If you’re an entrepreneur, you may be feeling like Wile E Coyote after he’s just run over the edge of the cliff, staring down the abyss with a sign that says “That’s all, Folks!” Your bank balance is telling you that you need to sell, sell, sell, but you don’t want to appear tone-deaf to your customers. The live events you’ve painstakingly planned or the trade shows you’ve been counting on are about as extinct as the dodo bird right now. How do you adjust?
Here’s what successful entrepreneurs are doing right now.
1. BE RELEVANT, NOT TONE-DEAF
Sales are on everyone’s minds, but pushing products or services right now carries the risk of appearing tone-deaf. Automated product launch emails written prior to the Coronavirus outbreak can leave the same taste in our customers’ mouths as a rotten hamburger patty covered in whipped cream. Not acknowledging what our customers are going through can be off-putting to people struggling to deal with impacts on their lives and businesses. But how do we generate sales while being in tune with our customers?
Some entrepreneurs have found creative solutions. Ramit Sethi, the author of The New York Times Bestseller I Will Teach You to Be Rich, is continuing the launch of a program that teaches people how to build an online business. But instead of emphasizing glamorous travel and other perks of a successful online business, he’s tailoring his message to what his customers need now. In an email to his community, Ramit said that the questions he’s receiving now are: “How do I create a second stream of income?” “What happens if I lose my job?” Or “What happens if I can’t go back to work for a long time?” He’s re-crafted his messaging and his product launch around those needs.
2. FOCUS ON WHAT’S IN YOUR CONTROL
Many entrepreneurs seem like they’ve been caught in a game of Freeze Dance – and nobody’s turned the music back on. But while they’ve been stuck in place, others are taking action that’s in their control – such as making their events virtual. Donald Miller, The New York Times Best Selling Author of Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, just announced that his popular live workshop is going to be virtual for the first time. Don’s message to his customers: “We want to meet you where you are in the midst of this crisis and help your business keep moving forward.”
3. BE A LEADER
In an environment reeking of fear and uncertainty, an optimistic message can be a breath of fresh air – and result in being perceived as a leader. On his popular Mr. Money Mustache blog, Pete Adeney reminds his readers about past scares such as the H1N1 epidemic in 2009, stating that in its wake, we’ve had “a global economy that is far richer than it has ever been… which is exactly what we will eventually be saying about the present moment in time, from our vantage point in the even more prosperous future.”
Many others are hosting online meditation sessions, reaching people through their podcasts, and sending messages of hope to their audiences. Marie Forleo, the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Everything is Figureoutable, has created an extensive resource page for her community of women entrepreneurs to help them thrive during this time – which includes humor and good news. Marie tweets, “A strong, healthy and calm YOU will have a powerful effect on those around you.”
4. KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE
Many great companies such as GE, Disney, HP and Microsoft were all started during steep declines in the US economy. Some businesses get washed out during challenging times while others innovate and thrive. Being small may be advantageous in some ways – speed, agility and lower overhead give small businesses an opportunity to disrupt established players who are caught flat-footed. Entrepreneurs can readily shift to serve the evolving needs of a client base that’s working remotely. Those who focus on delivering value, innovating and connecting with their customers in new ways will come out on top when the economy inevitably recovers.
We’ve been immersed in gloom-and-doom and fear messages everywhere – and it’s easy to get swept up emotionally. However, Covid19 won’t last forever – and the business owners who can adjust the fastest, be leaders and innovate will come out on top when the smoke clears and we can all breathe freely – and hug one another – again.