10 Ways to Improve Your Business During Challenging Times


Jim Bentley

We often see all the negative associated with “troublesome times” and therefore don’t recognize the opportunities. I am not saying that things are not serious. We need to do the proper things to take care of ourselves and our families, and if we have a business, we also need to take care of any employees we have while doing our best to serve the customers that depend on us. This can be time consuming, not leaving us enough time to work on other things.

But sometimes we are given the chance to grow, expand, or improve our businesses while doing all of those things. It all depends on perspective. Here are ten ways you can take advantage of the current pandemic climate and “take that next step” with your business. Something you have wanted to do, but did not have the time for.

1- Keep your employees busy, even if you are closed or foot traffic is slow or even controlled by government order. Give as many hours to your employees as you can if they are looking for hours. Have a liberal leave policy as well but instead of having them do busy work:

-      Update and clean out old inventory, display material and other unnecessary items.

-      Rearrange the store or office

-      Do heavy cleaning

-     Hold classes (limited size) on products, customer service or other valuable topics.

2- Test drive an online sales and delivery program. It does not have to be a big start. Just getting the systems in place and working out the kinks. This can be especially useful if you have household products that people need during this time but cannot get out to get them.

3- Start an online “teaching time” for your customers. Once again you can do this slowly, working out the logistics and structure. This gives added exposure for your business and added value for your customers. Show everyone your expertise! Whether you are an investment broker, interior decorator or dog groomer, there are people who can watch, learn and grow from your knowledge.

4- Review or update your business’s strategic plan. Surveys show that less than 50% of businesses operate with a plan. A good strategic plan is one of the best ways to ensure consistent growth and success of a business. If you need help, now is a perfect time to use an online method to work with a business consultant and get it done.

5- Review or revise your marketing plan. The numbers are almost the same as strategic plans, as is the value. Once again take the time to do this or solicit help with someone you can work online with.

6- Work on your business systems. If you have incomplete systems, poor systems or are simply lacking systems then now is an ideal to time to work on them. How are your ordering processes, customer complaint processes or packing and shipping processes? Sometimes day-to-day operations keep us from updating things we know need improvement. With fewer interruptions, now may be a perfect time.

7- Connect with your clients. If you are a service-oriented business, this is an awesome time to build on your relationships. Depending on the size of your client base, you can write personal notes. If you have elderly clients, you can call and make sure they have everything they need. Get personal, even if you can’t get close. Social distancing does not mean cutting off communications. Most people will appreciate and need more connection. Showing, not pretending, you care will go a long way to building a lifelong client.

8- Start an online group or forum of similar businesses in your area, state or nationally. Use this forum to find out what other people are doing and share ideas. Take the best ideas and implement them while you have the time to do it.

9- Learn something new! There are many online programs offering short-term-courses to increase  your knowledge and credibility. Perhaps you have had your eyes on a specific skill or talent and did not have the time.

10– Read that business book or two that you have on your list but have not had the time to read… till now.

Focusing on even one of these ideas can position your business to surge forward when the world settles down. I am certain most businesses will feel the negative effects of this pandemic season. Our growth and survival might just depend on how wisely we use our time now.