Yiuwin and Amy are two of our favourite problem solvers and sounding boards – just the sort of folks you want to be tapping up for a steer on what to do about Covid-19 and the dreadful impact it’s having on small businesses. So, we did.
Both serial entrepreneurs and deep experts in their respective fields, Amy and Yiuwin founded Disruptive Thinking, a B2B marketing and business development consultancy with the motto: do good work for good people – which they execute with excellent results.
So, how are they applying their expertise to their own business right now – and what are they advising their clients to do?
Farillio: Yiuwin, it’s tough right now. How have you been affected?
Yiuwin: It’s seriously tough. Our business, like many others, has been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak – we’ve had projects delayed, cancelled and clients pause contracts at short notice.
Amy: We’ve just come off the phone to our accountant and discussed how important it is that we practice good business hygiene as well as good hand washing! Now more than ever it is important to be prudent and manage costs, extend turnaround times on revenue incoming and make the team as effective and efficient as possible – even in these times of physical distancing and remote working.
Farillio: Yiuwin, this isn’t the first crisis you’ve navigated a business through, is it? Can you share your learnings, especially what got you through the last one – and how we can all take something helpful away from that?
Yiuwin: Absolutely. We thought it would be helpful to share a few tips based on what we know and have experienced, having lived through the ‘08 crash and survived, particularly when it feels like everything is consumed by virus news, health anxiety and concerns over the future of UK business.
Amy: The way you manage your pipeline of new prospects, and the way you communicate with your clients and audience is inevitably going to take a hit. So here’s what we recommend.
Beating Covid-19’s impact on your small business
1. Take another look at your customer personas, and consider what’s changed because of Covid-19 (e.g. social/physical distancing, more reliance on digital interactions, healthcare and childcare concerns, cashflow challenges, delays to their own business operations). To continue to be relevant and in demand for your customers, you’ll have to be able to address these additional, challenging factors.
2. Given these new customer priorities, how does this impact on the channels and key messages you use to communicate with them? The chances are, you’re going to have to nuance some or a lot of what you've been doing so far. And you’re going to need to make these changes fast.
3. People want reassurance. Think about what you can say to reassure your audience and clients. From your expertise and industry, from what your clients and audience love about you, what can you say/publish/distribute to provide them with that will give them some steps forward given the current situation? Or provide them with a welcome distraction (think about your copy carefully when you do the latter, the last impression you’ll want to convey is frivolousness).
4. Dip into your scheduled social media posts and edit them. People are stuck at home; they're likely to spend more time than ever on social. How can you leverage this? And be really thoughtful about what’s relevant right now. It’s really easy to spot someone who’s just broadcasting evergreen content that doesn’t speak to these really extraordinary times. In fact, it even looks lazy.
5. Content consumption could be at an all-time high – so again, think about how to make the most of this. Can you shift your marketing strategy to be content focused and start publishing material that’s highly relevant to the challenges arising and the questions being asked right now? You'll easily find good freelancers and people willing to take on additional work remotely (let us know if you need help finding people; we can recommend).
6. Map out your sales pipeline and extend your turnaround times; everyone is moving slower and your targets/expectations need to reflect this. Ensure your commercial expectations cover these extended timelines, look for the pinch points on your cashflow projections and plan as best you can. Money is scarce for almost everyone right now.
7. On a practical level, make sure the technology you’re using is fit for purpose. Video calls have become a necessary normality, so ensure that client-facing members of your team are well kitted out; make provisions for decent internet connectivity where they are – this might mean using 4G if broadband is particularly unreliable. Poor quality video calls are painful, so make sure they are set up as best as they can be from a client experience perspective. Also remember this guy.
Farillio: These are great tips, guys. As ever, thanks for sharing the wisdom. What’s immediately on your to-do list?
Yiuwin: Our pleasure. Thankfully Amy and I are able to push on with the business; we're able to conduct much of our work digitally and via video conferencing with most of our clients. And we know we’re very lucky about that.
Amy: We’re both very conscious about how isolating and lonely it can get for people, and it’s one of the reasons we’ve pledged free time and support under the #3hrPledge hashtag on Twitter. So, feel free to drop us an email, tweet or call to chat work, play or anything else – happy to remind and to be reminded that we're all still human after all. And that by helping each other through the tough times, we can all celebrate survival and success when we come through the other side.