Over the past month, we’ve worked with lots of women entrepreneurs, and we’re starting to see them turn a corner and settle into this new normal. Some are even getting ahead of the curve and embracing some of these changes!
If you’re somewhere between surviving and thriving, here are four ways to help you find your path forward:
More than a month in, you’re likely well into this stage. How will you progress from here?
Review your cash flow and eliminate any non-essential expenses. (Here’s a helpful webinar that reviews cash flow planning).
Review each product or service to truly understand which ones are the most valuable at this point in time. One strategy to increase profits is to eliminate lower-margin products or services, and there’s no time like the present to review your margins.
Also, connect with your bank and accountant to understand the options available to you.
If you anticipate the need for a loan, ask for money now, before you need it. At WEC, we’re providing clients with the option to apply for a loan now, but defer their decision on whether to disburse the loan for six months. This additional flexibility will allow new loan clients the time to decide whether to continue with their original plans for their business.
Connect with your customers and ask what they need. Tell them how they can support you. And make sure you keep communicating. Don’t be a victim of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’
What other ways can you generate revenue?
Keep in mind: your pivot must have some direct relevance to the original business. It should leverage the skills, competencies and areas of expertise of your core business and your core team.
That said, small pivots such as these are common: children’s activity hubs offering take-and-make kits; hair salons offering colour kits for delivery; stores offering concierge shopping with curbside pickup; increasing online offerings.
A full pivot is NOT for all businesses and may not be a wise choice if you’re grasping at straws. Remember all of the market research that you did prior to opening this business? Even in times of crisis, you want to make informed decisions and investments.
If you see an opportunity for growth that coincides with your mission and brand, yet you lack some of the key skills to execute a new initiative, then a partnership might help you bridge that gap.
Are there other businesses you can partner with to leverage resources, staff, supply chains, or distribution channels?
Many businesses are collaborating on bundles that include a selection of local products, then collaborating on the promotion to expand their reach to new customers and splitting the delivery costs.
You can also think about your community as partner in your success. Remember, service providers like Women’s Enterprise Centre want to see you succeed. Lenders are becoming more flexible than ever, and many Chambers of Commerce are holding roundtables to see what local businesses need, and connecting them with partners who can help.
A shift in mindset about what a ‘partner’ means will also help if you need to negotiate new terms for a lease or contract (more tips about that in this free webinar recording). You and your landlord both have something to gain by keeping you in your commercial space. If you need help understanding your current obligations, this recording of a Legal Q&A might have some answers for you.
4. Persevere and Prosper!
Understand what you can control and what you can’t, and realize that this is a marathon and not a sprint. What are your plans for the next 3 months, and then beyond?
Use this time to truly evaluate your business and centre on your “why.”
If there’s a positive to come out of this challenge, it’s that those businesses that survive will come out leaner, more efficient and more innovative.