With everything happening in the world right now, we're all in different boats, facing the same storm. Some of those boats are big, some small; some have lifeboats, some have kids, some have partners with secure incomes, and some are one-man vessels.
No matter which boat you're in, each and every one of them is taking on water - whether it be a small leak, or through a gushing hole in the hull. Some of the sailors are turning a blind eye to the catastrophe. Some are working overtime to patch the leaks. Some might even be fastidiously drafting plans for a new boat entirely.
Wherever you may fit into the above analogy, now is the time (more than ever) to be HUSTLING as a small business owner.
I've seen a lot of creatives thinking that lockdown is a great chance to put your feet up, work on some creative projects, and bake some banana bread. While taking some time to meditate and exercise is a great way to cope with stress (and something we definitely encourage!), a lot of business owners are are fighting purely to keep their heads above water, their kids fed and happy, and manage their own anxiety levels.
Now is a crucial time to be working on your business strategy for the next 12-18 months. Take a few moments to listen to a podcast while showering, or put a tutorial on while making dinner, or steal back 20 minutes of scrolling time from social media to work your way through a few of the below ideas.
We're in it for the long haul in terms of the upcoming economic recession, and the entire face of business is changing rapidly. You can get ahead of the curve though - here are a few tips to get started:
1. Update your online bios and web copy.
Take 30 minutes to rewrite your online bios - on your website and your social media platforms. These personal introductions to yourself and your brand are very important, and should be a fresh, concise and fun way to welcome potential clients to your website and Facebook/Instagram accounts.
It's also a great chance to update all the copy on your website - put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never heard of you before, and has no idea about the services you offer. Make sure that if they were to visit your website, they would be able to quickly and easily understand who you are, what you offer, and how they can make a purchase/hire you.
Important points to keep in mind:
- keep your bios quick, concise and with fresh wording
- add in your location! (it blows my mind how often I end up on a website for a service provider and I have to truly SEARCH for information about where they are located!)
2. Update your portfolio/online visual presence.
Whether you're a photographer, a florist, or a graphic designer, my bet is that you have an online portfolio of your work. Some of the best advice I've ever received is that you're only as strong as your weakest piece of work. So whatever products/images/designs you have showcased on your website or social media platforms need to be the strongest representation of you and your brain. Anything that is old or outdated needs to go, ASAP.
Keep your body of work fresh, up-to-date and relevant to what you offer.
3. Give your website a makeover.
This new look has made the whole team feel rejuvenated and refreshed, and given us a great project to work on in this quiet patch.
Now that we've all been forced into some serious down-time, it's the perfect chance to work on revamping, streamlining, and refreshing your own website.
4. Go digital.
Whatever product or service you may offer, now is the time to consider creating a virtual/digital version of it.
Can you teach what you do? Set up online lessons.
Can you sell your service digitally, or ship your products via courier? Set up an online store.
Just last week we launched an online store, and are now offering digital design services as well. Whatever you're looking for, we can design - from fresh, funky logos and websites to email signatures and business cards!
4. Help others.
Now is the absolute best time to be building a community; a network; a collection of other local suppliers and service providers that you can help, and that you can rely on.
We have just launched a new instagram page to do just this - @supportyourlocal_jhb.
All through lockdown (and beyond), we are truly going to need to support our local economy more than ever before - creating a network of local businesses that you can use to build your own supply chain and that you can continue to support going forward will make a huge difference to our South African economy.
5. Review your cashflow.
Now is the time to be brutally honest with yourself about every single penny you spend, and about every expense that can be cut or reduced. Want it, or need it? That's the question we need to start asking ourselves.
Draw up an extensive financial plan for the next 3 - 6 - 9 months, outlining every potential possibility - what if you earn absolutely nothing for that time? Have you drawn up a contingency plan for each member of your team? What if any of them were to get sick and not be able to work? What if you as the CEO/owner of your biz were to get sick? What contingencies do you have in place for that?
Make sure you have a plan (or at least an idea) for what to do in any conceivable situation. It could be the difference between sink or swim for your business.
In the words of Richard Mulholland, what if this is the best thing that ever happened to your business? (Read this article!)
Now is the time for adapting, for diversifying, for growing, and for strengthening.
Robyn Davie is the CEO of the Robyn Davie Photography brand, based in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Her team is made up of six JHB photographers, four CT photographers, an office manager, marketing manager, business manager and a handful of editors and graphic designers.
The brand has proudly partnered with the iStore in 2020, and won multiple awards through Admired in Africa. Innovation is at the forefront of what they do - always adapting their product offerings, and aiming to stand out from the crowd with fresh, bold and bright photography.