What You Need to Prepare Your Business for Tough Times (and How to Do It Effectively)
What do you do when the going gets rough? In recent years, we’ve all experienced issues in our business related to global events or economic downturns. But, unfortunately, what's happening "over there" can have a massive impact on your small business.
When times get tough, some businesses perish while others not only survive but thrive. You can get through it with flying colours too. The key is to prepare well.
What Can Happen and How Can It Affect You?
There are several things that can happen anywhere in the world and have a direct effect on your business.
Economic Downturns. Economic difficulties can squeeze the market, your customers, or you, forcing everyone to reevaluate how they spend money. Even a financial crash on the other side of the world can be felt locally. You'll then have to figure out how to meet your customers' changing needs while your budget is also strained.
Global Pandemic. In the last few years, we’ve all felt the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. People stayed home more, causing difficulties for small businesses, some of whom closed their doors. Labour shortages and supply chain problems have also trickled down to small local businesses.
Climate Change. Weird weather patterns caused by climate change are already causing disruptions worldwide. Even close to home, heatwaves, droughts, and extreme temperatures have caused supply chain problems and economic hardship.
Cyberattacks. Cyberattacks are increasing at an alarming rate. No business, no matter how small, is safe. For example, a significant cyberattack could bring down a city's power grid, which would cause many problems for businesses and individuals alike.
War. A conflict, even in a far-flung part of the world, can significantly impact supply chains and the globalized economy.
Personal Problems. Tough times don't come only from global pandemics and military conflicts. Health, financial, or emotional issues in your life, or the lives of members of your market, could have a massive impact on your business.
Why You Need to Plan for Tough Times NOW
Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that they're safe for now. They know these problems are on the horizon but figure they'll cross that bridge when they come to it. After all, resources are already stretched now when times are good.
But once tough times strike, it's already too late. This is why you need to start planning and developing strategies now that you can implement before the effects of a disaster are felt. Lay this groundwork, and it will be smooth sailing even when other businesses are struggling.
What makes the difference between businesses that perish during tough times and ones that survive? It's having the right attitude.
The right attitude to weather tough times is to stay positive. You have to meet the challenges with confidence and a success-oriented mind. Things might get tough, and you may need to make some drastic changes, so you need to be optimistic about coming out thriving on the other side.
A positive attitude also gives you motivation. You'll need this to keep pushing forward when things get complicated. It's easy to give up when the challenges seem insurmountable.
One more reason you need a positive mindset is that it will help you cope effectively with stress. It's very easy to get overwhelmed when things are rapidly changing. So it would help if you had some effective stress reduction strategies when things get rough.
Boost Your Brand
If your business has a memorable brand, this will help you sail through tough times. During a financial squeeze, customers have less to spend on products and services they need. As a result, they will stop buying from most but continue buying from brands that uniquely meet their needs and share their values.
Working on your branding now when times are good, and you have the resources would be best. What do you want to be known for? How do your customers see your brand? What unique strengths and core values do they respond to? And how do you stand out from the competition?
Answer the above questions and formulate this into a brand strategy. Use data from the market to create a strong brand. Reinforce these brand values during tough times, and your audience will keep buying from you even when they’re in a pinch.
Another thing that will help you succeed during tough times is to offer great value. If you consistently provide unbelievable value, there's no reason for your customers to go anywhere else, even if a competitor provides similar goods and services for a lower price.
The best way to offer great value is to over-deliver. Gain an understanding of what your customers expect and go above and beyond. When you do this, you create a “wow” experience. Customers feel surprised and delighted, which will keep them buying from you.
How do you create this “wow” experience? There are several ways. One is to offer outstanding service like free follow-up support or free shipping. Another is to give your audience unexpected freebies or access to paid products. Whatever you offer, make it a surprise with no strings attached and do it regularly.
Provide the Right Help
You can provide even better service and value to your customers if you can help them in this time of need. For example, some companies offered daily news updates on Covid-19 during the global pandemic. Is there any way you can provide support related to their problems or help them save money or time?
Another way you can help during tough times is by providing diversion. People who are stressed about things happening in the world need something fun and light to get their minds off it.
You can offer this kind of help by communicating well with your audience and ensuring you understand their needs. Find out what they’re going through and look for ways you can help.
Up Your Content Game
When times are tough, resources get pinched. Unfortunately, you don't have as much budget for going out and grabbing new customers. As a result, you may have to scale back your advertising and outbound marketing. However, you can mitigate this by increasing your inbound marketing.
The best inbound marketing strategy for the digital age is content marketing. With plenty of content published regularly, you’ll keep attracting new customers to your business without needing outbound resources. This is a more effective and lower-cost alternative.
How well do you know your customers? Please spend some time gathering feedback, so you know the issues and problems they face. Then, you can use your expertise to create content that helps them solve these issues. Create an editorial calendar and publish your content. Even when budgets tighten, you'll have this material bringing in new leads.
How to Coast Right through Tough Times
Whether tough times have affected your business yet or not, they're inevitably on their way. Be proactive and prepared; you'll find it easy to keep your customers with you and come out thriving on the other side.