Yes we’re in lockdown, yes it’s scary, yes the future is pretty uncertain right now, especially for those of us self employed. However, I’m all for turning that frown upside down and looking at what I can do to make this more bearable, whilst hopefully helping my business too.
I am currently on day 20 of an enforced lockdown in Malaysia (another story). Rather than sit on the sofa and consume Netflix ,and the 20 odd memes I’m sent on a daily basis , I have decided to embrace this enforced lockdown and use it as an opportunity to invest in my business.
In the last two weeks I have written dozens of blog posts, updated my website, re-visited my business plan, recorded videos, taken online courses, started writing “that book” and so much more! Whilst talking to friends and family, especially those self employed, I have been mentioning what I’ve been doing and they suggested I do a blog post as other people might be interested too.
So here we go. If you are self employed and starting to think you may have to close your business, have a look through this list first and see if there’s anything you can do to change that. I know my business is my baby. I’ve lost blood, sweat, tears and so much sleep over it, but I won’t be giving it up without a fight.
If you have any questions at all please just get in touch or comment and I will do my best to help or point you in the right direction. I’m more than happy to arrange a zoom call with you too.
Are you ready?
First things first … get dressed! You’re self employed, you run your own business right? Why are you still in pyjamas or sports gear?
Okay, we’re ready.
1 – Love your Business. Do you still love your business? If not you need to fall back in love with it. Remember when you started out, remember all that enthusiasm you had? Remember the job you hated that you left in order to start your business? Remember the pride of registering your business name? The first invoice that got paid? Think of all those things – remember them. YOU did all that and no virus is going to get in the way of you doing it again. YOU GOT THIS!
If you don’t feel any of this now, why are you bothering with this list? Forget the fear of losing your business, find the passion to save it! Until you have fallen back in love don’t move on to tip 2.
2 – Audit your business. Look at it with a fresh pair of eyes, away from the day to day stuff. What’s working, what’s not? What do you want to change? Really take time to think about this. Before you do anything else, think about what you really want to do going forward. Don’t just patch things up for the sake of survival. If you’re not happy with things this is the opportunity to change them. Write two lists. One with all that’s not working and one with things you haven’t tried but want to try.
3 – Communicate. Let your customers know what’s happening with your business e.g. are you closed, are you still taking orders, when will you re-open, how do they get in touch etc. Ideally you will have an online mailing list that you can utilise or social media to do this. If not, now is the time to set these up. Don’t forget to comply with GDPR guidelines. I set up and manage social media for businesses so I can help you with this. Just get in touch.
4 – Outstanding invoices. A tricky one for all of us. But, it’s a good time to review outstanding invoices and perhaps contact people and offer a payment solution.
5 – Write a bio about your business. What do you do? What do you make? What service do you offer? What solution do you solve? This is the perfect time to do this. Not only will it be useful for your website, future advertising, social media etc but it gets you to really think about your business and what it is you offer.
6 – Write a Business Plan, or update your existing one. For me personally, I like to create a vision board for my business. Once you’re done go for a walk and visualise everything you’ve written down.
7 – Do something new – watch a new tv show, play a game with your kids, read a magazine you have never read before, go for a walk if you don’t usually. When we break out of our comfort zones things happen, we start to think differently.
8 – Do an online workshop. Upskill. There are 100’s of courses available online via https://www.skillshare.com/home https://www.udemy.com and lots of other sites. You can learn everything from accounting, social media, marketing, selling , how to do your tax return and so much more! Better still do that painting class, cookery class, or whatever it is you’ve been putting off “because you’re too busy”.
9 – Clear your email and unsubscribe from mailing lists. Create a professional email signature for your email account.
10 – Talk. We have all the time in the world now. Talk to someone whose opinion you respect, ask them for advice, run some ideas by them. Who knows, you may have something they want in return?
11 – Look at your branding. Do you have a logo? Do you have a certain colour that represents your business? Choose three colours you are drawn to that fit with your logo. No logo? You can use the free website canva to create your own for free. If you don’t feel like creating yourself and don’t have the funds use the time to look at logo designs you like and keep on file for future reference.
12 – Catch up on accounts, or start them! Use this time to get a good system in place. Gather up all those invoices/receipts and start sorting them now.
13 – Look at your competitors. Choose up to 5 and look at what they have been doing and what they are doing now? Can you do better?
14 – Review your social media. When was the last time you posted? Do you know the login/passwords? If not, who does? What accounts have you set up? If you need help with this get in touch.
15 – Photos. Create a bank of photos of your product or photos relating to your service/business. You can use free photo sites like pixabay.com Do NOT use photos from google as they are not free for use and you can be fined. If you need help with this get in touch.
16 – Create video. Photos are no longer getting the engagement they once did on social media. You need to familiarise yourself with video. You do not need expensive equipment or someone to do it for you. Start with just you and your phone. Practice talking into the phone and recording on your own first. If you need help with this get in touch.
17 – Influencers. Do you have a product for sale? Have you considered partnering with an Influencer on social media? Now is the perfect time to contact them.
18 – Collaborate. Have you considered collaborating with a similar businesses or any local busienss in your area?
19 – Community. What can you do for your community while you have time? What can you offer? See how you can help. Contact your local Council, Hospital, Chamber of Commerce etc.
20 – Old fashioned marketing. Have you considered flyers? Posters? Door drops? Local paper advertising? Radio Advertising? These may not be relevant right now but think about them for when the time comes and you are “back in business”.
21- Networking. Join a local Chamber. Join groups online and start engaging with people. If you need help with this get in touch.
22 – New Product/Service. Have you been thinking about introducing a new product or service? Now is the time to spend on developing this.
23 – Suppliers. Use this time to review suppliers and stock take.
24 – Customer Loyalty Program. Have you got one in place? It can be used to promote your business on social media and in your email newsletters, keeping your business in your audience’s mind.
25 – Create a Referral program. Entice new customers to purchase from you/sign up by giving discounts to both the original customer and the customer who was referred.
26 – Advance Purchase offers. This is a great way to get sales in now for your business once things pick up again and also keep your business on your customer’s minds whilst temporarily closed. Great for online courses, new product lines, or why not start a Christmas club? Have you offered vouchers?
27 – Marketing Plan. Create a social media marketing plan for the next 6 months. Mark out all the upcoming holidays and think about what promotions you can offer around them. If you need help with this get in touch.
28 – Christmas. If there’s one thing for sure, everyone is going to want the biggest and best Christmas this year. What can you do now to prepare your business for the best Christmas? Order in stock, think about offers, promotions etc
29 – Review your website. When was the last time you updated it? Do you know the login/password? If not, who does? If you need help with this get in touch.
30. Help. We get back what we give. Help someone who is struggling. If you have a temporary empty office space, could it be used by someone right now? Do you have supplies that could help? What can you do/offer to help.
I really hope some of these are useful to you. Maybe you have some ideas too? Share them in the comments or drop me an email.
For the last few years I have been managing social media and websites for many businesses whilst running my own creative business. If there’s anything I can do to help please leave a comment below and I will do my best to help you. Sometimes we think we are on our own but all you need to do is ask for help.
Stay safe everyone.