Rebooting your business after lockdown
In the Chinese language the word crisis is composed of two characters, one represents danger and the other one represents opportunity. What possible opportunity can be hidden amid the economic crisis South Africa and the world is facing? What opportunity can be discovered amid the turmoil that could change the direction of your business for the better?
This attitude and perspective change requires boldness, courage, and strong leadership. It is much easier to roll over and give up than it is to take courage and fight back! As a business owner your leadership and entrepreneurial ability might be in the process of being tested to a level that you have never experienced before. This might be a blessing in disguise as history teaches us that great leaders arise from near impossible situations. This crisis might be an opportunity for you as a business owner to take your leadership ability to a new level. As Brian Tracy said, “The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis.”
What type of leader are you in a crisis? How well are you functioning in the current crisis we are facing in South Africa and the world? Are you the type of leader that you, yourself, would look up to during these testing times?
The reality is that people are looking for hope, employees are looking to their leaders for guidance and strength. You cannot allow yourself to become emotional and get carried away by all the negativity in the media. Now more than ever you need to believe in your purpose, and you need courage to continue relentlessly to pursue your destiny!
There is nothing quite as inspirational as a person with a meaningful cause. A leader that leads with strength, dignity, and a moral conviction to execute his God-given purpose on earth. And in the words of the late Dr Myles Munroe, “Leadership is the capacity to influence others, through inspiration, motivated by passion, generated by vision, produced by conviction, ignited by a purpose.”
I believe it is time for us as business owners to think back to our early days in business. Why did you originally go into business? Why did you start that business way back? We all started our businesses for a reason, we all had a clear pattern in mind. The question however is, have you compromised on your purpose or the original pattern of your business amid the crisis? I want to encourage you not to quit and give up, but rather to take up your cause and push on relentlessly!
Steve Jobs said that he was convinced the factor that separated successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful entrepreneurs is pure perseverance. Remember, perseverance is a result and not something you can force. That result is produced by a strong conviction to fulfil your purpose on earth.
I want to encourage you to revisit the original purpose to why you are in business, let this purpose strengthen your heart and your employees will be inspired by your strength, instead of fearing for the future. Never stop dreaming, no matter how bleak the outlook appears!
Revising your business model
Purpose alone will not help you steer the ship safely through this storm, you need a plan of action to back up the purpose of your business. The business world is collectively moving into the unknown. We are not sure how the Covid-19 crisis will change our respective markets and industries. Things might change and never be the same again, or the world might go back to business-as-usual after the lockdown period is over.
This, however, is out of our control. It will be wiser to rather spend our time revising our strategy and adjusting our business model for life after lockdown.
To ensure a profitable business model regardless of whether you are starting out or looking to revise the foundation of your existing business, you need to consider the following phases and honestly investigate each phase within your business to successfully reboot your business after lockdown.
Phase 1: Your competitive advantage
The first phase in adjusting your business model to adapt to life after lockdown is redefining your competitive advantage. The competitive advantage factor consists of the following components: (1) unique advantage; (2) competitiveness and (3) product or service accessibility. When you consider these three aspects, remember that people buy emotionally, and they justify the purchase logically (especially in a tight economy).
|(1) Your unique advantage|
What makes your offering unique to that of your competitors? What emotional concept are you selling to your customers? Your unique advantage is the emotional feeling you are selling with your tangible product or service. This unique advantage cannot be copied by the competitors, as it is the unique flavour of your business.
|(2) Your competitiveness|
Logically your product or service offering needs to make sense. When the consumer argues the fact whether to buy or not, they have the following questions that needs answering:
Q #1: Is this a ‘nice’ to have or a ‘need’ to have?
Q #2: How much does this cost?
Q #3: What is the time process involved?
Q #4: What do you need from me to continue or deliver the product or service?
Q #5: What are the steps involved to start and finalise the process?
If you successfully answer these questions to the interested prospect, you will give him the opportunity to make an informed and logical decision to continue.
Setting up these questions properly in your service offering also gives you an opportunity to measure your competitiveness with your competition in the market.
|(3) Product or service accessibility|
The last aspect of your competitive advantage is the accessibility of your offering. The process to deliver the product or service to the consumer needs to be as seamless as possible. The easier you make the process; the quicker people pay.
Considering your competitive advantage in general, Steve Jobs said, “Never try to be better than the competitors, try to be different.” Additionally, I want to add to Jobs’ statement and say, “Try to be different, better and more simplistic than the competitors.”
Phase 2: Your brand identity
In the 21st century branding is becoming a very important component of a successful business. Branding is the ID of your business; it is the process of giving your purpose a name and an identity. People will buy into a brand if they believe they share the same values as the business. Authenticity makes brands last over time! The more simplistic, transparent, and honest your brand is, the more people want to buy into your business.
Many business owners fall into the trap of getting over-emotional about their brand. And I get this, branding is the most personal aspect of business. As mentioned above, branding is the process of giving your purpose an identity. So, it makes total sense that people become emotional about their brand.
However, being proud of your brand does not necessarily mean that it is a good brand. One common mistake a business owner makes when creating their brand, is the certain emotional connections the owner wants to reflect through the brand. The brand should be about the message that you want to communicate to your market and not the message you want to communicate to yourself.
Another common mistake is trying to be over-creative with your brand. This leads to a brand that is so complicated, nobody can understand the message of the business. Keep it simple, either the name or the tagline should explain exactly what your business is doing. If the name is creative and catchy, then the tagline must be straight to the point, and vice versa. A good measure is to test if your brand can be understood in under five seconds by somebody outside of your business.
Phase 3 & 4: Your marketing and sales strategy
Marketing and sales determine about 80% of the success or failure of your business. The two are also closely related and the strategy in your business for both should be complementary to each other. No matter how technically good you are in delivering your product or service offering, if you cannot get and convert a lead into a sale, you will have no technical work to do.
To readjust your marketing and sales strategy, use the following selling sequence to ensure a seamless sales approach. The natural selling sequence consists of (1) attention; (2) communication and (3) trust.
You need the consumer to pay attention to your business. You cannot sell anything if the consumer is not paying attention. Consumers will also not be interested to hear what you have to offer (sales pitch) if you have not grabbed their attention.
After grabbing the consumer’s attention, you need to communicate a clear message to them. A clear message builds trust, and trust results in sales.
When the prospect trusts you, they are willing to do business with you.
Marketing and sales is nothing other than an excellent product/service that people need, offered at a good price, communicated clearly, and delivered with service excellence.
Phase 5: Service delivery standards
The last component of revising your business model, is your service delivery standards. How easy and accessible is your product or service offering to your market internally and externally? The better your product or service delivery is, the more satisfied your client will be. Customer excellence has massive advantages for your business, including positive word of mouth to friends and family, and client loyalty.
It is proven that a loyal customer will not change service provider until the day the business he/she is loyal to, makes a mistake. One of the biggest assets you can build up over time, is a loyal customer base.
With the lessons you have learned during Covid-19, what will be the best way to approach your service delivery systems after lockdown? This could catapult your business internally and externally to a new level.
I highly recommend that you make use of a professional or a business coach in revising your business model or strategy. If you need assistance, we can help! I am the founder and owner of Business Plan Pro, a brand which I started late 2016 from scratch and grew to a team of four people. I am a SETA-accredited business facilitator, business plan specialist and keynote speaker on entrepreneurship, business growth strategies and economic transformation. I have personally consulted thousands of businesses and startups since 2013. I have founded Entrepreneurship School™, which is a Services SETA-accredited educational institute (SETA Registration Number: 13719).
We’ve recently assisted Niel Smuts from Sparkdust, who was running a business part-time and could not make the leap to quit his 08h00–17h00 job and go in the direction of his dream. In the business programme we assisted him to identify his dream and we helped him to write down a clear vision. After the foundation was fixed, we started working on his branding, marketing and sales. Sparkdust started to receive leads within the middle of the business programme and Niel managed to convert three of the leads into more than R80,000 in sales before the end of the business programme.
To read more, click here.