Harika Kochhar is a marketing, SaaS and technical content consultant
The unprecedented situation of the COVID-19 has shaken everyone. The rate at which the COVID cases are rising each day is agonizing.
Right from the common people to industry giants, everyone is gearing up to revive from this pandemic. But startups are the worst hit.
According to financial express, 70% of the businesses are at stake, and 40% have already shut down.
Thus, it can be a challenging time for startup owners to deal with this major setback. But with the right strategies in hand, you'll soar high and take your startup to new heights.
Having said that, I have come up with 6 actionable strategies that first-time entrepreneurs like you can implement to kick start your business. These strategies will give you an edge over your competitors since most of them would be thinking about the 'how' part when you have already started implementing them.
The coronavirus pandemic has radically shifted the mindset of people. People are doing everything online — from shopping to conducting meetings and from doing transactions to watching movies. Hence, it is the right time for you to move your business operations online and start working from home.
To ensure that you and your team are comfortable working from home, use team chat software like Microsoft teams, Skype, Slack to discuss and collaborate on the ongoing projects. Besides, use project and workflow management software like Kriya, Asana, and Trello to assign and manage deliverables to your teammates. You can also set up virtual events and meetings to keep a check on your staff's mental health.
In the post COVID world, people would still struggle to come out of the economic slowdown. They would like to spend on essential things and work with people who add value to their lives. Hence, make sure you explain the USP of your product/service and give your clients a memorable and hassle-free experience.
It goes without saying that a startup is bound to scale up. Scalability focuses on the capability and capacity of the business. And to scale your business, you need a good roadmap that will lead your startup to success even after the pandemic. You don't want to have issues in the growth years like insufficient staff, manufacturing or delivering capacity, etc. Thus, you need to plan every activity beforehand.
But how would you do that? Break your project into several tasks based on the priority. Take the highest priority one's first and assign a time frame to it. Document your to-dos and share it with your team to ensure that everyone's on the same page.
Startups do not generally die out of ideas. They die because of the lack of funds. To ensure that you don't meet the same fate, make a strategic plan to conserve the cash and take action as early as possible. Assess all the expenditures of your company. Check if you can cut down on them for a few months.
You can also automate all the administrative tasks like raising tickets, sourcing candidates for hiring, planning and assigning tasks, and so on. This way, you'll be saving cash that could be used on the company's other core activities. Over time, the shift from manual processes to automation will also lead to better management of other stakeholder relationships like the vendors, retailers, etc.
Source: McKinsey & Company
Even if the world is going through an economic slowdown, there will always be ample opportunities. Find the right one and capitalize on it. Think out of the box ideas to serve your customers during and after the pandemic.
Cut down on your prices, club two or three of your services and offer as a bundle. You can also provide some services for free if you have the capacity. Along with that, encourage your employees to learn new skills and double down their efforts to take the company to a new tangent.
Since most of your competitors would be figuring out what should be done, you'll get a competitive edge if you start early. The key to surviving the pandemic and coming out strong is to hone new skills, looking out for the right opportunities, and adapt to the new normal.
According to Statista, the number of people using smartphones would grow to a whopping 3.8 million by 2021.
Thus, in the given scenario, having a website and app is more crucial than ever. People have come to know that coronavirus will stay with us, and we need to learn to live with it. Hence, people would not prefer to go out, whether for shopping, watching movies, or meeting friends.
Having said that, if you're not having a website and mobile app for your business, now is the time to do it. It portrays that you're serious about your brand and gives you an upper hand over your competitors who might want to start their operations only when the situation is in their favor.
Every day, we see a couple of new brands entering the market. And with every new brand, the competition only gets fiercer. To stay ahead of the game, startups need to be innovative with their marketing strategies. They need to delve deeper into understanding their buyer personas and finding out of the box ways to cater to them.
Some uncommon strategies you can use are:
These tactics will help you showcase your skills and network with people in your industry. It will also increase your brand's visibility and assist you in getting qualified leads.
Along with incorporating out of the box marketing strategies, level up your content game. In the post-pandemic era, people would consume more and more content. Hence, as a first-time entrepreneur, you must diversify your content strategy and do a mixture of blog posts, videos, eBooks, and podcasts to engage your customers.
Even during the global recession of 2008, startups suffered a lot, but with time, everyone coped up with the loss strategically, and this holds water even in today's scenario.
As a first-time entrepreneur, you might be facing a tough time, but you need to have a never say die attitude and work fingers to the bone to overcome this unprecedented time. That said, implement the strategies enumerated above to sail through this phase. Always remember, this too shall pass!