Temporary lockdown: What to do if your business has been hit by coronavirus

StrategyDriven Tactical Execution and Managing Your Business Article |Coronavirus Lockdown|Temporary lockdown: What to do if your business has been hit by coronavirusAs we all know, the world is coming to something of a halt courtesy of the recent coronavirus outbreak.
To say that it is unprecedented would be an understatement of the highest regard. Many countries have insisted that businesses have to be shut down and for the economy as a whole, this has monumental repercussions.

For self-employed individuals, this is a scary time. It’s going to be difficult, and for the time being at least not many people are going to hold many answers. Sure, the government might be pledging various support packages, but it remains to be seen what sort of difference this will make.

Bearing this in mind, today’s article takes a look at three areas which you should be considering if your business is bracing itself for a lockdown (or has already). Again, it might be of little consolation for the time being, but by keeping an eye on these areas it might do your chances of prevailing out of the other side of coronavirus the world of good.

Consider your storage options

Like it or not, this might be a time where you have to close your main premises. Some companies will decide to do this to cut costs, while others might decide that they just aren’t getting the footfall to merit staying open.

However, if you sell tangible products, you still need somewhere to store items. This is where you need to research storage units, or alternative smaller office space, as your business gets through this period. Both of these solutions can save you money in the short-term.

Be as flexible as you can with your employees

As we keep being told, this is going to be an almightily tough time for everyone in the world. Jobs will be lost, and some people really will be struggling to financially survive.

This is where you need to offer as much flex to your employees as possible. Granted, you can’t put the future of your business at risk and there will be times where tough decisions have to be made, but whenever possible try and add a degree of flexibility with your workers. It might be offering them the chance to take unpaid leave now, or even take their annual leave. Some people will realize the difficult positions that businesses are currently in and will accept these decisions, if they at least know in the back of their mind that they will have a job waiting for them when this crisis is over.

Communicate to customers whenever possible

We’ve entered an era into the unknown; nobody has ever experienced this before and it means a lot of issues are up in the air.

This is the time where communication is key. We’ve gone past the stage where we can stay quiet and hope for the best, customers will want updates as to where your business stands on the virus. This will largely depend on the nature of the industry you are involved in. For some, it might be the occasional email about stock levels, while for others it might be reassurance about the steps you are taking to minimize the risk of the virus spreading. Either way, communication is key during this period – people still need to know that your business is operating.

Part Of The Team: Managing Employees Effectively During The Coronavirus

StrategyDriven Talent Management and Managing Your People Article |Coronavirus|Part Of The Team: Managing Employees Effectively During The CoronavirusIt is safe to say that many businesses have had to adapt really quickly to the current situation. Businesses that had no idea how to incorporate remote working have had to do it quickly. But while we’ve all discovered new ways of working we’ve had to figure out how to keep our employees motivated during this difficult time. While it might not be top of your priority list right now, happy employees will continue to be productive ones. But this also means that you’ve got to learn how to manage them. You may very well be concerned about the state of the business but what can we do to make sure that our employees feel part of the organization despite what is going on?

Avoid Ambiguity

If we are more transparent our employees will know where they stand. It can prove to be challenging, especially when we have numerous employees to liaise with. But if we can find blanket ways to keep our employees on the same page this will go to alleviate some fears. Now, the benefit of work tools like Slack and Zoom have come into their own, and if we can increase our platforms for communication, whether this is incorporating a Coronavirus text alert so our employees are as up-to-date as humanly possible or improving our communication tools, we can work better at managing their anxieties. As simple as it is, being transparent can prove difficult, especially if we are worried about how long this pandemic will last and if our business will survive. But it’s not just about communicating the good things; it’s about communicating the bad but incorporating action plans so our employees know what will happen should things get worse. Ambiguity will breed anxiety so let’s minimize it.

Checking In With Them On An Individual Basis

It’s not easy to check in with them on an individual basis but while you may very well be having daily briefings where you can see them all, sometimes employees feel they can’t speak out on such an open forum. When our employees have individual stresses it’s crucial to ensure that they are focused and happy. And checking in with them on a semi-regular basis isn’t just being a good leader but it’s being a good friend. And this is something that we have to relax right now. Running a business is always at the forefront of our minds but when our employees feel so worried that they can’t do their job properly we must figure out a way to lessen their worries by providing a sympathetic ear or a friendly shoulder. When we get into the habit of checking in on an individual basis, like a quick phone call, the more we do this the more our employees will feel that they can open up. Some employees will keep everything bottled up and feel that they can’t speak their fears because you are “the boss.” But now is the perfect opportunity to incorporate a culture of sympathy and support. What’s more, this should be the perfect time to make it last well beyond the end of this crisis.

Understand Your Individual Stresses

If you are a good boss you will do everything you can for your employees to minimize their fears. And while it’s fantastic that you are doing everything for them, are you neglecting your own needs? You may feel hell-bent on keeping the business afloat which means that you are working overtime. And while in one respect it’s a very useful distraction considering the current climate, you’ve also got to realize if you are working yourself to the bone.

Managing your employees during a crisis isn’t just about giving them everything they need but it’s about them recognizing that you are focused and professional. If they see that you look like you’re about to break, this won’t fill them with confidence, so you need to lead by example. And it’s a lesson that we all need to learn anyway. If you look after yourself you will look after everybody else much better. Take the opportunity every single day, not just to look at the company and employees, but also look at yourself and see if you are looking after yourself properly. One of the great benefits of working from home right now is that we can have more control over our diet and our downtime. Use this as the perfect opportunity to instill some better habits.

It’s a time of the precariousness but we can also so use this as an opportunity for some introspection. Your employees need your support and you have to give them what they need. And if you struggled to support them before, this can be the best opportunity to draw a line in the sand.

Marketing Success: 7 Marketing Dos and Don’ts for Start Ups

StrategyDriven Online Marketing and Website Development Article |marketing success |Marketing Success: 7 Marketing Dos and Don'ts for Start UpsNine out of ten startups will fail. Having a strong marketing strategy can make or break the successful launch of a business.

Does your startup have the marketing blueprint it needs to make it in 2020? Follow these seven keys to marketing success and avoid mistakes.

Do: Position Your Startup Correctly

A little bit of planning goes a long way for your startup. Positioning your business at the beginning is important for getting started on the right foot. It doesn’t have to be difficult.

Write down the problem you are trying to solve and how your company or product can solve it. Include who the product is for and why there is a need for the product. List all the benefits of the product and how your product or company is different from competitors.

Describe your product or company in simplistic terms and avoid buzzwords or jargon. The positioning statement should be easy to read and explain the idea behind your product or company.

The positioning statement is an internal document. No one outside the startup will see it. Proper planning can lead to the top positioning of your product or company in the minds of your ideal consumers.

Don’t: Forget About Your Competitors

Now that you have your positioning statement laid out, you should be able to easily identify your competitors. It may have been good advice in the past to focus solely on your own company or product, but these days startups can’t afford to forget about their competition.

Keeping an eye on your competition will help you react to market changes before they do. At the very least it will help your startup respond more quickly.

If you can’t think of any direct competitors at this time, keep an eye on companies or products with overlapping features or companies who are vying for the same target customer. Do they have an app? Are they offering delivery? What keywords are they using? There is no need to obsess over these details but keep them in mind.

Startups can also learn from their competitor’s mistakes. Perhaps a competitor grew too quickly or put out too many variations of the product before the market was ready. By watching the competition a startup can learn valuable information about the market and avoid costly marketing mistakes.

Do: Use Social Media for Marketing Success

Social media is one of the best tools a startup can use for marketing on a budget. Social media has a lot of different uses than just advertising your company or products.

Social media can help your startup with market research. Take a look at your competitor’s mentions or what people are saying about existing products and companies. Social media allows you to get inside your potential customer’s heads and read the thoughts they put online.

Social media can be a great platform to help you craft your startup’s voice. Is your startup’s voice laid back, funny, or informational? Experiment with different tones until you find the one that works for your startup and then stick with it.

Don’t: Assume You Know Everything

A big marketing mistake lots of startups make is assuming they know everything about the market and what their customers want. Instead, startups should approach the customer and markets with a curious mind.

  • When was the last time you had a conversation with customers?
  • Have you ever conducted a focus group?
  • Do you give customers a chance to provide feedback through surveys?

Reading product reviews online and listening to customer feedback is a great opportunity for startups to hear directly from their customers. Take advantage of these feedback tools and keep an open mind about the feedback you receive.

Do: Use Email Marketing

Email marketing is a cost-effective strategy to include in your marketing work. People who sign up for your startup’s email marketing list are already highly engaged with your company and product. This means that it should be easy to make a sale or a repeat sale.

Setting up an email list for your startup should be a priority. Invite people you know to sign up for your email marketing list who may be interested in your company or product. Then ask your friends to share the emails with their friends.

Email marketing can help startups drive revenue through consistent interaction. Email your customers to let them know about sales or discounts and when new products launch. You can also send newsletters with educational information or testimonials from previous customers.

Don’t: Forget About Mobile

72.6% of all internet users will access the internet via their smartphones by 2025. That’s almost three-quarters of all internet users! Startups in today’s world must realize the importance of marketing on mobile and making their websites mobile-friendly.

Perhaps during your customer research, you have learned that your targeted customers like to use a certain app to keep organized or listen to a particular sports podcast. Mobile marketing can help you easily reach these customers.

With more and more people accessing webpages on their smartphone, it’s a good idea to optimize your webpage for mobile.

  • Can the website font be easily read without squinting?
  • Are the buttons large enough to tap?
  • Is your website easy to navigate on a mobile device?

Accessing the internet on a mobile device versus a desktop computer is only going to get more popular. By fixing these issues now, your website can achieve top positioning in search engines.

Do: Invest in a Blog

Dedicate a page on your website to a blog for your business. A blog can help your SEO and is indispensable in marketing because it is a platform that you own.

The last thing you want to do is build your entire marketing strategy on social media platforms who are constantly changing their algorithms.

Consistent blogging can also help your startup gain visibility. Think of it as your own social media platform of sorts. Blogging will help connect to your fans and support your business in many ways as it grows.

Marketing Success Is Within Your Reach

We all make mistakes, but not having a solid marketing plan could cost your startup.
Share these seven takeaways with your fellow entrepreneurs and set your startup for marketing success.

Is Your Business Ready to Hire a Small Batch Co-Packer?

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |small batch co-packer |Is Your Business Ready to Hire a Small Batch Co-Packer?Your food products may be gaining traction in the marketplace. Now is the perfect time to scale, but you have to find out the best way to do that.

It can be difficult to know if your business is ready to hire a small batch co-packer or not. What does a food co-packer do and how do you know if it’s time to hire one?

Keep reading to find out.

What Does a Food Co-Packer Do?

A food co-packer is also called a food contract packer. They are an existing food manufacturing plant that you contract with to produce your food product.

Many small consumer packaged goods companies will use food co-packers as a way to outsource food production.
This can be a game-changer for small businesses because it allows them to focus on the operational side of the business, and marketing and sales.

The fees for a food co-packer will depend on a number of variables. The size of the order, the ingredients involved, the co-packer’s labor and production costs are the main variables.

When you work with a small batch co-packer, you will have several advantages. You’ll be able to maintain high standards of quality. You’ll also have lower minimum order standards to meet.

This can be a great step if you want to move your business out of your small kitchen and you’re not at the point where you need to place a huge amount of orders.

How to Know if You Need a Food Co-Packer

A food co-packer can be a great asset to have if you are ready to scale up your business. How can you be sure that this is the right time to create a partnership with a food co-packer?

Here are some signs that you’re ready to take the next step in growing your food business.

You’re at Capacity

Have you taken your own manufacturing capabilities to the brink? You’ll find that you can only support a limited number of sales.

If you’re at the point where you have more demand for your products than you can handle, then it’s time to find a small batch co-packer.

You Can Scale Your Recipe

You may have initially developed your recipe in a tiny kitchen. You were able to scale it to satisfy more customers and still retain the quality of the final product.

Consumers are demanding healthy food. If your product falls in this category, you need to make sure that your recipe can handle large production runs with healthy, natural ingredients.

When you created your recipe, you may have used approximate measurements and still had great results. It’s much different working with a food manufacturer.

You have to give the manufacturer precise measurements to ensure quality. You have to do the same with cooking times and temperatures. Your recipe should deliver the same exact result no matter who the manufacturer is and which employee is managing production.

Sales Demand

You may be at capacity right now. Do you expect your sales to grow over time? Are your sales seasonal? Co-packers require a minimum run to make manufacturing your product profitable for them.

You may be able to try a test run of 1,000 units with a small batch co-packer to see how fast you sell the product.
That’s only a viable option if your product has a long shelf-life. Keep in mind that you’ll need to absorb storage costs if your sales slow below your projections.

If your product has a short shelf-life, your sales projections have to be as precise as your recipe.

You Have Capital

For businesses that have a significant amount of cash set aside, you can afford to take a financial risk and hire a co-packer.

There are other costs involved in co-packing that can make it challenging. You may have to pay research and development costs to the manufacturer. They will improve the recipe and give it a longer shelf-life.

There may be additional costs if your co-packer supplies the ingredients. At the same time, you may be able to save money if they provide the ingredients because they get a better volume discount.

A food co-packer requires significant investment. You want to make sure that you understand the risks involved before you hire one and you have enough capital on hand.

How to Find a Co-Packer

Do you think that your business is ready to work with a small batch co-packer? You have to find the right food co-packer to work with.

You should start by researching co-packers in your area. Talk to other food producers in your area and ask them how they manufacture their products.

You need to make sure that you find a co-packer that’s the perfect size. A co-packer that’s too large will be difficult to maintain. You’ll outgrow one that’s too small.

You’ll start to understand how food co-packers work and what you need to look for in a co-packer agreement.
The most important thing to know is that you cannot rush the process. Expect to invest at least six months before making a final decision.

A Small Batch Co-Packer Helps Your Business Grow

As a food business, you have to walk a very thin line between having enough inventory and having enough sales to move inventory.

That makes growing a food business a challenge. If you grow your capacity too fast, you don’t have the sales to support it. Grow your sales to fast, you have customers waiting for your product.

Both options can cost money. The best way to grow is to use a small batch co-packer, which gives you more capacity, but not too much. You also maintain quality as you scale your recipe up.

Finding the right small batch co-packer is a big step. You have to know what questions to ask and understand how co-packers work.

Be sure to visit this site often for more business and leadership insights.

Future-Proof Your Career

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article |Future-proof your career|Future-Proof Your CareerTimes are uncertain, particularly when it comes to the world of work. You may be worried about your future and what your job will look like next year, in five years’ time or even a decade or so down the line. You might be worrying that what you do will become obsolete. It’s only natural, but instead of worrying, wouldn’t it be better to take action and dow what you can to future-proof your career?

If you want to ensure that your skills and experience are still required in years to come, here are a few things you can do to future-proof your career starting now…

Work for academy organizations

Academy organizations are companies that invest in the development of their employees. When you work for them, you will be given lots of opportunities to learn new skills and reach your full potential. Because they take your development seriously, you are far less likely to be redundant in the future, Companies that are known to be academy organizations include Randstad and AT&T, but there are many more and you would do well to find some in your industry.

Stay Tech Savvy

There’s no turning back the clock when it comes to technology — it is in all our futures and that includes the future of our work as much as anything else. That is why if you want to future-proof your career, you really do need to keep up with technology and keep improving your digital skills whether that means learning how to code or studying for your agile product owner certification. The better you understand, and are able to use, technology, the more likely you are to remain employed now and in the future.

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article |Future-proof your career|Future-Proof Your CareerFocus on Transferable Skills

The business you are working for now might not still be in business 10 years down the line, so if you want to remain employable, it’s a really good idea to focus on transferable skills — the kind of skills that any employer in any sector will be looking for. This includes things like communication, leadership, creativity and management skills. If you keep these at the core of what you do, you will always be in demand.

Build a Global Network

The more people you know, the more opportunities are going to come your way. So, if you want to protect your career in the future, you need to build lasting connections now in the present, and you should ideally do so on a global level if you want to maximize your opportunities. So, connect with people on social media, attend trade events and conferences, write a blog, and do anything you can that will enable you to form bonds with others in your industry and adjacent industries that could use your talent.

Review Your Options

You may love your career now, but it pays to keep your options open, review the current climate and identify potential new opportunities, on a regular basis. By doing this, you will always know how you’re doing now and what else you could be doing if things start to change and you need to protect yourself.

The world might be changing, but you can maintain your success by being careful, staying up to date and building your network. I wish you luck!