Small Business During COVID-19 : JM Online EP. 1

How can I keep my business profitable through COVID-19?

Chris, Ted, & Eric talk through examples and ideas for the small business owner to sustain their business through this unprecedented level of instability.

 

 

Show Notes:

Leopold Brothers Distillery, New Belgium Brewery and R+L Carriers partner to create and distribute hand sanitizer

Huckleberry Roasters closed their doors early with an emotional appeal to loyal Instagram followers, and then later reopened.

Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters sells competitors products online.

Overcommunicate – See the JM blog post about how to use your online profiles to communicate if you are open for business.

Philadelphia Chef recreates Restaurant Experience at Home – tableside facetime call

Do you know when to delegate?

Does it ever seem like you have a surplus of ideas, but a shortage of results? Maybe you have a well-formulated plan to improve your online exposure, but there is so much to learn to be able to do it yourself? Or maybe you have a plan that you can execute, but you don’t know how to track bottom-line results?

Ali Rowghani, a former executive at Twitter and Pixar, identifies how a CEO’s role changes over 3 phases of business growth. The first critical transition for a leader is moving from doer-in-chief to delegator-in-chief. Or put another way, maximizing your productivity doesn’t scale your business, building teams does.

“The first critical transition for a leader is moving from doer-in-chief to delegator-in-chief.”

But delegating is hard. You won’t have the same control over everything. It won’t be done your way – like it always has been. The quality of work won’t always meet your standards. You need to change from the person that can do it all, to the person that can teach your skills to your team.

Even if you aren’t a CEO, this lesson applies to you and your direct reports. We’ll talk about 2 leadership tiers and how each tier can delegate to a team.

But first, let’s talk about limits.

Know Your Limits 

Maximizing yourself doesn’t scale a business, it creates burnout.

You’re probably a high performer and the most productive person in the company. There’s a good chance that your talents and skills expand well beyond your job title. Isn’t that how you got to where you are? You’re a great doer-in-chief. 

When it comes to building your online presence, there are many platforms that will used in your marketing strategy. There are multiple channels to manage, audiences to engage with, metrics to track, and content to create for each. It also requires specialized knowledge that you likely will need to develop. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn it all. 

Developing teams scale businesses.

You have the vision, but the people around you have the time. Develop them. You will have fears about the speed and quality of work without you. Add value by casting vision and leading your team to work to your standards, faster.

Understanding your limits will give you the confidence to delegate.

Delegate

Maybe you’re a CEO wearing a bunch of hats or maybe you’re a marketing manager that has all the skills. Delegating looks different depending on what role you play in your company. Next we’ll talk about each of these roles and how each needs to give definition and set expectations.

Company Leadership – Owners, CEOs, CMOs 

Define Bottom Line Expectations 

Before you start spending money on marketing, take the time to clearly define what success means. It could be defined in terms of leads generated, deals closed, or visitors to your website. Success must come back to the broader company goals and revolve around your bottom line: Profit. Without defining success and having a system in place to measure it you’ll never know if your investment is worth it. 

Define Roles & Responsibilities 

Empower your team by delegating specific performance responsibilities. This gives team members an aim and a sense of ownership in the campaign. When you tell your team exactly what you want it gives them a shot at delivering for you. Don’t be vague. And ask them to repeat it back to you to ensure you’re all on the same page.

Know When to Outsource 

If you don’t have a marketing manager or a dedicated internal team, the fastest way to get up to speed is by hiring an agency. Agencies are diverse teams of experts who specialize in their field. Just like you, they’ve studied and developed their skills their whole lives, they have the staffing and industry-specific tools needed to get projects going full speed quickly. When your team doesn’t have the capacity and you need to get going fast, hire an agency.

The Marketing Manager 

If you are a marketing manager your decisions will look a lot different from the CEO. As the person directly responsible for the day-to-day operations of marketing your primary goal is to keep everyone focused on the plan and the key performance indicators. This creates a culture focused on results and gives team members something to use to measure the success of their efforts. 

Give Clear Instructions 

Make sure to provide detailed instructions for every task you delegate. “Manage the email list” is not clear delegation. Give details on what successful management looks like by clearly defining expectations and outcomes for the email list. Do your customers do different things based on industry? If so, create user personas so the email list can be tailored to each segment.

Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you need, but you can still set good boundaries and define what you do know. If you need your team to define something, tell them.

Set deadlines and ask for deadlines. Deadlines are the catalyst for getting things done. 

Use a System 

The most effective way to delegate in the digital age is by using project management tools. Nothing keeps projects organized and on task like a good project management platform. Try any of these: 

  • Trello – Create a workflow or delegate using color-coded cards and boards 
  • Basecamp – Great for uploading files and assigning tasks 
  • Slack – Great for messaging and likely integrates into your other management tools
  • Asana – Designed for managing complex projects with growing teams

Trust Your Team 

After you’ve delegated a task, let your team work in the weeds. Resist the temptation to be the doer-in-chief. They won’t solve problems as fast as you or in the same way as you. But you may be surprised to find innovative ideas rise up if you are patient. Let them get into the work and solve problems for you. 

Conclusion 

Whether you’re a CEO, owner, or marketing manager, scaling means you must transition from doer-in-chief to delegator-in-chief. Your time can’t scale. Discovering your limits will give you the confidence you need to make that transition.  Your new role as a business leader is to empower your staff to also make decisions within their area of expertise – and trust them to solve problems for you. 

Are You Open for Business? Let Your Customers Know

The invasion of COVID-19 into our lives has caused upheaval for so many and Omaha-based businesses are no exception. Between broken financials, new rules for physical storefronts, and determining what you can do for your employees, everything about your business probably feels something like a very blurry tornado.

Another factor to consider is your business’ local online presence. But this post will help you sort it out without having to spend hours Googling everything.

We’ll discuss in a few bullet points what you can do for each piece of your online presence, along with a link to the platform and relevant documentation.

Your Website:

  • Add a banner or other type of message that’s obvious but doesn’t disrupt the normal use of your site. Be as specific as possible. An example can be found here: https://www.mcallisterortho.com/
  • You could also create a site page specifically for COVID-19 related updates. (See related bullet point for Google My Business below)
  • If your site has eCommerce features and you’re not shipping anything at this time, disable the cart functionality.
  • If only some products (such as non-essentials) are not being shipped, disable those products or mark them as unavailable.
  • Do not pull down or disable your entire website. Even if it’s a short-term measure, that will negatively impact Google’s indexing and ranking of your site.
  • Further information from Google is available here: https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2020/03/how-to-pause-your-business-online-in.html

Google My Business:

  • Most locations now have the option to “Mark as Temporarily Closed.” If this is the case for your business, select that option right away.
  • If your business is open but the hours have changed, update the hours in the “Special Hours” section of your business information. It’s the same area where you would mark holiday closures.
  • Google has made available a post type called “COVID-19 Update.” Make a post right now describing clearly how customers can do business with you. Make additional update posts as warranted. No need to post frequently but if you have new information regarding the future of your business, don’t be afraid to share it! This is a way to communicate with existing and potential customers who are searching for information about your business.
  • If you have a page on your website for COVID-19 updates, you can post that URL in the business information of your Google My Business property.
  • If you’re a health professional and have started providing your services through video conferencing, or telemedicine, you may now have a field to post your site page with information about this service.
  • More information is available at this heavily-updated post: https://whitespark.ca/blog/keeping-gmb-accurate-during-covid19-pandemic/

For more on setting up and configuring Google My Business, click here.

Facebook Business Page:

  • Make a post right now describing clearly how your customers can do business with you. Pin the post so it appears at the top of your Facebook page feed.
  • If applicable, update your Page Info, including changed business hours. You have options to select “Open With Service Changes” or “Temporarily Closed.”
  • You can use digital gift cards with Facebook partners to allow customers to support your business now and help encourage foot-traffic when the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.
  • You could also use Facebook Live instead of canceling events or to stay in touch and continue delivering value to your customers.
  • For advanced users, the recorded Live video could later be edited into shorter videos and posted on Google My Business, Instagram, and other platforms your business might be active on.
  • For more information, you can read Facebook’s own suggestions at https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/resource

My number one recommendation is to make a checklist. It can be easy to get lost in the whirlwind of issues to cover or possibilities to take advantage of. Try to identify each category or platform to cover, prioritize it from most visible to least visible, and then work through that list at least once a week. If you can do that, you’ll be putting your business presence in a good position to rebound when the time comes.