Flooding, such as that experienced across the country over the Christmas period, is completely indiscriminate – affecting homes and businesses of all sizes.
For small businesses the impact is doubled especially for sole traders where it is not just the cost of the actual damage but also the loss of income whilst their business is closed.
Keeping your business afloat during this difficult time might seem impossible but there are always options open to you.
Take a look at your business offering: does it have to be run from the premises that you have always used? Could your business be mobile and go to your customers? This isn’t just for hairdressers – this could apply to motor mechanics, tattoo artists, bicycle technicians. Or if you are “office-based” could you work from a café, your home or friend’s office?
Could your business be ‘virtual’? Having a website is one thing, but trading through it (ecommerce) is often overlooked by micro and small businesses as set-up costs can seem prohibitive. However there are shopfronts that you can trade through (and link to via your existing website) – ebay, etsy and amazon to name but a few. Generally you are able to brand your store within these shopfronts so that buyers recognise that they are supporting you and your business. Even if you don’t have your own website using these “shopfront” websites is an option for you.
If you typically use your business premises to meet clients and discuss business is there a way of doing this online – skype, facetime – or seek alternative premises?
Could Skype be an easier alternative for meetings?
Think about physical affiliates too. Is there a business that complements your own: where you have the same customer target but each have a non-competing product or service? Could you rent space in their premises – this would widen their offering and give them an additional income stream and you would benefit from their existing customer footfall. If you need physical premises then do explore “pop-up” premises as an option – often temporary and in vacant shops these can give a high-street presence for a fraction of the cost.
Whichever path you choose to explore the most important aspect to maintaining your business in these troublesome times is to let your existing customers know what is going on and where they can find you
If you have a social networking page eg Facebook, Twitter or Linked In then let customers know the situation, let them know where your business will operate from. Use the relevant ‘flood’ Facebook pages and groups to keep people informed too.
Use your customers email addresses – if you can advise when things are likely to return to normal then do so. Remember to include links to your website/etsy/ebay store too, if you choose to go down this route.
Similarly you can text your customers too. Most mobile phones allow for group texts to be sent – so you can select all your clients and send one message.
Due to the scale of the flooding much local media across the country is supporting businesses and announcing information on re-opens, moves and temporary telephone numbers so do remember to contact your local radio stations and papers.
Have you contacted your local press?
Whilst the floods may feel devastating they can throw open doors of opportunity for your business. Just using one of the options above could change your business, temporarily, or forever.
If you would like to talk about how marketing your business can help it grow even during these times, then do feel free to contact me.