The film The Matrix introduced us to a reality we could have never imagined and in 2020, COVID-19 did the same. Here entrepreneur and business leader, Melanie Power discusses the advice she’s sharing with her global community of accounting professionals and small business owners on how best to navigate this new digitally-driven reality.
Who like me, has had their fill of ‘unprecedented times’ and ‘pivots’? And yet it does seem in many ways the best description of our daily experience.
The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses has been huge and when independent businesses make up a huge chunk of the economy, in both Australia and New Zealand, the cumulative impact is even bigger.
During these last few months I have worked very closely with accounting professionals globally and also from my own local community to navigate this unwanted reality and understand more about the numerous challenges they’re facing.
In particular, many – who are often small businesses themselves – are struggling with the challenge of having to move their businesses online for the first time. It’s a whole new world for some.
What struck me was the sheer scale of change small businesses are now confronting. For many, going through COVID-19 has been like seeing The Matrix for the first time. For those who have not seen the dystopian film, Morpheus explains to Neo that many people just aren’t ready to see the Matrix – a reality so vastly different from the one they’re accustomed to and comfortable with.
I know this because I went through the same thing years ago when I made the shift online. Through perseverance, trial and error, I’ve been fortunate enough to grow my business using purely unpaid strategies – no paid advertising at all – to serve 120 clients and am now able to command the value I deserve. I now have a multi-million dollar business educating and coaching accountants and bookkeeping professionals to command the price they deserve too.
If you’re a small business feeling the same, here are a few things I learnt along the way:
- Be clear about what you stand for
Pivoting your business online can be a cost-effective way of attracting new clients and keeping existing customers up to date. Clients want to know how you’re going to help them and may be overwhelmed if offered a bevy of services that baffle them – I see so many websites with a very broad range of services littered with industry jargon that often mean nothing to a small business owner.
Hone in on what you offer and add your personal lens. Be specific about who you are and what you stand for.
- Identify who you want to work with
Once you’ve identified what you stand for, it will be easier for you to clarify who you want to work with. No-one likes working with clients who don’t respect them or see little value in what they offer. Being clear about your target market will make it easier when attracting new clients online because you can more clearly craft and describe your offering in your marketing.
By trying to offer everything to everyone, you risk being too broad, wasting valuable time on clients that don’t suit your business, and spreading yourself too thin.
- Take a systematic approach to marketing
To generate new client leads you need to have a system and process in place – just like you would when servicing a client. Avoid being random and hoping that one networking event or one LinkedIn post will gain you business. There’s a good chance it won’t.
Marketing to your prospective clients takes time and with a process in place you’ll be able to take tips #1 and #2 and use them to create thoughtful and considered content that delivers you more clients you actually want to work with.
To recap, you can make it easier and faster to establish your value to current and prospective clients by:
- Knowing who you want to speak to
- How to get in front of them
- What to say
- Why you are saying it
In the meantime, it’s important not to forget the business basics that will keep your company on track as you grow. Cash flow is still king and tools like cloud solution will give you visibility to help you stay on track of your expenses and income so you can make informed financial decisions.
Making your move online a success means more than just a website. By applying this logic to the way you advertise and communicate online – while maintaining focus on your core financials in the background – you’ll save time, money and increase your chances of growing your business in these difficult times. Get started with the basics and the rest will follow.
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