Tips for SME’s During Lockdown

Lisa Illingworth, founder, and CEO of FutureProof SA
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Focus on ‘problem solving’ rather than a quick win.

The COVID-19 lockdown has small businesses up in arms. In just two weeks everything has changed, and businesses have had little to no time to prepare for it.

Many small businesses live month-to-month with little to no reserves in place. They rely heavily on their customers who are now also in a tight spot and while funding has been made available, there are still plenty of costs to cover.

Lisa Illingworth, CEO, and co-founder of FutureProof SA says that the COVID-19 lockdown means ‘adapt or die’ for many small business owners. 

“We’ve been talking to the unique traits that entrepreneurs possess for quite some time now and these are certainly being brought to light during the lockdown,” says Lisa. “Traits such as adaptability and flexibility are now coming into play. Small businesses built on the traditional brick and mortar model have had to acclimatise – quickly”.

Other Orders of Business

For those who are struggling to adapt to the lockdown in general, plan your time wisely and structure your day”.

Stay in touch with your customers and schedule calls to connect on a human level. “Pre-lockdown, e-mail and WhatsApp communication was the order of the day. Now, on the other hand, we are seeing the value in connecting face-to-face interaction via Zoom, Skype, phone etc.”

“By connecting over a call, we can truly understand our customers, the pain points that they are facing and help to solve these. Let’s focus on problem solving rather than a ‘quick sale’, even under cash flow pressures,” Lisa elaborates. 

“Now is a time for adding value and connecting on a new level.”

Get Digitally Savvy, Quickly

Sadly, not all digital and online launches have been successful. “With a lack of time and resources at their disposal, not every SME will be successful in the digital space. The strategy behind this takes months to master and putting an effective campaign in place is key”.

Now a few days into lockdown, Lisa believes that there is still time for small businesses to rehash their digital strategy and has provided several key tips:

1. The “Fit”

“Going digital does not suit every business. Consider the content that you’d like to share and how that content will add value to other people’s lives. Failing which, you’re just adding to the deluge of noise that exists in the ever-muddying waters of everyone trying to retrofit their business online,” says Lisa.

2. The Equipment

“Having a decent camera and understanding the basics of lighting and editing can certainly help the production factors that add to the online experience of the consumer. Clever gadgets like a gimble and a ring LED make for great looking videos and if you add a lapel mic to the mix, the sound quality won’t distract from the message you are trying to convey”. The less the consumer has to adapt to in your video message, the easier it is to understand and process what they are watching.

3. The Content

“Know your audience and what will appeal. Have a plan in place in terms of what you will share, when and with whom. Placing content online without an understanding of who the customer is, will be ineffective”. Each piece, be it writing or video, needs to fit into a wholistic set of content parameters and hold a golden thread that loosely links the themes or ideas together. “At the same time though, each nugget needs to be able to stand alone in order to be consumed in isolation too”.

4. The Customer Journey

Entrepreneurs often forget that this is a brand-new experience for their business.  “Your existing customers may not result in immediate income generation. There is still a customer journey that you need to take them on, which involves marketing your new product that is delivered in a new channel to them gradually. Get your customer to know, like, trust and try your new digital ideas out first before you ask them to spend money on your online offering” Lisa concludes.