With the current circuit-breaker measures in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation in Singapore, most businesses are affected and looking for ways to ensure business continuity and survival. The businesses that are quick to adapt and pivot seem to be staying afloat albeit still experiencing a drop in income. The rest who are still persisting in their old ways seem to be struggling to survive despite all the support from the government.
In this article, we will look at 10 essential steps that businesses can take to ensure they are able to survive during this time, and eventually rebuild and thrive when the situation returns to some semblance of normalcy. These steps are based on interaction with local businesses in Singapore, research of what is happening in the market, as well as our fundamental business coaching frameworks which have helped tens of thousands of businesses survive through the last few economic crises.
Step 1. Get in the Right Mind Space
One thing we need to realise, to overcome business challenges during this pandemic, panic and worry are the last things you want consuming your mind. The moment you are in that state, your creative juices will not flow and all the more you will sink deeper into helplessness.
If we can shift the way we perceive the situation, we will see the opportunities amidst the crisis. The key is to feed the mind with the right things. As much as we want to keep abreast with what’s going on, we need to manage our exposure to the “Doom and Gloom” kind of news in the media and learn to find and celebrate the small wins every day.
Step 2. Positive Communication
Once we are in the right space, it is time to be the beacon of hope to the important people in your business. Are you able to revisit your vision and goals and generate some positive energy and enthusiasm?
Then think of what message you want to send to your key people, your team, your customers, your suppliers and stakeholders. Why not extend it further, how about the people in your network and community?
Step 3. Change Your Business Model
In times like now when the market shifted so much and the restrictions imposed during this circuit breaker may have disrupted your business, it is key to learn to pivot and start creating shifts in your business. It may be several major pivots, it may be many small pivots.
To ensure that you are pivoting correctly, look at the opportunities still available at this moment in the market. How do you build some pivots that can be a permanent part of your business in the long run too?
When done right, this can elevate your business to the next level in the future. Otherwise, it may create some setbacks. Make sure you talk to your coach or mentor who can also advise you on what areas you can explore in making your business pivot during this Covid-19 lockdown.
Step 4. Cash Flow Management
This area is one of the most important. Ensure that you have sufficient cash for business survival. This will involve two aspects: cost management and credit extension. Look into the various areas where you can save some money while keeping some budget for outreach and marketing. Keep asking yourself, which parts of the business are currently cost centres, and how can we shift them into profit centres?
We are fortunate that in Singapore, the government has been trying their best to support the business continuity with various subsidies and schemes such as salary support and rental rebate policies. Make sure you are enjoying the benefit of these supports and continue the essential business activities: Sales and Marketing.
Step 5. Adapt Your Marketing Strategy
Next, look into your marketing strategy. What are people feeling at the moment and what will they respond to? You most probably have to tweak your marketing message from what you were doing before the Covid-19 situation.
This is the area that requires a lot of creativity. How do you inject compassion, positivity, or fun to ensure the marketing activities have a greater reach? Are you currently testing and measuring the effectiveness of your marketing campaign? If not, that is a must-have. Remember, marketing done right is an investment, otherwise, it is an expense.
Step 6. Go Online and Start Delivery Services
You may now want to look into your delivery channels. If you have not been working on your online presence and delivery services, now is probably the most crucial time to establish them. When people are stuck at home during this Work-From-Home period, if they can’t come to you, you better make sure you can deliver to their doorstep, or through the online channels. Quite a number of businesses in Singapore have adapted quickly and created expansions of their products and services offering. If you need some ideas on how this can be done in a fast and inexpensive way, do drop us a message.
Step 7. Focus on Customer Retention Strategies
When you need to make money fast, your existing customers are probably your most important people at the moment as it is always more profitable to get more transactions from your existing customers than get new ones. Of course, there will be some natural attrition of your existing customers during this time as buying power drops and companies cut their budget.
So in order to ensure business continuity, you need to look at various ways to maintain your customer retention and build their loyalty. How do you continue communicating with them and delivering that extra mile service to ensure they not only stay with you, but also refer more customers to you?
Step 8. Engage Your Employees
At this time, one of the biggest costs that is weighing down on a lot of business owners’ minds is probably manpower cost. At the same time, your employees are also the people that can help you survive and thrive through the crisis. For that to happen though, they have to be highly engaged. For them to be highly engaged and ready to fight the battle, as leadership you probably can benefit from some authentic communication and providing them with some psychological safety.
In certain situations, you may have to let go of some people. However, if you do not want to do that, you can explore reducing hours/days or even pay cuts across the board to ensure everyone can still stay on in the team.
If you have a slower pace at this moment, look into what you need to do in terms of training or retraining so that your team can shift from being cost centres to profit centres. Now is probably one of the best ways to invest some time and resources on that to get the team well equipped for a good comeback after the worst is over.
Step 9. Understand the Economic Cycles
We need to get reminded that the economy has cycles and seasons. After such a long economic summer where Singapore was thriving for an extended period of time, now we have an unexpected economic fall and winter due to the virus. Eventually, the spring will come, and eventually it will be summer time again. This is not the first crisis we encounter, and it probably won’t be the last.
The question is now, what do you do during this economic winter, to ensure that you will have a big harvest during spring and subsequent summer? Your course of action will probably determine the eventual outcome for your business.
Step 10. Plan for 90-Days at a Time
Having gone through the previous nine steps, it may be overwhelming to think of everything that needs to be done to ensure the business can continue to survive and later on thrive. So it is crucial for us to come up with a 90-day business plan that gives clarity on your priorities and provides markers and milestones that are easy to follow.
Focus on your survival plan first, then push for growth after you ensure your business can withstand the storm. If you have challenges crafting your plan or staying accountable to the plan, ensure you get a coach or mentor to give additional perspective and hold you accountable to your plan.
If you would like to do your 90-Day business continuity planning with the guidance of a coach with other fellow business owners to brainstorm and share strategies with, check out our 90-Day Business Planning Session at the following link and submit an enquiry on the next available date.
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