Small Business Saturday Blog

Feeling lighter than air at The Float Spa

Thursday, December 17 at 07:30

#SmallBiz100 The Float Spa share how they created a new business from scratch, how they rolled with the punches during the coronavirus lockdown, and how they’ve been giving back to the NHS and essential workers who need it most.
The Float Spa was founded by Camille Pierson in 2015 after she discovered the benefits of floatation for herself in alleviating the symptoms of PTSD following a trauma.
The Float Spa now offers a full range of therapies including floatation therapy, infrared sauna sessions, yoga classes, massage, acupuncture, and homeopathy. These therapies can be used to alleviate stress, to treat mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, to ease physical aches and pains caused by postural problems, injuries or chronic conditions, or simply to optimise wellbeing or enhance sporting performance.
As they were starting out, the Float Spa faced an interesting double-edged challenge: on one hand, it was the first float centre in the Brighton and Hove area, with no established market; and on the other, it also offered massage and yoga classes, both of which were overrepresented in the area. This meant that they needed to raise awareness of the benefits of float therapy, while simultaneous proving the worth of their yoga classes and other therapies.
They tackled this by ensuring outstanding levels of customer care and hiring excellent yoga teachers and therapists, which ensured positive reviews. They were gradually able to build up their client base through extensive social media campaigns, networking and a huge number of word-of-mouth recommendations.
Appearing on the American Express Shop Small campaign interactive map enabled the Float Spa to find new customers and increase its footfall as it established itself as a new business in the area. This campaign underpins Float Spa’s belief that small businesses are at the core of every successful community, and offers a cashback offer for Cardmembers who shop small.
When the Float Spa was forced to close its doors in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, they kept their business going by running yoga classes online, creating a schedule of live classes alongside a member area on the website through which members could access hundreds of yoga classes whenever it was convenient for them. With the help of a small local grant, they also kick started a bath bomb making business using Epsom salts and natural ingredients.
During lockdown, the Float Spa worked alongside a group of local acupuncturists who were treating NHS workers for anxiety, depression and stress, offering lockdown-compliant free use of their facilities. They also ran a pay it forward campaign during lockdown: for every float purchased during lockdown for use after restrictions ended, they donated a voucher for a float session to an essential worker – 150 free float sessions were offered in total.
The Float Spa also supports the work of the Brighton Yoga Foundation, of which Camille is a trustee, to bring the benefits of yoga to the community for free: this is something that has continued throughout lockdown, providing valuable stress relief to the local community during these difficult times.
The Float Spa also has a strict environmental policy of avoiding single use plastics and offering a refill service for toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner and Epsom salts to customers, which has saved roughly 500 five litre plastic bottles, 50 15 litre plastic bottles and 500 1kg plastic bags since it was implemented.
Visit The Float Spa at 8 Third Ave, Hove, BN3 2PX or online here. The Float Spa is taking part in American Express’ Shop Small campaign: find them here on the Shop Small Map, and click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.

At the cutting edge of local community

Monday, December 14 at 10:00

When Simon Webster and his wife Sophie established an independent hair salon in Brighton’s fashionable North Laine, their aim was to provide an inclusive space for clients to visit and build a support network for other local creatives and traders. As strong champions of small businesses and active members of the local community, the couple share their thoughts on life through lockdown and how the survival of our High Streets relies on co-operation.
Founded in 2012 by ultra-creative husband and wife team Simon and Sophie Webster, Simon Webster Hair prides itself as family-run hair salon with a client-centred approach, that gives inventive stylists freedom to work on their own terms. 
Its talented team split their time between working in-salon and for fashion publications and designers, previously having taken part in Fashion Weeks across Europe and being featured in Vogue, Tatler, and Men's Health to name a few.
Establishing the salon as a vital part of the local community was integral to the project. Simon Webster Hair soon earned a reputation as a trailblazing, welcoming local independent that combines the professionalism, quality and creativity of a high-end brand. This winning formula helped it secure both the UK Ultimate Salon Award and Best Newcomer Award.
Passionate about using their platform to demonstrate the importance of inclusivity, Simon Webster Hair is a community space where the team, as well as their clients, contribute to the company’s policies, procedures, and brand. This ethos runs through all aspects of the business, from fair employment terms to the services they offer, and using their own clients as models in collections. The team works with all hair types, textures and wigs, and were pioneers of innovative, gender-free pricing where appointments are charged by time.
As a close-contact business, Simon Webster Hair had to close its doors when lockdown hit the country in March. Using the time as an opportunity for growth, the team concentrated on building relationships by personally calling clients, arranging bespoke product-drops to their homes, and using social media to share ideas on home-styling.
The community ethos doesn’t just stop with the salon’s clients: during lockdown, the team worked with product suppliers and charities to create over 500 care packages which were distributed to vulnerable families and the homeless across Brighton, as well as providing pamper packs for the local hospital’s midwives.
Social media and video have also proved crucial in keeping clients updated on the work going on behind the scenes to make the space COVID-secure and to assure customers that their safety is paramount.
 
“It’s always been about people over profit for us and we were determined not to lose sight of that despite the challenges of lockdown,” say Simon. “That sense of being stronger together has always been our ethos and it was prevalent during the peak of Coronavirus cases.”
Whether it's contributing to the safety of Brighton Pride, sponsoring arts events at Brighton Festival, fundraising for Brighton Women’s Centre, offering thank-you rewards for shopping at small businesses, or providing free haircuts to the homeless and vulnerable, it's clear that supporting the local community is at the very heart of this small business.
The salon took part in the American Express Shop Small campaign when they reopened after the first national lockdown at the start of July. Due to the unprecedented circumstances this year, American Express extended its ‘Spend £10 get £5 back’ Shop Small offer, which normally kicks off on Small Business Saturday, to run for 12 weeks through to September.
Sophie says: “It’s wonderful to have American Express’ support at such a difficult time.”
In the future, Simon Webster Hair aims to build their clientele and provide further opportunities for its tight-knit team to expand their skills and nurture their talents. Meanwhile, the business continues to promote the shared benefits of progressive business approaches and practices to other companies through industry events and networking.
“The importance of keeping our high street thriving depends on co-operation rather than competition, so our motivator is to encourage local spending and reinvestment in our communities because we know we're stronger together,” says Simon. “We mustn’t forget the lessons we learned when we all paused and took stock of what really matters.”
Visit Simon Webster Hair at 16 Gardner St, Brighton BN1 1UP, or online here. Click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.

Sewing the seeds of success in Scotland

Thursday, December 10 at 07:30

Lianne Garven has always had a passion for crafting and studied textiles at Heriot Watt university. So when the opportunity arrived to purchase I Sew 2, a fabric, yarn and haberdashery shop on the outskirts of Glasgow, she didn’t think twice – and says she has never looked back.
I Sew 2 prides itself on being a unique place which will inspire and delight anyone who knits, crochets, or sews. The shop is filled with colourful displays of yarn and fabric, and it also runs workshops, often taught by local craftspeople, where customers can learn new skills and create something unique in a relaxed and fun environment.
Business at I Sew 2 has grown steadily, but the current pandemic had an immediate effect and, like so many other businesses, the shop has had to adapt. 
During the initial lockdown, Lianne would personally deliver orders to five different areas on rotation – a real boon to people looking to do something creative with their time during lockdown. Gradually she introduced customer collections, a take-away counter and a restricted access opening.
Campaigns like Shop Small, which encourages people to shop at small businesses by offering cashback to American Express cardholders, is something that gave Lianne’s business a boost over the summer, when the initiative was introduced to support small businesses during the pandemic.
Lianne says: “The summer campaign this year was great. To have the support of such a large organisation is tremendous.” She adds that the business has taken part in Small Business Saturday for the past two years and is thrilled to be one of the campaign’s SmallBiz100 in 2020.
This recognition reflects how much I Sew 2 is at the heart of the community. For example, Lianne and her team coordinated the stunning refurbishment of a local disused telephone box on the main street of Kirkintilloch. With the help of the community council, each panel inside the telephone box was made by local residents, businesses, or the regional embroiderer’s guild, creating a unique craft-display representing the local area. 
Lianne’s future plans include using a new, bigger workshop area, borne of necessity during the pandemic, for community-based activities. She has free ‘knit and natter’ sessions, workshops for sewing face-covering and an upcycle challenge in the works.
“This year has been difficult for so many businesses, but our future success lies in continuing to adapt to the changing circumstances”, says Lianne. This attitude and support from her loyal customers will no doubt help to sew success.
Visit I Sew 2 at 117 Townhead, Kirkintilloch, Glasgow G66 1NX or online here. I Sew 2 is taking part in American Express’ Shop Small campaign: click here to find out more about the campaign.

Joco's leap of faith pays off

Tuesday, December 08 at 07:30

Joco Interiors is now Nuneaton's largest dedicated gift shop – but this wasn’t always the case. Jo Williams tells us how taking a chance has helped her business grow to be a community hub and a valuable asset for local creatives, and how she’s managed to thrive during lockdown.
Joco opened in April 2015, based in a tiny shop on the outskirts of Nuneaton in Warwickshire. After two years though, with a low footfall and an equally low turnover, owner Jo had to decide whether to close her doors altogether or take a leap of faith and move premises. She chose the latter, moving to the Abbeygate Shopping Centre in the heart of Nuneaton. Fortunately, the gamble paid off: her turnover multiplied five-fold and she soon had to take on her first member of staff, followed by an apprentice, who went on to win awards including local awards for Apprentice of the Year and STAR Student of the Year as the most improved student.
Within two years, Joco had outgrown the unit it was in, and relocated again, this time to the prestigious Ropewalk Shopping Centre in Nuneaton town centre. Jo now has a team of six part-time staff, and plans to increase the shop’s online business.
During the first coronavirus lockdown, all of Jo’s staff were furloughed, but after a couple of weeks she returned to the shop and began running Facebook live sales, which has increased their following, maintained sales during the lockdown period and created a new online community of customers. Jo says that without the live sales during the initial months of lockdown, Joco could very well have been another business lost to the restrictions. Now that restrictions have been eased, she has continued to offer live streaming of sales to increase footfall to the shop, together with a delivery service for customers who can’t or don’t wish to visit in person.
Joco offers local artists and crafters a valuable resource to sell what they make, alongside branded merchandise such as Harry Potter and Disney. Catering for all tastes and budgets, their ranges start from just 99p, and cover anything from gothic style skulls to Disney princesses.
Jo says, “Nuneaton is socially deprived and so we have to help our customers in any way we can.” Supporting the local community with fundraisers and attending charity events has made Joco a household name locally, and they also support three local charities as often as they can, with raffles, donating prizes for events and a collection tin for change.
Joco offers a savings club for those who would like to spread the cost of a big event such as a wedding or Christmas, a loyalty card scheme and payment plans for larger items. The small team is very friendly and will help with any customer query, even if it means directing them to another shop in the town.
Jo says “We have taken part in the shop small campaign and customers have been using their American Express cards to claim back their £5 when shopping with small independent businesses in the town. Our customers have been pleased to see that we accept the card and this often leads to them spending more than anticipated.”
Having previously won two national gift retailer awards, FSB Finalists and winner of the Telegraph Business Award, Jo tells us “The shop’s tagline is ‘The place to treat yourself and others’ – and it couldn’t be more appropriate.”
Visit Joco Interiors at Unit 5, Ropewalk Shopping Centre, Chapel St, Nuneaton CV11 5TZ or online here. Joco is taking part in American Express’ Shop Small campaign: find them here on the Shop Small Map, and click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.

No messing around! How Tom Foolery Coffee Company pivoted during the pandemic

Friday, December 04 at 07:30

Like many small businesses, the challenges of 2020 took Tom Foolery by surprise, but they bounced back fast with the support of their community in Shoreham-by-Sea.
Bob and Vanessa McCulloch always dreamed of doing something that would have a huge local impact, while celebrating their love of great coffee, delicious food, music and the arts.
Tom Foolery Coffee Company, which they opened in 2014, combines all of these passions. The ethos has always been to bring the best in locally sourced food and drink with a warm welcome. They serve their own blend of coffee - Fools Gold - developed in partnership with local suppliers Horsham Roasters, in their vibrant shop overlooking the River Adur.
Family friendly, dog friendly, and supportive of people working from home with free Wi-Fi, Tom Foolery has always had deep roots in the community. It is a core supporter of the Shoreham Light Show and family event and a key element of the annual Adur Arts Trail and Adur Wordfest. They have provided pop-up restaurant space for start-ups, and have a rolling programme of local art exhibitions, as well as hosting various speakers, shows and comedy nights. They are also a proud sponsor of the Shoreham and Adur Under 13 Girls Football League.
Of course, the impact of Covid-19 pandemic has brought challenges for these wonderful community initiatives, along with Tom Foolery itself.
After closing in the first lockdown – and reeling at the unprecedented situation – they knuckled down to create a plan, building a whole new counter at the front of the shop in the style of a food truck, and reopening with a fun summer festival style service and a new takeaway menu. Their customers have been really supportive and appreciated the efforts that Tom Foolery made as they pivoted their business model in these changing times.
While this worked brilliantly in the summer, the team has had to innovate for the winter weather.  Social distancing rules will mean a 30% reduction in revenue, so, to counter this, they have been developing a new retail element under the header #TakeTomHome. 
The shop is offering a branded range of t-shirts, aprons, and tea towels; a home cooked range including tomato ketchup, hot sauce, jams and fudges; and a range of equipment for coffee making, such as AeroPress and recyclable coffee pods.  They aim for this new range to complement what they currently do, close the 30% gap, and provide a springboard for the future. 
Tom Foolery has been working with American Express since it opened and appreciates the brand’s understanding and support of small businesses. It has taken part in the various AMEX initiatives, such as Shop Small with its ‘spend £10 get £5 back’ offer, which has proven popular with customers. 
Whether you’re popping by for coffee or cake, or a working lunch (when restrictions ease), Tom and Vanessa always aim to make a big impression for a small business. This has led to invaluable support from their community in 2020: they are clearly no fools!
Visit Tom Foolery at 6 High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea BN43 5DA or online here. Click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.

How Mandira’s Kitchen has its eye on spicing up your freezer

Tuesday, December 01 at 07:30

Mandira's Kitchen is an all-woman business based in the Surrey Hills that produces authentic, award-winning Indian freezer meals. All of their food is lovingly handmade using traditional methods, local produce and family recipes, offering wholesome preservative-free home-cooked food with gluten-free, dairy free and vegan alternatives.
Mandira Sarkar moved to the UK without knowing how to cook. She spent 17 years complaining about the lack of proper Indian food, until an exasperated friend told her to put her money where her mouth was. She decided to follow her heart and do something that her parents would heartily disapprove of - give up a well-paying, settled job in her forties to cook for a living!
Mandira’s business now operates out of a converted cowshed, where her team creates award-winning food, offers culinary experiences such as cookery lessons and supper clubs, alongside bespoke catering, and operates a shop boasting freshly brewed chai, the best Malabar coffee and the crispest samosas in town.
Its freshly frozen meals are available at many farm shops and can also be delivered to any UK address, ready to heat from frozen in four minutes. It has also introduced monthly ‘Boxes of Happiness’ - the UK's first Indian meal subscription service.
The team are firm believers in using local produce as far as possible and work closely with their partners to actively support and showcase the best of British produce. They are also passionate about protecting the environment, and use no single use plastic - even their meals are sold in cardboard trays.
Mandira is a fan of American Express’ Shop Small campaign, which she thinks is a wonderful initiative to encourage people across the UK to support their local independents.
Mandira says: “It’s great to see Amex supporting small businesses like mine with their Shop Small campaign. We absolutely need everyone to get behind us right now.”
Mandira’s Kitchen has been awarded the Trademark of Surrey Hills Enterprises, which celebrates high quality businesses and organisations that have demonstrated a high percentage of local provenance, consistent quality, environmental sustainability and support for the community and environment.
Mandira’s plan is to conquer the UK one freezer at a time – so watch out!
Visit Mandira’s Kitchen at Silent Pool, Shere Rd, Albury, Guildford GU5 9BW or shop online here. Click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.

Wild about keeping it local and healthy in Bristol

Tuesday, November 24 at 18:12

Now approaching its fortieth year of trading in the same location - just off Bristol’s Whiteladies Road - Wild Oats health store is an institution in the local community. It offers the best quality natural, organic, fair trade foods and ethically sound products, as well as information on healthy and ecologically conscious lifestyles.
The shop has been owned by Mike and Loes Abrahams since it was established in 1981, inspired by their passion for the ‘wild and wonderful’ world of healthy wholefoods. It was a complete change of career for Mike, who stepped away from the European space agency to set up the business.
There were few shops of its kind around in those days, but the demand for healthy wholefoods was growing rapidly and their leap of faith paid off: the shop went quickly from strength to strength.
The store now offers a huge selection of health and wellbeing products; award-winning organic breads, natural and organic foods, a wide range of chilled and frozen products, extensive deli, organic wines and beers (suitable for both vegetarians and vegans), natural health products, nutritional supplements, homeopathic remedies and aromatherapy, bath and beauty items, natural baby care, cosmetics, and scoop bins for loose buying of grains, pulses, dried fruits and nuts.
Marketing manager Jordan says that they took part in Amex’s Shop Small ‘spend £10, get £5 back’ offer between June and September 2020 and value the Shop Small initiative. “Anything which helps customers to find us and encourages people to shop small and shop local is incredibly valuable for small businesses like ours, as well as benefiting our customers.”
Wild Oats always aims to cater to all and to offer a complete shopping experience. It runs a free service for those seeking advice on supplements and dietary advice, and their staff live the ethos of the store and are well placed to give whole body advice.
Wild Oats prides itself on using local suppliers wherever possible, carefully sourcing produce from honey, to deli items and a variety of other groceries from across the Bristol and Somerset region. It also works with other nearby businesses to promote the area, share products and use local tradesmen. It also recently launched a ‘Buy 2 Take 1’ campaign to support their local community, which encourages customers to buy an extra product each time they shop, which will then be donated to a local charity.
Looking to the future, Wild Oats has recently branched out into e-commerce, and also plans to open a second bricks and mortar store in the future. It’s clearly time for them to spread their wings even further!
Visit Wild Oats at 9-11 Lower Redland Road, Redland, Bristol BS6 6TB or online here. Click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.

Award winning small business announced at Blue Tie celebration

Thursday, October 15 at 22:04

 

We always knew that this year’s Blue Tie – an annual event which celebrates all of our SmallBiz100, past and present – was going to be a little different this year, but it was fantastic to see small businesses up and down the country didn’t let the pandemic stop the party.
For the past two years the event has taken place at the Phoenix Arts Club, itself a previous SmallBiz100, in London. Of course, due to the current Covid-19 situation this was not to be this year, but we were determined not to let social distancing dampen our spirits and moved our event online.
Over a hundred SmallBiz100 showed up to our virtual event, rocking their blue tie and enjoying delicious cocktails from Bows n’ Toes, delivered in advance by post. We were also treated to some truly amazing online entertainment by the Phoenix Arts Club, Jo Porter’s ‘Kitchen Dancing’ and magician David Deanie, creator of Around the Box.
We were also delighted to announce Yvonne Gorman, owner of Essential Print Services in Derby as winner of the Francesca Kemp Award for Small Business.
Fran’s business, Crafty Revolution was one of our SmallBiz100 in 2014, and after Fran sadly passed away from cancer in 2015, the award was created in her memory to honour a small business that demonstrates an outstanding contribution both to their local area and to the UK small business community. Traditionally announced at the annual Blue Tie Ball, the award is always a huge celebration – exactly as Fran would have wanted.
Essential Print Services actually supplied the Blue Tie t-shirts worn by many of the guests – just one way in which Yvonne has supported the small business community in Derby and further afield. Yvonne was selected as a SmallBiz100 all the way back in 2013, following which she was nominated for Small Business Saturday UK Champion, which saw her visiting Downing Street not once but twice. Last year she was named as one of our 12 Small Business Heroes, making her one of the public faces of the campaign.
To add to the excitement of the evening, fellow Derby small businessman Owen Conti from Code56 hid outside Yvonne’s house throughout the ceremony so that he could surprise her with the award presentation, which was live streamed to the rest of the attendees.
Michelle Ovens MBE, Director of Small Business Saturday UK said: “Yvonne is an absolute superstar, who does so much to support small businesses both in her local area of Derby and across the country. She is always generous with her time and goes above and beyond in supporting Small Business Saturday and getting others involved each year. She is a special person who really embraces the community spirit that we see running through small businesses across the UK. Congratulations to Yvonne for her fantastic achievement in winning this award.”
We were delighted that so many SmallBiz100 past and present were able to join us, despite the unusual circumstances surrounding this year’s event: their resilience and good humour in the face of adversity reflects the strengths of the hundreds of brilliant small businesses all across the UK. And many thanks as ever to everyone who worked so hard to make the event such a resounding success.

Free leadership training for SME leaders delivered by leading Business Schools

Thursday, August 13 at 13:21

Anne Kiem from the Small Business Charter talks about the new government training programme for small business leaders. She outlines some of the benefits of registering for the programme.

The Small Business Leadership Programme is something we are incredibly proud to deliver. The scheme will support senior leaders to enhance their business’s resilience, aid recovery from the impact of COVID-19, and develop potential for future growth and productivity.
Through our Small Business Charter network of 20 leading business schools we are able to bring this programme to life to help small businesses survive this awful pandemic and enable them to thrive.
From business survival to growth in 90 minutes per week
The programme is a ten-week course delivered online and government-funded to be free for business leaders of companies of 5-249 people. It’s designed to run alongside your work schedule, with one 90-minute webinar per week on a key practical topic plus online group work with like-minded business leaders in your area.
The programme was launched by the government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy last week. It’s already proving very popular, so if you’re interested you should register now. Places are limited and we don’t want supporters of Small Business Saturday to miss out. If you participate in the programme you will be supported to:
Recover from the impact of COVID-19 and plan for the future of your business
Develop your strategic capability to plan for the future of your business, to increase resilience and ensure that your business is in a great position to recover from the impact of COVID-19. Learn techniques for successful business planning with guidance from the experts.
Boost your business performance and growth. Improve risk management and efficiency
The course will show how innovation can impact productivity, helping you to respond and recover from challenges, leaving you better equipped to cope with the unexpected. Build a strategic approach to operations management including the use of digital technologies.
Build lasting relationships with small business leaders
Meet and work with other small business leaders in your area on the course. Network with like-minded business leaders and bounce ideas off each other. Forge business friendships and support each other for mutual benefit.
Build leadership confidence and effectiveness and create an innovative and agile organisation
Reflect on your leadership style and improve your business’s performance. Learn how to think creatively, grow in confidence to drive your business forward. England is a nation of small business and entrepreneurship and you will learn vital skills and grow confidence to be able to shape your business in a post-COVID world.
How do I get involved?
Sign up now! For more details on this exciting programme see here and to register click here. Good luck everybody!
Anne Kiem is Executive Director of the Small Business Charter and Chief Executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools.

Six things you can do in your business right now

Thursday, June 18 at 23:30

Here are six things you can do right now to support your business during the current situation.
1. Focus on your product
Even during economic downturns, people do spend. People right now are buying for three main reasons: to protect (themselves, their health and their family); to connect (lots of gifting going on at the moment while people can’t see their loved ones in person); and to distract (whether themselves, by taking on a new hobby, or by keeping their kids occupied).
There's even something called the "lipstick effect", after researchers noticed an upturn in lipstick sales during a recession because it is a cheap way to cheer yourself up. Small luxuries are selling better than ever.
Selling products is always about seduction. It's always about finding the products that your customer really, really wants to buy. But during tough times, it’s more important than ever.
Start by taking a look at your data. What are your best sellers? Then think about your products. Are you moving them on? Are you offering your customer something new? This is now the time for you to be really critical and honest about your products - is there anything you can do better?
And think about the main motivators that people have right now for buying. Can you combine connect and distract, for example, by offering gift kits that people can send to loved ones to keep them busy?
2. Manage your stock
You want to make yourself as nimble as possible with only the stock you need.
If you've had something in your business for a while and it's finally sold, you don't have to replace it. You should only be re-buying in best sellers.
Ideally, every business should have cash reserves - money to see them through difficult times, and that is really hard to do if you put all your money into stock. If stock management was critical before, it is absolutely vital now.
This is also the perfect time to go through your inventory and check your stock records are accurate, as well as review what stock you think you will realistically sell for the rest of the year. Are there any seasonal items that won’t sell and could be put away for next spring? Do you have the stock you need going into the summer and autumn selling periods?
3. Avoid knee-jerk promotions
If your sales are lower than they've been, it’s because we're in very uncertain times and nothing is worse for sales than uncertainty.
If you knee-jerk and start running discounts to get sales going again, there is a danger that you will come out of this (hopefully temporary) situation having taught your customer that you are a promotion-driven brand.
In the future, they would be trained to wait until you go on promotion rather than buying at full price. You want to avoid this at any cost.
4. Have a really honest look at your numbers
It’s time to have a really honest look at your sales forecast.
If you don't have the sales forecast, now is a great time for you to get one, because you need to understand how your cash flow will look over the next few months.
Knowledge is power. If you can map out the next few months based on a realistic and a worst case scenario, then that’s going to be a lot less uncomfortable than ignoring the problem and hoping it goes away.
5. Be proactive
Think about what you can do to improve your business. Consider all of those areas of development that you've thought about previously but never had time to put into action.
Think about using this time to get yourself fit for the future. Things like your sales forecasting and your stock control are basic business management principles that you can work on and improve, but also look at your business and be proactive about what else you can improve.
6. Stay close to your customers
It's going to be bumpy. You're going to feel demoralised - but don't retreat.
Think of selling as service. How could you help your customers? How can you meet them where they are right now? So if they're uncertain, or they're stressed, talk to them. The people who go out there and really connect with people and meet them where they are will be the ones who continue to make sales.
In summary: don't panic, focus on your products. Manage your stock. Avoid knee jerk promotions. Have a really honest look at your numbers. Have a really good look at your business and identify areas that you could work on to get ready to come out of this stronger than ever, and stay close to your customers.
If you are proactive and action focused, if you stay positive and you keep showing up, then the outcome will be so much better for you and for your business.
Catherine Erdly is the founder of Future Retail Consulting, and is on a mission to help people create the life they want by growing successful product-based businesses. She helps them make money by developing a clear strategy focused on their product offering, their pricing, and their sales channels. Head over to Future Retail Consulting for your FREE road map for business success.

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