5 ways to grow your business in a COVID-19 world
Make a strong start to 2021 with these tips to help increase profits in your business and get back on track after a tough year.
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that adaptability is key when it comes to running a business. If yours is still reeling from the roller-coaster ride that was 2020 and you’re keen for a fresh start and to increase profit, now’s the time to take action. Here are ways to help you increase your business profits, so you can start the year off on the right foot.
The way businesses operate was one of the biggest changes of 2020, but the way customers engage and interact with businesses has dramatically changed also. That’s why it’s important to pause and take stock of the updates that your customers are hungry for. One way to identify whether your customers’ needs have evolved is to look at what they’re currently buying and how they choose to communicate with you.
For example, where are the majority of enquiries coming from? Is it through your website? Your social channels? Or do they prefer to call directly? Which payment methods do your customers prefer? Once you’re clear on where traffic originates from and what your customers want, you should know where to focus your marketing efforts. This can increase your chances of generating warm leads and sealing more deals.
The same principle applies to your sales. What’s selling and what isn’t? Are people still purchasing the usual best-sellers, or are they gravitating towards other items or services? If so, think about what you can do to satisfy their changing demands, such as expanding or diversifying your offering for example. If sales are down significantly across the board, a more substantial business pivot may help reinvigorate your operations.
Last year’s events served as a catalyst for business’ digitisation across all types of industries. Anyone who wanted to stay in business amid bushfires and pandemic restrictions had almost no choice but to make the move online.
Many businesses have enjoyed the perks of eCommerce and digitisation, including connecting with and reaching more customers regardless of where they lived or whether a physical shopfront was open. Reflecting on the change, it’s safe to say that having a strong online presence is no longer a competitive advantage for a business.
If you don’t already have a sleek, functional website, eCommerce capability, and a strong social media presence, it might be time to get started. But remember, going online is not a set-and-forget mission. It’s important to keep things up to date and be responsive to customer enquiries on all your channels. Outdated information and slow (or no) customer support may deter users from engaging further with your brand – especially when they’re first-time visitors.
Of course, it’s one thing to build a digital shopfront, but getting people to take notice is another. You’ll need to have a strategy in place for that. A successful digital marketing strategy consists of different moving parts that ultimately work together to achieve a common goal: to get the machine that is your business going. Some of these parts are:
• Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): This means optimising the content on your website using keywords and other criteria to increase your chances of ranking higher in results on search engines such as Google.
• Search Engine Marketing (SEM): As part of SEM, you can pay to appear in sponsored posts in search and banner ads across the web to help increase traffic to your site or advertise a particular product or service.
• A social media strategy: Social media is an effective and cost-efficient way to attract bigger audiences to engage with your brand. Signing up and operating an account is usually free, but you can use paid advertising to reach more people and grow your community. Just like SEM, you can tailor and monitor your expenses across your campaigns to suit your budget.
• Electronic Direct Mail (EDM) marketing: EDM marketing providers allow you to effortlessly create and send newsletters and other promotional material to your customer database. This is generally called EDM (or email) marketing. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your customers and keep them informed about specials, promotions and changes to your business.
Another way to increase your profits is by looking inwards. Conduct an assessment of your operations to see if there’s anywhere you could potentially cut costs. See if the processes currently in place still provide a desirable return on investment or whether there might be a more cost-efficient way to do things now. For example, could you replace manual processes, such as accounting or invoicing, with automated software?
If you’re worried about payroll inefficiencies, but need another pair of hands, consider hiring contractors and freelancers to do the job on a need-to basis instead of hiring a full-time employee. Under this type of arrangement, you only pay for the agreed amount of time. Diversifying your payment methods to include more cashless options could also help increase sales by removing potential purchase barriers for customers. This can streamline transactions and make your end-of-day reconciliation more efficient.
Workplace culture and mental health in the workplace have been among the most affected business areas this past year. It’s become even more important for business owners to look out for their employees. Making sure everyone feels supported and in a good frame of mind is not only good for your team, but also your bottom line. After all, happy employees are proven to perform better.
If you feel your company culture could use a boost, think about what you could do to create a more positive and motivating atmosphere. This could be as simple as encouraging a culture of open communication where people feel comfortable to share ideas, concerns and speak their mind. Listen to what your team has to say and take everyone’s feedback on board. You can use this feedback to work out how you can best support them in future, too.
When it comes to operating in a COVID-19 world, a great way to move your business forward is to remain agile. Right now, this means preparing for digitisation, managing costs and doing whatever you can to stay connected to your customers and employees.
This information does not take into account your personal circumstances and is general. It is an overview only and should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon. Consider obtaining personalised advice from a professional financial adviser and your accountant before making any financial decisions in relation to the matters discussed in this article, including when considering tax and finance options for your business.