Small Business Saturday Blog

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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