· By Lauren Morton
#ThinkSmall: Getting your small business online amidst COVID-19
It seems that things are not only changing by the hour, but the minute, amidst the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia. One thing that’s increasingly certain though is that our way of life as we knew it is now altered. For how long? Who’s to say. But even if the restrictions and recommendations around social distancing and self-isolation are only in place for a few weeks, that’s enough time to put a financial strain on anyone, particularly small business owners and the self-employed.
Now, I don’t want this post to be causing undue stress or concern – there’s enough of that in the ether already. Rather, I want this post to be a call to arms for all small businesses to be thinking outside the box. Right now, we’re in the bloody thick of it (especially our sole traders and ‘non-essential’ services… whatever that means!), so the thought of having to convert your offering to an online service probably seems overwhelm level EXTREME. So, I’m going to try and break it down into bite sized tips to hopefully help make the process a little bit easier, if this is something you have to do to just stay afloat.
Ask yourself these questions…
1) Are you a service-based business that could offer consultations online?
Perhaps you’re a hairdresser or a health practitioner who’s only met with clients face to face. Think about jumping online via ZOOM with your clients to have these discussions. Take this a step further and think if you provide a service that could be offered as a course of information shared by sequential videos.
2) Are you a service-based business that also has products or stock in store?
If you are soon unable to perform your face to face services, but also offer a number of limited products in store, think about the ways you can distribute these products online. Think about creating ‘packs’ of your product essentials and sell them via your social media or website.
3) Are you a restaurant/cafe that is now being restricted to Take Away?
Obviously, having your in-house offering reduced to take away is in no way ideal – but at least this is still an option for you at this stage. There are a lot of services/apps out there to make getting your menu online for takeaway very easy. Look into MenuLog, Hungry Hungry and Quick Order to name a few. Be sure to make the most of your social media to communicate any changes to your offering. As this situation is changing so frequently, consider uploading an Insta story on the changes and saving it as a highlight on your feed to keep everyone up to speed.
PS – It’s important to also think about the ‘after’ for your restaurant or cafe. Get gift vouchers online so that people can buy now and visit later when this changes. Gift up is a great resource.
4) Have you been selling products in store but DO NOT have an e-commerce solution?
There really is no time to delay – if you have a in-person retail offering and are not yet selling those products online – you need to be doing so. No ifs and buts about it. You could very well not have visitors come to your store for many weeks, so to avoid stock collecting dust, get it online for sale. My recommended e-commerce platform solution would be Shopify, and in their effort to help during this situation, they’re offering a 90 day free trial (extended from their usual 14 days).
Obviously, none of this is an ideal solution for anyone – but at least it’s a way to try and get whatever revenue we can from a crap situation.
As always, I’m here to help – so if you have any questions about the above – or need help in getting your business online, send me an email!