Sometimes a self-employed, freelance business has to shut down for a while. Maybe the owner gets sick, or some other thing happens that causes a business interruption. The question for the day is, how do you restart a business after an absence, what do you do when that happens?
In any business, “goodwill” is the value we give a company’s name, reputation, logo, customers, website and similar intangible items. In the sale of a business, a value is placed on goodwill because that is one of the main things the new owner is buying.
In the case at hand, that goodwill is the key to re-booting the business. When you have run a business for a number of years, there are people who like you and who like doing business with you. So when restarting a business, the first and best thing you can do is tap into that:
• Call old customers, clients or patients. Let them know you are back in the game. Some will come back because they like working with you, others won’t because they moved on, but even in that case, they can help. Ask for referrals. Remind them why they liked working with you, explain your situation, and I bet some will help you build your business back up.
• Check in with your vendors. Vendors have a vested interest in seeing you succeed. If you do, presumably, you will buy more from them. So see if they have any contacts and ideas that can help you grow your business. Be sure to let them know you won’t forget who helped you get back on your feet.
• Remember the friends and family plan: As opposed to when you began your business, your people now know that you actually do know how to run a business. Therefore, asking for help and connections this time around should be easier.
• Get the ‘ol startup attitude back: Remember when you began your business, how much you hustled? You may have to do that again. Try things you have not tried in a long time, or things that you never tried because you didn’t have to. Put together some new marketing ideas, start small, test, see what works, and go for it. Who knows, it may be fun.
• Link In: The common refrain from pundits like me these days is to ‘make sure to use social media!’ While Facebook, Twitter, and Google + are fine and may help you in the long run, when re-starting a business, the one social media site that can be of most use is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is all about networking and helping. That is what you need now.
Check in with your LinkedIn network and let them know that you are back. Individually ask them to refer business to you. Use the search tool to see who else you could meet in your network’s network.
• The Plan: And let us suggest further that for any of us in business, this situation is a good reminder that having a plan to keep things running in your absence is smart. What sort of plan? It is pretty simple. It would entail:
• A written document that explains what needs to be done, every day, week, and month.
• Someone trained who is familiar with the duties outlined in the document.
• That person legally able to handle things like banking and legal matters.
• Disability insurance so you get some income while out of the office.
• Business interruption insurance is another option