While it’s true that the provincial and federal governments are stepping up to help those in need by offering some generous relief funding, we all know that it isn’t going to cover much. Everyone is going to feel the financial effects of COVID-19 for weeks and months ahead. For the small business owner, it can be a real concern trying to figure out how to pay the bills when you’ve been asked to close your doors indefinitely. Now is not the time to sit on your hands and panic. It’s the time to get creative and build new capabilities into your business.
Many of us are stuck in our old school ways, and why not, it’s worked so far. But has it? Have we been missing out on opportunities by being complacent in our ability to adapt? The lockdown being mandated to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is just forcing us to look at our business in new ways. Those that sit back and wait for this to end will fall behind those that look at this as a new opportunity. We need to look at our business through a new lens and figure out a new way to deliver our services.
We know that we can’t do anything about social distancing and people must be able to work from home. We also know the same constraints apply to the consumer so how can we overcome these challenges? Technology is likely going to play a big factor and budget constraints are clearly top of mind for everyone. Here are some cheap ideas and consideration that might help you think about new ways of delivering your services and building new capabilities into your business that you can leverage beyond COVID-19.
Work from Anywhere – This is almost an expectation of the modern workforce. Certainly, it is for those jobs that don’t require you to be physically present to perform your duties. There are several solutions that are available for free on small scale or have extended trials available to accommodate remote workers during the current lockdown. This is a capability that should be part of any business and if nothing else should be something that you’ve invested in to help you through the current crisis and will benefit from after this is all over. Look into simple and secure solutions like TeamViewer, RemotePC or ConnectWise to get connected right away.
Collaboration Tools – Online collaboration tools are not meant to replace face to face meetings, they supplement them. Video conferences are the next best thing when people can’t get together in the same room. Solutions like Teams, Hangouts, Zoom, Slack, and Webex are meant to solve specific problems like time, distance and communications. You no longer need to find a time in everyone’s calendar where they are free, in the office and you have a room available. Using a video collaboration tool lets you start a meeting on short notice, add users on the fly and they can join from anywhere on any device. Most of these tools also include virtual meeting rooms and chat so you can continue to collaborate well after the meeting has ended.
File Sharing – SharePoint Online or Google Drives are a good way share information. These tools also allow multiple people to collaborate on the same doc at the same time. This is a great way to share ideas and collaborate on group presentations. The best part of this is you can always maintain access controls over your information. People still email around documents to multiple people and then have the onerous task of trying to merge them together in the end. As well, once you send your document via email, you lose control over who can see it or share it. Keep it in your SharePoint or Google Drives and only allow people access that need access. You’ll love this once you get the hang of it.
Modernized Website – Your website is your virtual access to your business. There are some simple solutions that add functionality to your website that can dramatically improve your online customer experience. What are the common things that people walk into your business for and I bet you can replicate most of it online? I remember when realtors thought that open houses and scheduled walk-throughs were the only way to sell a house. Now people can do virtual walk-throughs from the comfort of their own home and get most of the experience of the open house and its far more efficient. Get creative and talk to the experts at SVICE and Shopify to convert your old website into your new online store front.
I do not endorse any of these products and there are many more that I didn’t mention. The point of this blog is to emphasize that now is the time to look and ways to modernize your business and leverage technology to deliver your services in new ways. If you do this now, you will create new business capabilities that will help you through the difficult times and they will propel you past your competition once things get back to “normal”.
Please don’t forget that any time you introduce new technology you introduce new risks so stay on top of your cybersecurity program to safely and securely adopt these new technologies.
When life hits you with a basket full of lemons, you might as well start making some lemonade!… or something like that! 🙂
Dream Technology Solutions