24CA94B3-B84B-43FA-B544-A42D8F7D933F The Top 3 strategies for keeping your business going during a pandemic recession and how to bounce back quickly. - Business Growing Pains 24CA94B3-B84B-43FA-B544-A42D8F7D933F

Andrew Brabant

Have you worked out options for your business during this time?

The largest ‘growing pain’ that businesses are having at this time, is that their businesses have stopped or are shrinking. Let’s face it, we never envisioned a pandemic as our next growth problem to overcome but overcome it we must.

While that is true, we have a number of clients that sell their products online or offer training products and we have seen their ecommerce sales increase during the last two months. They are the minority.

We have put together some strategies with a number of clients for their businesses to forge ahead and keep operating. We are sharing this in the hope that you can either take some ideas and apply them to your business, or feel confident to contact us to assist you directly.
While these strategies were designed specifically for each client with whom we worked, you may see an idea that may suit your situation, or consider the benefit of speaking to us to assist your particular position.

There are some businesses that will need to temporarily close at this time in order to preserve funds, with the intention of reopening in the near future when the economic climate brightens. I have one of these myself, an online store for Ski products, that won’t be viable for a while. 

Also, in today’s enforced Covid 19 business climate my clients in hospitality and entertainment have found that it is not possible to offer anything to their clientele. Excluding thoses café’s and restaurants offering take-aways, and delivery service.

So to help where it may, we have laid out some strategies that are working for a number of the businesses we work with and advise:

  1. Business Pivot
  2. Asset Building
  3. Overhead reduction

Business Pivot.

Pivot is the hot topic on business owners’ lips at the moment. 

A business or product pivot is a term that originates with software companies in Silicon Valley.  The theory is that when your product idea is not working, you identify the one feature or idea that is getting traction and pivot to make that feature your main product.

The feature pivot is very different from the pivots that businesses are taking advantage of during this pandemic crisis. The business or product pivot we are seeing is how to offer your current business products or services to your existing customers in a way that they can consume it from their imposed isolation.

Recently we have seen a whole range of pivots that have been creative and successful and they don’t all involve home delivery. Here are some examples that we thought worthy of a mention.

  1. We have had two beauty industry manufacturers who have increased their range to include hand sanitizer. One manufacturer has been producing a range of moisturiser and anti-aging serums. They approached an alcohol distiller and have formed a joint venture to manufacture, bottle, package and distribute online, a spray-based sanitizer solution.
  2. The boutique brewery who once made additional turnover through brewery tours and events and functions, have been promoting their home delivery service through Facebook, in their local area. They have also promoted neighbour rates, where if you get five of your neighbours to order a carton, then you get free delivery and free neoprene coolers
  3. The window washing company that offers their house / building washing service using a special soft-wash formula that has chlorine as an active ingredient to kill Covid 19 virus
  4. The Medication and Wellness resort that is offering video-based classes including Yoga, Meditation and counselling. They have now added workshops through a learning management system and are offering bottled health juices online
  5. A pool builder is offering pool renovations and heat pumps, so that users can swim all year round. Especially right through winter while the family is stuck at home in social isolation.

It may be that a pivot is not appropriate for your business, however, think about your customers and your core and secondary offers and how they can be sold and shipped online. Think about if you can partner with other businesses to help them and you both. We have a large fruit and veg business, who is working with one of their wholesale suppliers. They are using their trucks to deliver fruit and veg boxes to people’s homes. 

Asset Building

Why should you build assets during a pandemic?

And what do you mean by asset building you ask immediately.

An asset is anything that has an intrinsic value or essentially earns income actively or passively for your business, without you having to do the work yourself. An employee is a leased asset. It can earn you money while you lease it / pay wages, and when you stop, the asset and the training goes away.  Not so reliable.

A building is an asset that you can earn rent from, but hard to purchase during a recession or business close down. 

A digital asset however is always yours. You only have to create it once, you can duplicate it at no cost if you wish to, you can offer it to everyone that needs it, you can offer it anywhere in the world and shipping is free. The entry point is low and you can improve it over time. 

In addition to all these, businesses are still selling, building and giving away digital assets during a pandemic. The demand for education has gone through the roof as consumers need entertainment, up-skilling and a new future.

In this contemporary digital landscape, you are better off creating tangible assets, in the form of, branding, software, intellectual property, websites, and other digital assets, that improve the value of your business.  

You may be thinking that there is no value for your business to create a software product. You may think it’s not your core business and would be expensive and crazy to invest the time and money.  

You may be right.

However, Ask yourself these two questions.  

  1. In a business landscape this disrupted, how do I stand apart from my competitors?
  2. What would benefit my customers and my competitor’s customers so much that they will remain with or switch to my business? 

Food for thought

How could you viably use this in your business?

  1. Improve your current systems
    1. Move your systems to the cloud and reduce overheads and software costs.
    2. Evaluate some new project management, job costing or production software. Make sure you are leveraging the best of breed for your industry
    3. Archive and re-file your documents, making it easier for staff to find the information
    4. Train your staff on the better to use their systems
    5. Implement a cloud-based CRM software and start using automated emails to stay at the top your client’s mind in their database.
  2. Profile your ideal customer and create a persona template that you can use to improve the messaging in your marketing to close more business.
    1. Work out what entices and stimulates your customers and what may have changed in the last 5 years. We have a software company who is still selling desktop software and their client’s don’t want to be in the office any longer, they want to be onsite where the jobs are happening. Is it time to start using a cloud version of your software.
  3. Update your website twice a year – most websites are out of date after 6 months in one way or another. It could be style, information accuracy or brand messaging.
    1. Your website is your face to the world. Make sure you are not wearing the equivalent of an 80s paisley tie.
    2. Is your website designed for mobile phones, with long scrolling pages instead of large menus?
  4. Improve your website’s conversion. Stop thinking about your website as a digital business card that says ‘we do …’ and ‘we were established in xxxx’ 
  5. Think about what the visitor wants to know, and not what you want to sell them. Speak to their number 1 problem and how your business solves that problem for them. Evaluate every page with the following to remove the ‘noise’:
    1. Is there any information on the page, that a prospective customer wouldn’t ask in an enquiry phone call? Does it need to be there?
    2. Do your pages have a strong call to action? Call us for a quote, Download our free brochure, Get a Free Trial
    3. Do you have an FAQ section on the site
    4. Do you talk to the feature benefits of the product or service? What’s in it for the customer?
    5. Do you tell a story about a customer’s success or have any testimonials building trust with the visitor?
  6. Improve your brand. Maybe it is time to bring your brand and logo up to date. It will make you appear more authoritative and up to date.
  7. Go out to your good customers and ask for some Google Reviews. This will boost your organic rankings in Google and get you more enquiries. This is the cost of a phone call.
  8. Record some how-to videos on how to use your product, how your industry works, how to solve problems. We have a client who is a wills and estate lawyer. They have a podcast and video FAQ videos, where their senior partner reads questions from the podcast comments and answers the questions on video. It drives a lot of enquiries. People see him as generous and trustworthy.
  9. Write some blog pages on your website, on how your client’s have solved their problem and improved their lives, home, business, family etc
    1. Remember that Google is an Answers engine. It answers how do I, do this, fix that, find this, find the best, find the closest. If you are a gym, a lawyer or a wedding planner and you write about the best way to solve their 3 main burning issues, then you will not only show that you understand your customers problems intimately, but also that you are able to solve their problems. Google will index your blog article and when a prospect Google’s how do I fix my XYZ, then Google will see their question being answered on your blog page and see it as valuable to the searcher.
  10. Record some staff training videos. We do this for our business using Loom. It is great. it has your face in a corner of the screen while you show a slide deck or display your mouse cursor on the screen. Great for training with software systems.
  11. You appear organised to new employees and streamline the process of onboarding. A prospective buyer views these as real assets to the business.
  12. Build a digital asset you can sell online. E-learning is projected to reach over 300 billion in the next five years.
  13. Learning management systems, are commodities. Video is easy to produce. Recordings are easy to make. We have all the tools to help you, we just need you to discuss your knowledge for it to be presented so that it provides value to the purchaser. Maybe it’s time for you to offer your own course for sale. However, as a caution on this; There are many self-promoting experts who are regurgitating other people’s information without having the knowledge or expertise themselves. Don’t be one of those. You need to actually have done or be qualified in what you are training people on.
    1. We have a client who specialises in workplace negotiations. They have a course that HR managers and others can purchase and use for managing staff dismissals the correct way. Ouch!
    2. We have a chef that sells a digital version of his favourite seasonal recipes, including technique videos. This works if you have a following. (Brand)
    3. The most profitable online training subjects this year are:
      1. Computers & Technology – building websites etc
      2. Business & Entrepreneurship
      3. Arts & Crafts
      4. Health & Fitness
      5. Personal development
      6. Education
      7. Career Development
      8. Creative Production 

Do Your Own Research

Before you race off and start spending hours working on a new online version of your business, 

You should ask yourself and your team; what assets are going to make my business sustainable in the future? I am not talking about a pivot here, I am talking about remodelling your business for sustainability to weather the disruption in whatever form it comes in: pandemic, global recession, war, or a new competitor in the market.

Do your research! 

Look at what your competitors are doing and look at market leaders outside of your industry. Find inspiration and confirmation of your direction, by seeing who has done it successfully.

Overhead Reduction.

A business owner’s role is to ensure the survival and success of their business. Many businesses can be described as a leaky vessel. The same rate at which the money is going in, it is going through and out the hole in the bottom. The larger of the holes could be described as overheads. These include staff wages, lease on premises, marketing costs, business leases to name some of the larger ones that are manageable when the money is coming in during normal times, however when income halts, it is your job to negotiate the hell out of these arrangements to ensure you are still a business in six months or whenever you are ready to re-float.

In this day and age, there is no shame in being a tough business negotiator, you need to be for your survival.

Staff Wages.

This is a tough one. No one wants to terminate a reliable and loyal staff member’s employment and disrupt their financial position, however for the firm to survive, sometimes you must.

Where possible, apply for Job Keeper allowances and be pragmatic and sensible about your business prospects. Let go of the staff you can do without and put the others on a reduced income.  

Lease on premises.

If you are in a lease, negotiate with the leasing agent or go directly to the owner and find out what they will accept as partial coverage of the lease. If you are not in a current lease period or near to the end, move your business into a smaller location, share office space, move to a house where the lease is cheaper than your CBD location. If you don’t have staff or clients coming to your premises, then you don’t need them to be expensive.

Marketing Costs

This is an interesting one. We handle digital marketing campaigns for around 200 clients. We predominantly use Facebook Linkedin Youtube and Google Ads for marketing their products and services. About a month ago, we saw a large number of clients put a pause on their marketing. We also saw a number of them that kept their marketing going. While we saw a drop off, we noted that a number of the clients that kept their marketing going, found that the enquiries were more qualified and ready to sign up, purchase or get a quote. The actual number of sales was not disappearing but dropping only by a percentage of 10 to 20%.

While cutting marketing cost will cut costs, it will also very sharply cut income also and stop the bucket from filling at all.

Be wary of this strategy, particularly if you have a product that people still need or have planned for. 

Business Equipment / Vehicle Leases.

Time to swallow your pride and dump the expensive cars and anything else that you can get out of, without massive penalties. Business leases are a drain on your company, and you need to work that much harder to maintain them. Keep to the essentials:

  • Keep the computers, send back the rented photocopier printer.
  • Keep the delivery van and send back the Mercedes
  • Make the receptionist redundant and get rid of the leased phone system. Get a virtual receptionist that will send a txt message to the person that the call is for.

Examine all your expenses under a microscope. If you have $5k in lease costs per month, you probably have to turn over $50k just to service it. Be sensible and phone your suppliers. Many will have a long-term view and be sympathetic to your issues.


It’s possible that your business is ill equipped to actively maintain business or keep offering your core services during this global disruption. This is not uncommon. Your clients’ businesses are affected too, they can’t keep using you or simply your business relies on public gatherings which is not sustainable.

Those particularly affected are often service, hospitality and brokerage style businesses where they have no actual tangible assets other than clever marketing or a client base. Take the real estate agent who sells other people’s assets or the stock broker. During a global recession, these businesses and their employees are often unable to make sufficient turnover to maintain their business overheads. For these businesses it is advisable for them to diversify into other aligned areas like property rentals / management and consulting.

In our book, there is no point sitting staring at the wall. You need to get up and do something. I heard a line the other day and I can’t remember who it was that said it, but it went:

If you swapped lives with Richard Branson and he had your bank account and you had his, and then one year later, you swapped back again, do you think your account would still have the same balance as it does today?

My other favourite comment that I like to live by, is that there are no failures, only successes and learning experiences.

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