We talk a lot about personal financial advice but the truth is that business and professional advice often factors into personal finance. Especially given that we’re in the middle of a pandemic that is dramatically hurting the economy and eviscerating small businesses around the country, it’s important to consider how freelance contractors, entrepreneurs, and small business owners can keep their financial houses in order during this unprecedented environment.
Maybe you’re trying to reset or put your business on pause until the economy reopens. Perhaps your business went under and you’re considering your next steps. Or maybe you want to persevere and open a new business.
Regardless of your situation, there are a few time-tested ways to get yourself back on track as a business owner weathering tough years.
Remain educated on your supply chains
The supply chain refers to raw material planning, purchasing, inbound logistics, and manufacturing. It is the strategic lifeblood of a company. Unfortunately, global supply chains in many different industries have been severely tested and damaged during the pandemic.
Without sound financial planning, production lead time management, risk assessment, and operational efficiency, your business will not survive long.
Look into demand forecasting, which includes both qualitative and quantitative analysis of your most critical business assets. This method allows you to effectively plan and streamline your activities by assessing emerging technologies and product lifecycles, as well as thoroughly understanding your own specific financial data like sales revenue and website analytics.
If this sounds complex, don’t get overwhelmed. Once you absorb your own numbers and data, you will learn to love it. But in the meantime, it’s important to start getting a handle on how supply chains can make or break a small business.
Don’t stretch yourself too thin
Many small business owners make the mistake of trying to diversify and expand too quickly. While having multiple revenue streams and market opportunities is a good thing, if you try to stretch your business into uncharted waters too quickly you might just sink.
Make sure you’ve mastered one product or service first and are generating consistent revenue and operational efficiency on it before moving on to others. And make sure you have thoroughly situated yourself in one market before trying to branch off and tap into others.
Customers these days have many, many options to choose from on just about everything – quantity, therefore, is less important than quality in this kind of business environment. Build a loyal following in one niche market before outspending yourself on moonshot ideas that haven’t been fully thought through and analyzed.
The time will come for diversification and expansion, but first you have to be smart.
Invest strongly in your online brand presence
These days, online activity is the most important part of growing a business. Ecommerce sales have transcended brick-and-mortar revenue and without a strong brand presence online, you will be completely covered up by the bigger companies.
The days when you could survive without a highly functional, user-friendly website and social media marketing are long over. Companies don’t last long without a robust brand presence and right now brands are built and maintained online.
Your best investments for this purpose will be: hiring a developer to build you an incredibly responsive, well-designed website; putting together a stellar social media team on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.; and outsourcing the assistance of a search engine optimization (SEO) agency to make sure you rank for certain keywords on search engine page results.
If this sounds like a lot, again, don’t stress. A single business owner can not do all this stuff alone. You have to assemble a team that can manage it so that you can focus on raising and streamlining your capital, loans, partnerships, investors, supply chain, and logistics.
However, you do need to be able to clearly articulate to your team what your brand stands for and who you’re trying to reach. This requires you doing your due diligence and research.
Running a business is one of the hardest things to do, especially during a pandemic and economic recession. But if you build strategically from the ground up and lay a solid foundation, you can flourish. And there’s no greater feeling than earning a living from your own business success.