We're living in unprecedented times in light of the global health crisis, a situation that threatens the health and livelihoods of millions of people around the globe. As our daily habits change, small businesses face a real risk of riding out the economic storm, which is why mitigating risk and making changes to the way we do business is more important than ever before.
In this article, we'll address 10 actions you can take to crisis-proof your business. No matter your industry, revenue model, the size of your team or your client base—there is an opportunity to adjust to the changing times and continue building the business of your dreams.
Jump ahead or dive right in:
1. Create multiple income streams
2. Create a low-price offer with an eBook or on-demand course
3. Create different pricing tiers
4. Make your business model more flexible
5. Become your own boss
6. Can’t deliver on a product or event?— Get creative
7. Own and build your own email list
8. Over-index on building a brand
9. Offer gift cards
10. Shift your sales strategy to online
1 - Create multiple income streams
You know the old adage: “Make sure your eggs aren’t all in one basket”? Well, it’s true. Creating multiple income streams diversifies your risk and makes you more resistant to economic disruptors. No matter what industry you're in, revenue model, size of team… There are always opportunities to diversify and crisis-proof.
One lever may go off, but if you still have another one on, you are making yourself more impervious to an external crisis. Some ideas on diversifying your “eggs” include:
- Starting an online course to digitize your offerings on your website.
- Participating in the gig economy. Who says you have to stay within the industry to create multiple income streams? Drive for Uber or become a personal shopper on Doordash, for example.
- Have a secret talent? Teach it online! There are multiple teaching platforms like Teachable.com, Skillshare.com, and Udemy.com are just a few of many examples. (And with these teaching platforms, you may be able to plug your website at the end of the course, to make it rain leads.)
- Could you combine your blog posts into one, giant downloadable resource? Think about ways you can package your content to make it gated and paid… Or start fresh and create a brand-new eBook on the “Ultimate Guide to [Your Industry/Business]”
Your side-hustles shouldn’t be more stressful than your main bread and butter. Whatever route you choose, follow these guidelines from Doughroller.com:
Make sure it’s flexible: Sources of extra income should allow you to call the shots. You shouldn’t feel tied down by the side-gig, so make sure it’s on your terms.
Make sure it’s scalable: Consider diversifying income sources that can generate substantial amounts of income.
Make sure it’s sustainable: If you can sustain the extra source of income by putting minimal effort in, you’ve found the right gig. Make sure your sources of income can coexist together in the long-run.
Make sure it’s enjoyable: If your other source of income is sucking your energy dry, you may want to ditch it.
Make sure it’s inexpensive: Make sure the up-start cost is low for your extra side gigs. If you have to pay in a large lump sum or incur sizable fixed costs (especially recurring), avoid it.
2 - Create a low-price offer with an eBook or on-demand course
With everyone in quarantine, they have time to read. So, think about cutting a deal with your existing eBook or online course! Offer this through an email automation to new leads after they join your email list as a way to recover some of your initial advertising spend. Want more guidance on how to do this? Learn more about the said “freedom funnel”.
Capitalize on people’s now-increased share of mind and potentially longer attention span by giving away (or heavily discounting) a course (for a limited time) as a way to invite people to consider your product or service.
Bonus tip: Is your eBook on Amazon yet? If not, use it as another lead channel. The process is simple… First, you need to upload it using their KDP platform. After doing that, you can price your eBook. But, be mindful of prices. You can earn 70%-of-retail royalty on all sales between the prices of $2.99 and $9.99. If your price is lower than $2.99 or higher than $9.99, you get only 35% of retail cost, says The Book Designer.
3 -Create different pricing tiers
One thing to consider when pricing your product or service as a small business owner is cost accessibility. Enter the following idea: pricing tiers. This allows potential customers to buy at a variety of levels and so you can rest assured you're never leaving money on the table.
If you have online products, in particular, read up on pricing strategies for digital products. This post hammers the following points:
- Giving away free products for a lead: You may not consider giving a product away for free as a part of your pricing strategy, but it’s an important piece. Giving someone a product (or lead magnet) in return for their email address is frequently used to start a sales funnel process that will build a rapport and ultimately encourage your potential customers to purchase your services.
- The ‘pay what you can’ pricing model: Here’s a novel idea—leave it in the customers’ hands about what they pay you. Rather than attaching a set price to an offering, you ask your customers to pay what they can to use your digital product. The idea here is that rather than focusing on one niche demographic, you’re able to get some business from various groups.
Graphic designer Cerries Mooney tried this strategy with one of her signature products, changing the price from $99 to pay what you can. This strategy earned her over $95 thousand in the past three years, with minimal advertising efforts. She was able to improve her conversions and showcase the value of her services, which made it easier for her customers to make a larger investment in her mentoring and design programs.
- The tiered pricing model: Another approach to covering various income levels, without the flexibility of a pay what you can strategy, is to offer tiered pricing. You’ll often see this strategy used in conjunction with free lead magnets, offering a basic service for free to communicate the value then charging for an upgrade.
With tiered pricing, you offer various pricing levels that cover different business needs and add more value as the price increases. In theory, this allows you to develop one core product that could work for a small business as well as a large enterprise. For example, a life coach could offer a monthly subscription to their personal development articles and exercises for other coaches to use. A higher tier might offer those things as well as a monthly call to help direct the customer’s business development strategy. All of this leads into purchasing a one-on-one mentoring service with the life coach.
For entrepreneurs offering professional services (such a coach or consultant), a general rule of thumb is that the higher you go up the pricing tiers, the more 1:1 access you get. Because time is your most valuable and finite resource, it makes sense that you would charge a premium for it.
4 - Make your business model more flexible
Whether you are a yoga instructor, psychologist, financial advisor or personal trainer, you can add value in the eyes of your customers by offering digital meet-ups.
Can't meet in person? No sweat. Go virtual. Schedule virtual coaching or consulting with the Leadpages Calendly widget.
5 - Become your own boss
A lot of these tips centered around the fact that you’re already a small business owner… But what if you aren’t already? If not, then become your own boss. Take one example from one of the users of Leadpages. This customer story discusses someone who lost their job and started their own business. Co-founder of ShoHawk Media, a production company and education hub, found their success after hardship.
But, not all businesses are one and the same. Think about businesses that would potentially be shielded from economic hardship: education and higher learning, tax services, or selling consumer staples, alcohol/”sin” items or discount retail items. Think about new consumption habits being formed, in light of a crisis. “Some strong possibilities include a leap from offline to online education, a transformation in health care delivery, and an increase in B2B digital channels,” notes Harvard Business Review.
Finding your niche in a potential recession can be tricky, but doable. Pair your passion for what the public needs. Think about not only commodities but services that will help people in a time of need. Then, start whipping up a website to showcase your assets and build leads.
6 - Can't deliver on a product or event?— Get creative
If you’re a business that hosts live events, meet-ups, sessions, or even concerts and has to cancel recent events, fear not. Pre-sell tickets to live events with a landing page.
People are rescheduling (sometimes indefinitely). If so, you can offer discounts to ticket buyers, OR sell registrations for an online event. Pre-sell tickets to live events with a landing page. People will likely buy, especially if you offer some sort of discount. So, for instance, if you’re working as a business operator of a concert venue, you could offer a 15% discount for concerts booked between a specific time period.
Supply chains are disrupted (or likely to become so)—so pivot the format to allow buyers to get on a waitlist when fulfillment picks up again!
So, for instance, if you’re working as a business operator of a concert venue, you could offer a 15% discount for concerts booked between a specific time period.
Here are more tips on going virtual, from Inside Higher Education:
- Exchange a printed program for an online program that you can update on the fly.
- Test the complete A/V setup and software at least a day before the virtual event.
- Plan for backup software as well as any crucial A/V components.
- Ask virtual presenters to not only test their A/V setup in advance but also to log in at least 15 minutes early to retest it.
- Give moderators extensive instructions, especially if coordinating in-person as well as online presenters.
- Recognize that online presentations are more sustainable than long-distance conference travel, but they may cost more to support.
- Record streamed events so that you can post them later.
- Circulate recommended hashtags, encourage presenters and attendees to share ongoing discussions widely, and broadcast news of the event.
7 - Own and build your own email list
Relying on any platform or third-party space (ie. Facebook or any other social media channel) to build an audience is asking for trouble. Anything changes in that third-party and you're (up a creek). Instead, focus on things you can control, like your leads list.
Collecting leads online typically involves growing your email list and segmenting your audience so you can proactively nurture your leads until they’re ready to buy. There are dozens of tactics to help you do just that, but we want you to focus only on the proven strategies that will deliver the biggest return for your effort.
Follow the mainstays of lead generation.
8 - Over-index on building a brand
Everything is becoming commoditized, the only true differentiators of the future will be a brand promise and customer experience.
So, get clear about what sets you apart and what competitive advantage you can own. Here are some ideas:
- Collaborate with others who serve the same audience
- Incorporate affiliate marketing into your messaging (part of multiple streams, but may warrant its own thing)
- Communicate with past clients for a special program
- Make sure your value is listed on every marketing channel: from social media to your own website or pop-up form!
9 - Offer gift cards
If you haven’t already started taking this step yet, do it! “Gift cards provide you with an immediate infusion of cash and guarantee that a customer will return to your business in the future,” says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “At restaurants, where margins are already notoriously thin, gift cards can help you stay afloat until the crisis passes.”
And, remember, it’s one thing to have gift cards, and another to make sure the public knows about them. Promote them wherever you can: social media, pop-up forms, email newsletters, and even printed collateral. Not all customers default to this, so they just need a simple prompt.
It’s also worth it to offer options for customers to have either a physical or e-gift card.
And, as you communicate your gift card offerings, let your audiences know the value the gift card will bring to your business… And that they are helping you out immensely.
10 - Shift your sales strategy to online
As storefronts shut their doors and workers stayed home, savvy business owners can shift their sales strategy online to shield their business from significant loss.
For example, as China is ahead of us in the curve of the Coronavirus pandemic, we can look to success stories to glean insights from. Case in point: the Chinese cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan closed 40% of its stores—but its 100+ beauty advisors went on digital platforms to engage customers virtually and increase online sales. “As a result, its sales in Wuhan achieved 200% growth compared to the prior year’s sales,” writes Harvard Business Review.
Need tips on how to get started? We got your back! Here are ways to jump-start a small business online.
Hold onto hope
The movement of people and goods, production, and confidence will always be in flux. So, use the crisis as an advantage. Think about ways you can adapt and grow as a small business owner in response to crisis, recovery, and post-recovery. So, rather than taking defensive moves, think positively and emerge stronger by boldly innovating.
Do you have additional tips on how to crisis-proof your business? Share them in the comments below!
Wondering what to read next?
Here's what we suggest:
→ 10 Ways to Grow Your Small Business
→ Permanent Pivot: How the Pandemic Forced These Three Businesses to Change—For the Better
→ How to Nail Your First Virtual Event for Your Business