As I look back over the last month and a half, I must be honest. Probably the biggest worry on my mind at that time was getting my corporate taxes filed on time. My accountant just recovering from a bout of pneumonia, and I had doubts that he would be able to get them done on time.
But luckily, he did. The next week, the COVID 19 was just starting to get worse. Events were still going on, and there was no shelter in place orders that were executed.
I thought that this would be something like the flu, life it would just go on. But little did I realize how quickly the ramifications of it would unfold. The financial markets have completely gyrated like a roller coaster, and now everything is shut down, with pretty much all employees WFH.
There have also been the grave security ramifications of this as well, such as people going to spoofed websites, a huge uptick in Phishing attacks, and Zoom now getting the limelight.
Unfortunately, many businesses have suffered because of all of this. As a result, I keep asking to myself and to the peers in my industry (which is Cybersecurity), is the fundamental question: How do business owners, especially those with SMBs, continue to grind through all of this? Well, I am going to offer my perspectives in this blog.
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How It Is Done
Well, the following is what I do to keep my head sane and how to propel my SMB forward:
Keep and stick to a schedule:
With these extremely slow times, the temptation to basically say “screw it” and give up is quite strong. And believe me, I have felt like this many a time just in the last couple of weeks. But the important thing to keep in mind is that you stick to your normal schedule like it was before all of this happened. No matter what your industry is, you should still maintain normal business hours, whether it is 8 AM to 5 PM.
Take all the help you can get:
With the recent $2 trillion stimulus that just came out recently, there are a lot more resources available to you, from a financial perspective. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this blog, the loan program that was available to businesses has now dried up. But I have seen headlines where both the Senate and Congress are going to have talks to get a new bill passed that will pump even more money into this loan program.
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Take stock and realign your marketing strategies:
Back last December of 2019, I wrote my marketing plan for the first 6 months of 2020. But, given this COVID 19 crisis, everything has changed over literally by 360 degrees. I am constantly reviewing my marketing strategy to see what I can do better. This simple act of writing down what you need to do and checking it off gives you a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Also, it can give you a great sense of motivation to keep lumbering forward as well as cherry-picking what worked best for you.
Spend your money wisely:
There is no doubt that today, money and cash flow are probably the biggest worries of the SMB owner, and is even for me also. In these times, the temptation does spend on wants is extraordinarily strong, in order to give us that rush to feel good about something. But this is only for a fleeting moment, reality will then sink a few hours later!! What I do is I have created an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of what my marketing expenses have been, and what I absolutely must spend in the next two months. I keep looking at it every day, and constantly making changes to it in order to keep staying afloat, from a marketing perspective. The key to this is to stay objective. To be honest, I even have some hard times doing this. So, what I do is I have a group of trusted friends of whom I ask for advice as to what they think about my marketing efforts, and what they would spend money on. Think of this as more as an informal, corporate advisory board. They will help you maintain the marketing objectivity that you need. For example, I had in my plans to file for a registered trademark in May for a new service that I am planning to launch. It will cost about $900 or so to do this, using an attorney. While this may be rather inexpensive compared to how much other attorneys would charge, but I had a hard time with the want versus need issue. So, I reached out to a close friend of mine. He basically said yea, you will feel good about doing it for the short term, but that money you are going to spend on it, could be used to launch some great lead generation programs. I took his advice, and instead, I am going to use that money for creating two new content microsites to get more prospects coming to my main website.
Lead generation does not have to be expensive:
Even today, I still get Emails from a ton of vendors offering me great Email and calling lists for a great discount. But remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Always trust your gut. Even before all of this started with COVID 19, I never once bought an Email or Lead list from anybody. My marketing has always been traditional, in that I just network at various events, make good contacts, and get meetings set up that way. But seeing how everything is shut down now, this is of course an impossible task right now. So, I just rely on my good friend Google, and search for companies and contacts that way.
Get a good Digital Marketing expert:
Yes, everything now revolves around Google and search engine rankings. Depending upon your line of business, this could be crucial, or it may not be as much. But whatever it is, you need to get a good Digital Marketing person on your side to help you with the SEO on your business website. But it is crucial that this person you hire also has a keen understanding of the line of business that you are in.
Stay the course:
There are probably a ton of SMB owners who feel like throwing in the towel. But DON’T DO THIS!!! Stay focused and keep soldiering forward the best you can. Always maintain a support group that you can count on to be quite literally, your cheerleaders and to pump you up. Remember, this pandemic is not going to last forever. At some point in time, businesses will have to open back up again.
Try to have meetings directly on the phone with prospects:
As mentioned, one of the biggest security issues now is that of Zoom. Try the traditional method: Just have a meeting by simply dialing the phone number of the prospect and have your meeting that way. I even did this before the COVID19, and prospects were very appreciative that I reached out to them on a more personal level.
Well, there you have it. This is what I do to keep humming along in these crazy times. Perhaps take some of these ideas and see what works for you. Just because this works for me, it may not necessarily work for everybody else. Use my tips as a starting point and go from there. But here is another important thing to remember: Try to stay away from the news headlines. Yes, it is scary to see how many people have been laid off or filed for unemployment. But just tune yourself away from it.
In my view, the fundamentals of the strong economy that we once had is still there. Whether we have a V shaped or U-shaped recovery, you will be richly rewarded for once again, stating the course. HANG IN THERE!!!