This past year has been challenging for so many businesses. Some have had to shut either permanently or temporary because of restrictions. Even those who have remained open throughout the pandemic have lost sales. Is it possible to breathe new life into your business? While nothing is ever certain, you might be able to get your business restarted.
Create a business plan
When you first started your business, you probably created a business plan beforehand. You would have needed to plan how much you could invest, compared to how much you might make and whether the potential profits were worth the risk. You may have done surveys or other research to test whether there was a viable market for what you were offering and researched how to reach potential customers.
Unfortunately, things have changed since then. You may have to recreate your plan, weigh up the potential costs and profits again and do more research on what your customers want. This may mean altering the goods or services you offer and adapting to the current climate.
For example, you might find many people are spending more time at home, so loungewear and home entertainment products have become more in demand. Unless you’re starting a new business, you won’t want to sway too far from your current niche, but adding products which fit with your brand could also increase sales of other products when customers are shopping with you and something else catches their eye. Or if like Patrick James Trico, your business specializes in automotive parts, you could focus your marketing on people who may be driving more to avoid public transport and are more likely to need replacement parts for their vehicles.
Following safety guidelines
It can be tempting to do the bare minimum but going the extra mile to ensure a safe environment for everyone can set you apart from any of your competitors who don’t. This should include following the basic social distancing measures, encouraging the wearing of masks and installing hand sanitizer stations. In addition, you could offer delivery and collection services, contactless payment and self-service tills with free use of disinfect wipes, if you don’t already offer any of these.
If you don’t currently have a website, now is the time to invest in one, or start up a blog to let your customers know you’re back, what you’re selling and the measures you have taken to ensure their safety if they buy from you. Update your social media channels regularly to remind people you have reopened. Don’t be pushy, however, posting about your products/services mixed in with some non-sales posts on subjects related to your industry can encourage engagement and serve as a gentle reminder when customers are ready to buy.
Negotiate with suppliers
If possible, try to negotiate the best prices with your suppliers. Although it’s important to remember they may also be struggling, depending on the product, they may also have excess stock they need to sell.
If you can build up interest in your products first, you might buy in bulk for a larger discount.
It can be tempting to increase prices, especially if you haven’t been able to trade for some time and have lost money. However, offering limited-time discounts or reductions of excess stock can be a great way to win back old customers and gain new ones. You might sell more by reducing prices. So, even if you only make $1 profit (each) on 500 items, in total that’s more profit than making $2 profit per unit on 50 items.
While you might want to support others by creating jobs, the first step is to give your business a fighting chance. So, make a list of everything that needs doing. Decide what is necessary, what you can do later or compromise on and what you can do yourself, then plan to allow yourself enough time to achieve it. Once your business is stable, then you can look at hiring outside help.
Apply for grants
This can depend on the industry of your business, your own circumstances, who benefits from your business and a variety of other factors, but if you go online and research, you may find one or more grants to apply for. If accepted, you can use them to restart your business.
Get people involved
If your business benefits the community or worthy causes in some way, you may be able to get help from that community to help relaunch your business. If you have a unique angle like sustainability, animals rights, etc., you may also want to approach specialist podcasts, magazines and any other media outlets to help with free or low-cost advertising or to be featured/interviewed.
Alternatively, you can request feedback from past or present satisfied customers, for marketing and promotion use. People can be dubious about parting with money if they have no prior experience with your business.
It is possible to restart your business, though you must be prepared to adapt and put in the work.