
- S | Start-Up Mindset: A brand-new business must be able to move quickly and focus more on taking action and testing results and less on research and analysis, which can take months to review and implement. During the shutdown, you learned to be faster and more flexible: Look to that flexibility now as you define, plan, and ramp up your revenue-making activities.
- H | Human At The Core: How have your team members adjusted? You've seen their responses and learned something about how they have coped and thrived. Leverage that as you move forward! According to an April 2020 survey, 60% of businesses found that their new, remote ways of doing business were proving to be as effective (29%) or more effective (31%) than their traditional business models.2
- A | Acceleration of Digital, Tech, And Analytics: Build on the digital solutions you’ve recently adopted to create stronger connections with customers, whether that’s a new analytics tool you’ve been using, a new website with relevant information and tips, or new programs to help you showcase your products and services. Dig into any data you have to gain deeper insights into evolving customer needs and preferences.
- P | Purpose-Driven Customer Playbook: Use what you’ve learned to predict customer needs and values post-corona and let that guide you as you tweak and expand your services.
- E | Ecosystems & Adaptability: We’ve learned how a crisis can affect our relationships with our partners and how we work with them. Adaptability will be critical as you reestablish your working relationships and incorporate new and nontraditional partners into your revised business model.
Take what you’ve learned and commit to using your new knowledge to revise your long-term goals and practices. Review their strengths and weaknesses so you’re ready to take on whatever is thrown at you. It’s time to be proactive, not reactive.
Examine how you’ve managed to survive so far. Did you develop a significant following over social media? Did you send out a fantastic drip campaign that brought in more followers, or more business and referrals? Did you find that you were working faster and with more focus? Don’t lose that momentum!
You’ve revised your pre-coronavirus thoughts about your business and how you run it. Now you need to put the infrastructure in place to make those successful short-term changes permanent and kick off your plans for the future.
- Run Scenarios: While you’re planning for the most likely outcome, look at worst- and best-case scenarios as well. For example, how will you grow and thrive if states revert to stay-at-home orders for another six months? That will affect incomes, employment, travel, and partner businesses. At the same time, reviewing best-case strategy can help you focus on the critical employee and business relationships you’ll need when business suddenly gets back to booming.3
- Beef Up Your Long-Term Thinking: Reacting swiftly and decisively to situations as they come up is a skill you may have strengthened during the past few months, and it’s an essential skill to have. But you also need to be proactive. Will the hard-hit second home and luxury home markets recover this fall, or next year, or in five years? How will new construction survive the breakdown of logistics, such as the lack of transport for basic materials? How can you plan for these scenarios?
- Prioritize Digital Solutions: For some, increasing online customer interactions will be a good thing. Going digital with everything from appraisals to home tours to e-signings means clients will be able to buy a home basically from their own sofas, making the process seem less intimidating and much easier to tackle. The more processes you can automate and drive online, the stronger your position will be when a new national — or global — challenge arises.
Have you been able to revise all coronavirus-related information, changes, and offers on your website? If you’re not already on top of that, then you need to plan your strategy now. Who will take charge of revising your office hours and processing times, unlinking web pages devoted to coronavirus education and information, reverting drip campaigns and targeted marketing back to pre-virus language, and so on? That team needs to be put together and trained so they’re ready to jump into action when the time comes.
Communicating with clients and referral partners is key now. Your messages need to be forthright, honest, and timely. Be sure to emphasize the procedures you’ve adopted to keep clients and employees safe. Put together an email campaign to reconnect with past customers. Develop targeted messages letting clients and partners know you’re still in business and ready to assist them.
Redefining The Customer Experience
Providing solutions to address your clients’ problems is what business is all about. Here’s how to keep up with their changing needs.
- Gather your team to share best practices. What have they heard from customers? What strategies have been successful for them personally?
- Use surveys, comments, and feedback from clients to help shape your strategy.
- Address their pain points. You should be asking, “How can I help you?”, not saying, “Here’s what I have for you.” Listening is critical in order to serve your clients best and to keep your business relevant, solutions-focused, and customer-centric.
Combine high demand with rock-bottom interest rates and everything you’ve learned about moving quickly and flexibly into the new normal, and you may find that you can hit the ground running, and not just survive, but thrive.
 Harvard Business Review  McKinsey & Co.  Wipfli