Now is the time to reflect on whether your business can survive amidst the forced circumstances of COVID. Do you have enough cash to stick it out? Can you shut down operations completely and hibernate until a change comes? If not, then you’re fighting for your company’s life at this point. Question: How can you grow your business, regardless of COVID’s impact?
Running a digital agency and working with Israel’s government has taught me a great deal over the years. I’ve seen companies launch, expand, crash, and everything in-between. The majority of the companies that we work with present themselves on a global scale, hoping to attract the attention of international customers and clients. At the same time, we work with micro-businesses and organizations that produce revenues under $100k per year. Regardless of size, offer, or management, all of our clients have felt the impact of lockdowns and cash bleeding.
Throughout this experience, it’s become clear that those who built their businesses on unchangeable foundations, lost quickly. They weren’t able to “un-scale” their business.
As a quick refresher, the term “scale” has gained enormous popularity over the past decade. Focused on helping business owners and managers to incrementally grow their business, while not drowning from growing pains and loss of quality. The concept focuses on the development of internal systems and strategies that are meant to allow the director of the business to work on his business and less-so in his business.
As COVID has forced into the survival mindset, in certain regards, we must look at our company’s trajectory a bit differently. Thus, there are 3 key steps that can help you to survive, and even perhaps thrive, during the remaining stretch of this recession.
Step 1) Get back into your business by un-scaling
For those who have scaled their companies to a comfortable place of overbite and management, now is the time to get granular again. Investigate your company’s operations, understand the workflow and systems currently in place, and discover where fat can be trimmed from your operations. Find new opportunities in your business’s scope-offer, and discover new niches within your clientele’s demand/need fields.
This is where un-scaling comings into play. Work the methods that led to the growth of your business backward, and discover a roadmap to maintaining the survival of your business. What you’ll find is that un-scaling will lead you to an extensive list of opportunities for streamlining and improving the operations of your workflow. Thus, driving down costs and imparting a more hefty profit margin to your bottom line will soften the blow of COVID.
Step 2) Modularize, modularize, modularize
This is one that I’m currently working on in my agency. The concept focuses on the Henry Ford system of the assembly line. Ford’s innovation of the modularized assembly line reduced the time it took to build a car from more than 12 hours to 1 hour and 33 minutes. You can do this for your business as well by looking at the workflows of your production. If you offer either a product or service, it’s safe to say that there is a place to review the delivery of this value. Looking at the COGs (Cost of Goods) to deliver this product is where you begin. Line up the steps in delivery with the cost of labor. From here, see where you can modularize.
If your service is digital, or can be digitalized, then bring in freelancers by the hour or project to offer competitive rates. This will reduce your operational needs and costs, reduce HR, get rid of additional overhead costs, and present you with a pool of motivated professionals.
If your service is not digital, then consider sub-contracting new service providers who are entering the market at aggressive, reduced costs. With high unemployment, younger entrepreneurs are entering your market. Find a way to white-label (using their service as if it’s under your brand) their service. This takes away all extra costs of managing overhead.
Regardless of what product or service your business provides, modularize.
Step 3) Digitalize wherever you can
Whether your business is a human-to-human service or a physical product, you can supplement your losses by going digital. By focusing on a section of your business that would stand out as unique or competitive online you can construct a cash funnel to help subsidize your losses of 2020. Using sales platforms, along with your own digital assets (landing pages, eCommerce website, etc.), you can open up a new branch of your business.
At this stage, you’re saying, “Yes Jake, we’ve all been told this.” But have you done it, and have you done it well? The stage of setting up your account and uploading your product offer may seem like the most intimidating and important part of it, but it’s not.
The true success lies in the creative edge and competitive advantage that your service brings to the market. Consider an industry where the options are endless; cereal, shaving cream, etc. In these markets, as well as in yours, there are two options: compete on price, or compete on the uniqueness of your offer. I recommend the latter.
Once you master the above, social media, SEO, Google Adwords, PPC, email marketing, and onward, will serve you well.
Be encouraged. Keep your focus on serving your customer, wowing them with fantastic service, and reaching new markets. Take some time to reflect on these 3 steps to see how your business fits into these molds, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.