2020: the future has been crazy so far, amiright? I am typing this out in mid-March and here is where we’re at: the fear of coronavirus has turned into actual cases on US soil (but it is still relatively contained). It has also spread to widespread cancellations of gatherings and events, some that are still weeks out! I’m currently mourning the cancellation of The Creativeworks Skill Camp at the end of April, the kick in the butt I needed to learn Illustrator. Anyhow, I digress . . .
It’s one thing to stock up on toilet paper and pasta to prepare, but are you also prepared for the long-term effects on your business? Much of my yearly revenue comes from live events (some of which are in spring) and wholesale sales to stores. If we look to Italy as the worst-case scenario that may be headed our way in the coming weeks, umm NO ONE will be shopping in those stores and all of those live events will be cancelled.
But here’s the thing: it’s all scary stuff, but you can turn it into a win. One of my favorite aspects of small business ownership is flexibility! If there was ever time to flex that muscle, this is it. As the experts have been saying: PREPARE, don’t panic. Here’s a list of things I’m prepared to do in the downtime that coronavirus has imposed upon me and my business:
1. Revisit my website and my online client journey.
If my customers aren’t out and about shopping for gifts and greeting cards, it doesn’t mean the need for gift-giving stops! I expect that there will be a large shift toward online sales as folks are cooped up in quarantine.
Take this opportunity to try to look at your website with fresh eyes: are your keywords working for you? Is it EASY for customers to shop? Do your photos need a refresh? What about your shipping emails, your pop-ups, and other messaging? Is it time to retire some products or redesign/refresh others? How’s your branding look- does it match what you’re selling?
2. Show up on social (or email, or wherever).
There are scores of articles online telling you the “best” times to be posting on social. I ignore all of them and try to post when I know I would be online: around meals, when I’m relaxin or in bed (I know, I know . . .), and in the morning. And you know when folks are going to be online? ALL OF THE TIME, when they are going stir-crazy, quarantined in their homes. SHOW UP. Sign up for Tik Tok and make fun videos that tie to your brand. Pin your heart out on Pinterest. Plan out your month of Instagram posts with Planoly. You’ve tweaked your website to the best of your ability, now get some customers over there!
3. Work on long term projects.
If you’re anything like me, you might have a to-do list that involves projects that will most certainly take weeks to accomplish. Now is the time! One of those projects for me is creating a workflow for my product-based business. I’ve been using ClickUp and it’s great for my to-do-list-centric brain. I’m hoping to write another post about it soon! There are so little resources out there for this type of thing! Anyhow, I plan to use it as a guidebook for a future hire. Full disclosure: it is taking forever. And I’m okay with it! I know this time investment now is laying a great foundation for business growth down the road.
4. Take on a new project I’ve been meaning to get to!
The first thing that comes to mind is my goal of creating an online course. Guess what: that doesn’t involve any human contact, just a camera, tripod, and editing software! This would be the perfect time to get in to it. Also, I have had the goal of creating more downloadable files for customers- it’s evergreen and a nice passive income.
What kind of project have you had on your list for forever that never seems to make it to the top? The more people see you doing what you love and putting it out there, the more people will want to pay you for that thing in the future. So even if you’re not earning during this downtime, I firmly believe that doing the work you want will lead somewhere great, even if it’s not where you expected to end up.
While this post is timely for small businesses dealing with the effects of coronavirus in the US, it’ applicable ANY time you have downtime in your small business. Maybe you’re between day-jobs, it’s a slow time of year, it’s an economic recession, whatever the reason may be. Slow sales and open days on the calendar can be scary and easily drag you down. Why not flip the script and seize your free time as an opportunity to do all the things you’ve always wanted to do?
Thanks for taking the time to read- I’d love to hear about what you’re spending your quarantine time working on for your small business in the comments below!