Building and growing your business these days can have its challenges. Traditional business is now increasingly moving online, and with the recent Covid-19 spread, this has pushed this move even faster. An increasing number of governments are suggesting that businesses shut their doors to the public. Finding ways to keep your business active through these closures is important in order to overcome the current limitations.
Social distancing has been highly recommended, in an effort to help contain any progression of the virus. And, in a world where the online market is steadily increasing, there are plenty of business opportunities to offer your services and build your business online, while at the same time socially distancing yourself.
Keeping Your Business Active
Just because you aren’t able to meet with your customers in person, doesn’t mean you still can’t offer your services. Here are some ideas for business owners to move your business online in order to continue providing services and keeping business active, while still following social distancing suggestions:
Having a productive meeting with a client or your staff doesn’t mean you have to be in the same room as them. Communication tools, such as Skype and Zoom allow you to hold effective ‘face to face’ meetings, while also sharing documents instantly.
In real time, you can collaborate with multiple individuals remotely so, while travel may be restricted, this offers a great opportunity to keep your business running right from your home computer.
Working with a team means you’ll likely have to collaborate on different projects in order to get the job done to its full potential. Making these projects easily accessible using remote access software allows each team member to have their ideas included and provide their own input.
While you may not be able to transition all of your services to an online platform, there could be opportunities for you to start offering more digital services to customers. Each business will differ in what it’s able to offer in digital form, so taking a look at your current services lets you see a picture of what can be offered.
For instance, if you run a personal training business, perhaps offering virtual one-on-one sessions, customized meal plans or workout schedules is something that your clients would find value in.
The benefits of digital services are that they are inexpensive or free to create, easy to deliver and more immediately available to customers. There are many ways you can create digital products and continue generating income with your business online.
Optimize Your Business
Building and growing a successful digital business presence involves continually optimizing to maximize your reach. There are a few easy ways to begin optimizing your business to ensure you’re getting the most out of your online efforts.
- Google My Business: A free and easy way to get your business noticed on the first page of Google’s search results. Make sure you’ve got your business signed up, and that all of the information is accurate and kept updated.
- Reviews: Customers take the word of other customers very seriously, and they will read their reviews and take their cues from what others have to say. When your customers have a positive experience, ask them to write a review to share their experience with others.
- Social platforms: There are a number of different social media marketing platforms that are free and highly effective for businesses to use as online marketing tools, to generate a strong presence. From Facebook, to Twitter and Instagram, be sure your online presence is strong. These are great ways to communicate with your customers and create a great personal connection.
In addition to these ideas, Entrepreneur.com outlines 10 Steps for All-Around Optimizing Your Business. Making it easy for your customers to find you, read positive reviews and keep updated with your latest information, makes growing your business and building a successful digital presence much easier.
Plan Your Socials Ahead
While people are socially distancing themselves from in-person interactions, they are spending more time on social media, digitally interacting with others. Using all of your available platforms keeps you in front of your customer’s eyes and lets you stay connected to them.
Take some time to plan out your upcoming social media posts, scheduling things ahead of time so you won’t have to dedicate time each day to doing this. Laying out a schedule ahead of time lets you see your overall plan, and lets you ensure that you’re providing enough information to customers without being overwhelming. Social media management tools like Zoho, Buffer, Sendible and Hootsuite can help get things planned ahead of time.
Schedule your posts and online marketing to appear at times that are relevant to your customers, when you know they will be active on social media, and with information that is relevant to them at the time it’s posted. For example, letting customers know at 3am about your upcoming 7am online morning yoga class won’t likely result in many additional participants.
Plan For the Future
Although you are trying to expand your current business online, if there are slower times, it’s the perfect opportunity to plan for the future of your business. Sometimes, things can become so hectic that business operations are run from day to day, without much planning put into the future. Take advantage of slower days to start putting a plan in place for when things are once again business as usual.
As day to day business moves along, things can sometimes be put off until a later date. Now is the time to catch up on that work you haven’t had time to do, and that project you’ve been putting off.
Not only can you get things done that you’ve been meaning and wanting to do for a while, but you can also start getting yourself ahead of the game, with planning and working on projects and ideas for the future.
Keeping yourself on track using a task manager, like Remember The Milk can help ensure you’re not procrastinating and that you are remembering all of the things you want to get done when you do have some down time.
Create a Business Plan
Writing a business plan is an essential component to succeeding in business. After all, you can’t get where you’re going unless you know how you’re getting there – not easily, at least. If you have previously written a business plan, now may be the perfect opportunity to make any updates and start planning ahead.
Outlining your plan for business lets you steer the direction of your growth and can also help you plan for unexpected slowdowns that may happen again in the future.
Fully Develop Business Ideas
If you’ve had a great idea in mind for a while, but haven’t been able to find the time to sit down and fully strategize your new ideas. Perhaps there’s a new product or service you’ve been wanting to develop or test out.
Sharing your ideas with your team can help you problem solve, unlock new ideas and determine how to get things done. Brainstorming your ideas with the team using a platform like Idea Drop can help with managing the development of your ideas and seeing them through to fruition.
When you are able to provide customers with valuable content, they will see you as an authority on the subject and will turn to you when they have questions. Google also takes note when you are doing this and moves you up their rankings, strengthening your online presence.
A great idea is to look at common questions you are asked or frequent problems you’ve noticed your customers encountering. Providing them with information for solutions to their problems helps build trust and opens the door for them to reach out to you in the future.
Continue Learning Skills
Learning should never stop. There’s always an opportunity to learn something new or improve the skills you already have. A great deal of learning can be done while you’re socially distancing yourself. Listening to webinars, podcasts and other online resources is a great way to find experts in your field who can open your mind to new ideas and ways of doing things that you may never have thought of before.
Find a list of the Top 10 Podcasts for Small Business Owners, or search for webinars either for business owners or specifically for the skills you are working on improving.
Advantages of Moving Your Business Online
Along with the move to selling online, there come a number of advantages that you just can’t get with bricks and mortar business operations. Here are just a few advantages of moving online:
- Office space: Depending on the size of your business, it may not be necessary to have a separate office space. This could open up the opportunity to work from home, and employ others to work virtually from their separate locations.
- Communications: Taking your business online allows you to communicate much faster with customers, utilizing social media to reach out to customers and keep them informed of the latest things your business is doing.
- Freedom: Your online business can be run from anywhere, making it much easier to travel for business or personal reasons without interruption to daily business activity. There are a number of mobile apps that can make managing your online store even easier.
Depending on the type of business you operate, as well as the products and services you offer, there may be a number of other advantages, including potentially not having to hold inventory or being able to subcontract various work to individuals worldwide.
Adjusting your business to suit the changing marketplace can help you continually grow, no matter what may be happening. The internet is already changing the business game – get started now with joining in on that game!
Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our staff for additional information and assistance.
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Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.
Lisa Shaw is a Corporate Specialist and the newest member of the team at Ontario Business Central. After completing her B.A. in Communications and Sociology at York University, Lisa took her passion for writing into the freelance world of sports writing for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in Fighters Only Magazine, Showdown Combat Sports and Full Contact Fighter, among others. Lisa strives to provide the highest level of service to each and every client she works with at Ontario Business Central.