It’s truly difficult to write about business these days. When most of the companies were publishing other pieces about remote work and how the pandemic will hit our economy, I was beating with thoughts in my head for days wondering, whether I should also approach this topic or not.
After all, I had my little content plan that I could implement sitting safely in my apartment, regardless of the world situation right? Well no, I couldn’t. Not when the reality is that our world for the next days will be entirely different, and most of the topics I wanted to tackle before the pandemic are now set aside.
The definitive sign for me that I should write this article is being part of the Entrepreneur Reddit community. In previous times, this was a cheerful and very inspiring place, where you could read AMAZING stories, about other people's businesses and learn from them how to run & establish yours. But now it's a place full of fear and doubts, where people don’t know how to find themselves and their businesses in the situation, that none of us were expecting. Stepping out from my software house bubble, where shifting to 100 % remote work within a day, while remaining a full business continuity was not an issue (as we did at Railwaymen almost a month ago) showed me, that for the most of the businesses, adapting to the current situation is not an easy thing to do. And I want to help them with that!
For starters - don’t lose your hope. As difficult the current situation is, it will pass - we just don’t know when yet. In the moments of doubt, you can visit this Reddit thread with a list of 29 successful online businesses that started during a recession. You will see there a bunch of great companies established in 2008 - 2009 like Airbnb or Bitly that survived, despite the rough situation on the market. We’ve also started our company in 2009, and look - we’re still here & growing :)
Because there is one great thing about the technology - you can develop it with limited funds at the very beginning and without leaving your home, which in the pandemic times is really REALLY important.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE
Unfortunately, as much as we wished the situation was different - the technology is not able to help with all of the dangerous things that the pandemic brings. So above everything else - stay safe. Wash your hands as often as you can, avoid crowded places and reach out to your elder ones, whether they need any help with doing their groceries. Only after you take care of yourself and your closest ones, you will be able to take good care of your business. Put your health and safety first, always.
9 Major Issues Caused by Pandemic That Technology Can Help You With
Below you will find 9 most common issues, that businesses struggle right now. The list is an effect of the research I’ve done on the previously mentioned Reddit Entrepreneur subreddit, dedicated to IT professionals Slack channels and questions, that I’ve seen repeating on my LinkedIn board. If you don’t see here a solution to your problem - please, let me know by writing it in the comment section OR e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
To make navigating through this piece easier for you, I’ve created the table of contents. Just choose the issue, that fits the most to YOUR case!
- I can’t meet my clients and sell them my product in person
- My marketing strategy is doomed, as people don’t see my billboards
- I own a restaurant but I had to close it
- My networking vanished as all events are canceled
- I am a teacher/tutor and I can’t visit my students
- All my employees work remotely - I don’t know how to organize that
- I need to make some cuts but I don’t know where
- My brick and mortar store is closed and I can’t sell my stuff
- I feel alone and socially detached
Issue #1 I can’t meet my clients and sell them my product in person
In this particular case, the current situation might be a good “kick” for you to go with the times and update your sales strategy. Especially, like a door to door sales don't have a good opinion as it used to have. In the previous times, it was associated with buying some luxury goods and now - with selling vacuums or kitchen robots, that no-one needs & you can buy much cheaper on the internet. Even in the situation, when your product was more B2B than B2C and you used to visit the company's headquarters to pitch it - you can still get as good results (or even better!) without physically meeting your client.
A good idea for you would be to move your sales online. Create a LinkedIn profile and start personal branding as an expert in your field. Start recording webinars using Zoom or one of the other popular video conference tools. Make Q&A sessions about your product and publish them online. Start cold-mailing your potential clients (most of them stay home - they have more time to read your messages now). The possibilities are endless, and think about the time & money you will save for traveling to your clients!
Issue #2 My marketing strategy is doomed, as people don’t see my billboards
Yeah, that’s true - you probably won’t get back the money that you have invested in your outdoor ads. And I’m sorry about that. But - you can make sure that this situation will never happen again! Just change your marketing strategy into a purely digital one. It’s not as difficult as you may think - and you can do it almost for free!
A simple website (building it in Wordpress is free, the only cost is a server + domain) and social media profiles will do the trick at the beginning :) Especially, as people understand that many of the businesses struggle now, and they unite on special social media groups to help them by buying their products.
Issue #3 I own a restaurant but I had to close it
This time is especially difficult for the restaurants - there is no doubt about it. The whole idea about eating out is, well, obviously - being OUTSIDE of your home. But we know how it is - we can’t right now. That’s why if you are a restaurant owner, and struggle to make your rent or keep all of the employees on board - food ordering & delivery is definitely something you should try.
At the very beginning - solutions like UberEats or Glovo might be ok for you. Especially if your restaurant brand is not that strong and you never did a delivery before. But simultaneously, you should think about it in a longer perspective, post epidemic as well. Because you don’t want to pay commissions to these services forever! That’s why the best solution here is to start a delivery system by yourself. At best - with your own custom app, exactly like the Shawarmer did.
If you are not ready for developing your own app yet - there is another interesting solution that might interest you. Thanks to POSbistro, you remain in full control over every process in your company (no big delivery corporations involved!) yet have access to a bunch of the functionalities that they offer.
Issue #4 My networking vanished as all events are canceled
Been there done that. We’ve prepared the whole marketing & communication strategy for this year's Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona yet, unfortunately, as one of the first, it was canceled. And we understand that like for us, being at events is a big part of your marketing & sales strategy. But fear not - you don’t have to entirely resign from it! Just change it a bit.
Now we want to share it with you!
Some of the conferences switched to online events, others - prepared for the possibility that anything like pandemic could occur in the future, by introducing digital passes to their shows. Yeah ok, so maybe I won’t miss the talks and interviews - but how can I meet new people and sell to them?! My answer is Slack channels. You would be surprised how many of them are there! Gathered around the specific industry, event or just similar hobbies. You can find perfect buyers for your products here, without leaving any event! Just do your research and you may discover a leads source, that you’ve never truly utilized.
Issue #5 I am a teacher/tutor and I can’t visit my students
So as you probably already know, there is no escape now from doing classes online. Especially, as in most of the cases - they could be conducted like that on a daily basis, not only in the pandemic times. I understand that you might be scared of that but - have you considered how many new possibilities that option gives you? If you are a teacher OR/AND a tutor now, you are not dependent on your location at all! You can teach Polish to an enthusiastic Japanese teenager or make a charades tournament on your shared screen with your german highschool class. How to set up your remote work with Zoom is explained here.
You also don’t have to use some ready solutions - especially, as most of them have their flaws, as they weren’t dedicated to online teaching. It’s better to build something on your own - that way, you can profit from your platform and build it exactly adjusted to your target audience's needs and their level of technological knowledge. Because don’t kid ourselves - most of the solutions available on the market are far too advanced for a 50 + year old teacher. Happens to be that we have experience with building educational platforms, as we’ve recently launched an online teaching platform for a GCC region that connects tutors with their students. And we made it mobile! Do you want to build something similar?
Issue #6 All my employees work remotely - I don’t know how to organize that
If all (or most) of your employees work remotely - you can consider yourself a lucky one. There are a bunch of professions like doctors, nurses or cashiers that don’t have that luxury so appreciate that. Yet - you still have an issue that needs to be solved. Here is what we could recommend!
Tools like Asana or Trello should become your best friends right now. as well, even though at first sight it might feel that it won’t fit your business. Maybe it won’t - but some elements like assigning tasks and measuring how long they take us may be helpful. Build an employee management system, that will help you to monitor their efforts and see how they’re doing working remotely. If it’s their first time, it may be demanding for them. Try not to be too harsh on them.
In the situation that some of your employees are on childcare or sick leave and they can’t work - be transparent, and communicate it to the rest of the team. It is more important now than ever, to nurture that spirit of being together in all of this. To not lose track over our employees' progress we've built an open-source tool called Evally. You can check it on our Github here and request something similar by dropping us an e-mail here: email@example.com
You don’t have to resign from your recruitment efforts as well. Make interviews with Skype, deliver the company computer to your new employee by package and conduct onboarding for him using a video call. Rumour says that now it might be a good moment to hire some really good talents, as they were, unfortunately, let go from their previous companies. Use that time!
Issue #7 I need to make some cuts but I don’t know where
Sometimes it is as it is - you have to make some changes in your business to survive. But how to decide which part of your business is least profitable and needs to be reduced? In this case, a good fintech app may be helpful.
- a comprehensive cost management software that will clearly tell you, which areas of your business are worth keeping and which have to be reorganized or dropped off. Yet we know that each business is different and already available on the market solutions might not be enough. And at the same time - you might not be ready to build some advanced custom app. Is there anything in-between? Sure there is - and it is called a Discovery Phase of your project, and it will help you to find some solution in between.
Just download the ebook below and fin outs more about this completely separate (it doesn't entitle you to move to the development part with us in any way) consulting service of ours now!
Issue #8 My brick and mortar store is closed and I can’t sell my stuff
Now is the best time for the traditional retail shops to invest in deliveries! We are scared to go to shops yet - we have to eat something. Especially as the biggest providers as Tesco24 have a long time waiting for the delivery, your smaller shop can advantage from that situation! Set a delivery system for your store and start selling your stuff online. It doesn’t have to be expensive - all you need is 1-2 drivers, simple online shop and management app to control it all. Simple as that! You can read more about
BUT if you want to be a little more creative - you can think about some dedicated app to showcase your products without the need, to actually visit your store. As an example, we can mention The purpose of the app is to sell premium home decor services to the business owner (famous in UK Kathryn M. Ireland) target audience. The only thing that limits you here is your imagination!
Issue #9 I feel alone and socially detached
Last but not least - we need to take care of our mental health during these difficult times as well. We feel isolated and deprived of most of the things, that brought us joy before. So it’s very understandable, that we might feel sad and hopeless - and just don’t have the strength to fight for our business properly. What can you do to help yourself in this situation?
Once again - software is trying to bring solutions to at least SOME of your problems right now. A dedicated web application has recently come to life, which purpose is to help you get through all of this with the help of meditation - you can find it here. But there is one thing, that this app won’t replace for us, and it’s social interaction. We need other people to feel good - especially, as before we were a real social animal. But can you imagine, that there are people, who feel that way on a daily basis?
Taking them into consideration, a new social app has been released lately! purpose is to integrate together people, that feel socially detached. People, that have an issue to find others in the same situation as they are in the “regular” social applications. We’re talking about seniors, people with disabilities or the ones having trouble with stable internet access. You will be also able to find their individuals, who struggle with the same issues as you do. People, who came here to support you - not to laugh you & get some likes as it sometimes happens on the internet. The app has just kick off so you should definitely give it a shot!
Regarding the issues listed in the article remember one thing - most of the business owners struggle with them right now. So you are definitely not alone in this! You can’t influence the pandemic effects or how long will it take BUT - you can make your business more immune to the consequences that it brings. Mostly with the technology, as it’s not affected with most of its outcomes, like not being physically at the offices, traveling bans or necessity, to not leave your house.
Some of the sectors have more limited funds than others to fight with the pandemic effects - that’s why we decided to join the Tech To The Rescue initiative. So, if you are an NGO, that got affected by the virus effects - we want to help you by uniting and sharing our expertise! This is the least we can do to make sure, that it all stops soon and will give us the world that we are all missing now.
And if you are not an NGO, or you don’t see here an issue that is currently troubling you, let us know about it. Together we can figure out the best solution for you.
Wishing you good luck and hopefully - this article issues will become much less troubling for your business very soon.