How to Use the Downtime to Your Advantage
It’s no secret that businesses across the world are experiencing a downtime right now, and it can be hard to keep yourself and your workforce motivated during a time of relatively low activity. If you are lucky enough to have enough business to avoid needing to furlough staff or downsize, you’re already in a great position, but you should be looking to capitalize on the global downtime and use it to your advantage. Here are some ways for you to do just that.
Focus on Your Website
How does your website look? When was the last time you updated it? For most businesses, websites aren’t updated as often as they should be. Some businesses even get by without having one and instead just using a profile on different social media accounts. Not giving your website enough TLC is a sure-fire way to miss out on business, which can have negative effects in the long term. While you have some downtime, take advantage of it: sit down and think about your online presence and strategy. What messaging do you want your site to put across? Have you thought about SEO yet?
All these questions can help you to attract and keep clients. If your competitors don’t have a professional, attractive website that is search engine optimized, don’t feel reassured by that norm—see it as a potential way for you to get a huge advantage. If you take the time to invest in SEO practices including content creation, you will have a much easier time in the future when your competitors start optimizing too.
Focus on Your People
As a business owner, you are in a position where you are a leader of your employees. Don’t squander that position, as if you use it to create a happy, specialized workforce, you will find higher productivity, efficiency, and profits in the longer term. If you are lucky enough to not have to cut employee costs, now is the perfect time for you to instead invest in your employees. If they are unable to work at full efficiency, why not take advantage of that and arrange for them to partake in some extra training. VU online courses are an excellent way to increase business awareness and understanding if you are anticipating the downtime to last a bit longer.
Upskilling yourself and your people is effectively like giving your company an upgrade. It will allow you to tackle problems in a different, often more efficient light, as well as create a company culture that is both informed and productive. Don’t feel like any money spent on upskilling your workforce has the potential to be wasted if a particular employee leaves. Your new company culture will encourage equally skilled workers to apply for jobs, and you will enjoy long-term benefits.
Ensure That Your R&D Plan is on Course
As a business, you should be undertaking various research and development (R&D) tasks as part of your growth strategy, as these are essential to staying ahead of your competition, increasing profitability, and even opening up new sales channels if you are developing new products. However, as research and development is rarely a “do or die issue,” it is easy to neglect its importance. If you are struggling financially, there are typically excellent R&D incentives to get your research going cheaply, as governments understand that good R&D does not only further a company, it furthers a whole industry.
If R&D isn’t appropriate for your business, there must be some testing that you can do. Whether it is ergonomic testing, A/B testing for online companies, or testing out new products to incorporate into your processes, there is always opportunity for trying out new approaches that can benefit your margins. While you have the time, why not?
Look at Your Marketing Strategy
If you are limited by sales instead of production or if you’re not at full capacity, what better time is there to revamp your marketing efforts? Many companies develop a marketing strategy as they go along, which is enough to survive and meet several short-term goals, but if you haven’t taken the time to develop a detailed and thoughtful marketing strategy you could be at a significant disadvantage. If your competition has a stronger marketing strategy than you, you will find yourself missing out on opportunities that they are in a position to poach from you.
If you feel like a reactive, short-term marketing plan is fine for your business, you should definitely read some marketing books while you have a bit of time. Storybranding is a great read if you have given your branding only basic thought, and Seth Godin’s oeuvre will open your eyes up to the reality of a thoughtful and strategic marketing campaign.
At the very least, you should understand how branding works; what brand archetypes are and why offering a personality that fits with the personality of your target market is so important. If you don’t have as many repeat customers as you would like, or if you are not attracting as many customers as you would like with your existing marketing efforts, the culprit could be that you are not selling an attractive enough brand to a specific enough target market. Effective marketing involves a good awareness of your customers’ needs, desires, aspirations, and personalities; while you have some downtime, you might want to dedicate some time to interviewing or surveying customers to learn more about them.
Reconsider Your Offerings
Do you offer any products that simply aren’t performing very well? Without a clear reason for poor performance, it is easy to put that down to luck, but if they take up space and money you might want to look for alternatives that will be more attractive to your customers. You should also use any downtime to focus on new and exciting trends that will show your customers that you are an industry expert that evolves with the market. By being attentive to new industry developments that your customers may want, you not only open up new ways of driving sales, but you will reduce the customer churn that comes from customers looking to satisfy their needs elsewhere.