During these uncertain times a healthy diet, long walks, watching old movies, and keeping in touch with friends, will put you on the right path to maintaining your personal health. But you cannot overlook the fact that the health of your business contributes to your personal well-being. Since there are so many uncertainties for which we do not have immediate answers or solutions, entrepreneurs should make use of this unscheduled free time resulting from the slow-down in the economy due to COVID-19, to plan for tomorrow.
Planning will keep your mind active and contribute to your overall health. Try to turn the uncertainties into opportunities. The process starts with an idea. An idea can be converted into an action plan, and when the action plan is converted into a financial plan, you can determine if the idea is feasible and profitable. You can then decide if it is a “go” or a “no go.”
Here are some options to help you plan for what’s next:
Update Your Web Site: An informative web site is the most effective way to stay in touch with your clients, your vendors and your prospects. If possible, include testimonials. They add authenticity to your story. If you are expanding your products or services, expanding your market, or altering your pricing, your website is the way to get the message out to all parties. Does your website provide a link for on-line payments? Check with a merchant service company and make certain that the company you select is compatible with your web hosting company. You may have to make some changes if you want to accept direct on-line payments.
Strategic Planning: Prior to updating your website, evaluate the need for a new strategic plan. Are your current policies adaptable or should you consider changes? Will exporting to a new market increase sales? Do you need to consider changes in management policies? Do you need funding for these changes?
Your Mailing List: Is it current? Does it include mobile phone numbers so that you can text rather than email? Shop for the best site that meets your marketing needs. There are many options. Once you mailing list is updated and you have created appropriate categories, send a message to customers, vendors and prospects informing them of your new on-line services.
Blog and/or a Newsletter: You may consider starting a blog or a newsletter. Make certain that you have installed the appropriate software so you can easily facilitate circulation. Keep you clients informed and updated as to opportunities; informing your clients about current market changes makes you an expert in your field.
Diversification: You should consider expanding your product line or your services. In times of uncertainty, create more options for your clients, your customers, or your patients. You want them to do all their shopping on your website and keep them from going to your competitors’.
Marketing Online: How do you plan to get new buyers to your web site? You may have the time and the talent to handle your own SEO, or you may want to hire an experienced SEO company. For that service you may need to access capital.
Your Credit: The best advice I can provide to all entrepreneurs is to maintain a good personal credit score. A low FICO score can double the cost of borrowed funds, or you might not be eligible for any borrowed funds if you are considered a credit risk. A FICO score of 680 or better will usually provide the most favorable rates to prospective borrowers, regardless of whether you plan to buy a home, or a car, or access capital for your businesses. It is possible that you may need to borrow funds to reposition your company for the post pandemic market. A good credit score will open the door and provide options, but I always advise clients to separate business loans from personal business loans. Business loans, through the use of credit cards or bank loans, should be made to business entities. Yes, you will probably be required to support the loan with a personal guarantee, but the loan should be the obligation of the business, and business loans should not be used to pay off personal credit obligations.
Your Financial Records: Always keep your business financial records current. “Current” is defined as the most recent fiscal quarter. Records can be maintained on software such as QuickBooks so that with a click you can provide good financial records, both current and historical to parties that have an interest in funding your company.
We live in an unpredictable world, but as a business owner you cannot wait for alarming news from the media to decide to take action. You have to be pro-active. Use a few hours of your unscheduled time to plan for the post-pandemic phase of your business. No one expects to return to the old days and the old ways, so let’s prepare for our new era now!