Shit-show to shit-hot: your post-covid exit strategy

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This year certainly didn’t start off as we hoped, did it?

The Scottish Government has paid out over £3 billion in business support since the start of the covid pandemic but many entrepreneurs and one-person businesses have found themselves ineligible for these payments. 

Even if they have been eligible, it’s unlikely that the support compensates for the full impact on their revenue.

How has YOUR small business been affected by covid restrictions? I’m not photographing right now because of it, so I’m using the time to do ALL sorts of stuff. So can you.

There’s been a whole range of reactions to covid from small businesses, everything from some businesses being booming more than ever to some others sadly having to close their doors. 

But what about the people in the middle? There are many businesses which thankfully look like they’ll survive this whole shit-show, but have had to shut up shop for now some time. 

If you’re like me and can’t work right now but fully expect to survive - although maybe not unscathed - what do you do when you’re waiting to start business again?

Do you have a post-covid exit strategy? You know, for exiting lockdown and all these restrictions and getting yourself properly back out there? 

If not, you need to start thinking about this sooner rather than later, and take the opportunity of the current slowdown to lay the groundwork for coming back stronger than ever. 

There’s every chance that if you don't have a come back plan, your competitors do.

You have to address this. Yes, even if you’re homeschooling. Even if you have no time. Even if you’re fearful of the future and what this year will bring. Even if you just want to bury your head in the sand and hope it all goes away. (It won't.)

This downtime for those of us who provide a hands on service and thus are temporarily closed ... There’s an opportunity here.

If you can’t work with clients right now, and assuming you can’t or don’t want to put your business online, there’s plenty of foundational stuff you can concentrate on and improve. In fact, not just improve, but get into shit-hot nick. Better than before.

What to focus on in your slow time

1) Redefine your “why”

Now’s the time to get right back to the beginning, to rediscover or re-do your “why”.

See how this feeds into everything you do - if you’re a small service-based business where you’re the face, the heart, and the soul of your brand, your “why” really matters.

Make sure you’ve got this nailed down. 

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2) Re-evaluate your “who”

Has this changed?  Are you the same person as you were this time last year, and do you want to help the same kind of people?

The seismic events of the last ten months have shaken lots of folks to the core, and epiphanies are flying round thicker than midgies round my head on a summer evening. 

Have a careful think about the people you’ve been working with to date - do you like them? Or should you take this chance to bin them off and go for completely different people? 

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3) Re-examine your “what”

Have you got stuck in a rut doing the same old thing for years, offering the same old thing to the same old people year after year? 

Perhaps you’ve been offering the same things to the same people for a long time but you’re happy with it. In that case, happy days, proceed to Go and collect £200. (Before the government coffers dry up completely.) 

Even so, a little reflection wouldn’t go amiss. Are you SURE you don’t want to change things around a wee bit? Test some new things?

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4) Assess and overhaul your digital assets

Coronavirus has made the world even more digitalised, and it’s almost impossible to survive these days as a business without some form of online presence.

So developing a decent website and investing in digital marketing is paramount. 

With the closure - temporary or permanent - of so many bricks and mortar businesses, there’s been more shopping online than ever before. Internet usage has gone through the roof, and it’s highly likely this will stick.

Have a hard look at your website and all the rest of your online “footprint”.

When things become more normal again and you can work, what does your online presence say about you? Are you proud of it, or are you slightly embarrassed and secretly hoping nobody actually FINDS your website? 

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5) Assess and overhaul your digital marketing

You need to up your digital marketing game so you keep up with everyone else once this is over. 

There are two main themes here: getting found in search and persuading the people who find you to pick YOU. 

Have a think about how you can improve these aspects of your marketing:

a) Local search

SEO isn’t something you can do quickly, so if you’ve not paid much attention to this previously, for goodness sake start now. Invest the time and effort now, and your organic search results will already be improved once we’re out of this.

Optimise for “near me” searches.

Are all the images on your website optimised for search? (Pop me a message and I’ll explain how to do it, if you don’t know!)

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b) Examine your analytics

Once you’ve taken honest stock of where you’re at now, your next step should be to examine your analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t, and plan corrective action. 

Have a look at what your competitors are doing … Have they been similarly affected by covid? If not, why not? What are they doing differently to you that works?

c) Social media marketing

More people than ever are turning to social channels as a way of connecting with others when they can’t physically be with them, so you’ve got a great opportunity to develop relationships with potential clients. 

Business relationships you build now will definitely help down the line so it really makes sense to invest time and effort into this immediately.  

Which platform is your target client using most? Get active on it now and start making connections. Start being friendly and start helping people.

Never mind the sales for now; just help people. This is a bit of a “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” kind of scenario. Concentrate on being helpful when people need it most. And be kind. Folks have long memories. 

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d) Your brand visuals

If everyone's online more than ever now, that means there's an even better chance than normal that they'll see you. So you simply have to make your digital presence as strong as it can be.

How are your visuals? Are they professional looking? Do you show your potential clients who you are, why you do it, your environment, what it’s like to work with you? Are your brand’s images all cohesive and do they convey the marketing messages you want them to?

Have you got a high quality, professional looking profile image? You know how important that is, right? I can help you with this.

I can also help lighten the load of constant posting by supplying you with up to 3 months’ worth of on-brand, unique photographs of you and your business which will increase your know, like, and trust factor in the eyes of potential clients.

Branding Photographer Edinburgh Simply Connect Collage

e) Content marketing

By producing a really solid - or an even more solid - bank of useful, engaging, content now, when people are more actively looking for your business online after lockdown, you’ll appear more of an authority on your subject. 

And if you’ve either had a brand shoot with me or are waiting to have one as soon as lockdown eases, you’ll have a bank of essential images to cover a whole load of content eventualities.

f) Campaigns

Get ahead of everyone else by identifying and planning them out now.  Granted, we don’t know for sure what will pan out this year with the virus. There could be more plot twists to come, but plan now for what you think the most likely case scenario is, and build in wiggle room in case you’re blown off course. 

g) Ads

Google and Faceook Ads are a bit cheaper at the moment because lots of people have stopped trading, or are sitting idle. So you’ve got an opportunity row for reduced competition in ads right now.

But for ads to bring in the best ROI, you need great copy and great visuals. The photographs must be eye-catching and high quality. (Get in touch with me, because I can help you with this.)

Brand Photographer Edinburgh

6) Improve your systems and processes

Lots of us get so busy with client work, as our business grows we fail to update and improve the basic systems and processes which keep everything going.

A regular review and overhaul is what to aim for, but if you’re quiet right now, this is a great opportunity to really go to town and get them in the best shape they possibly can be.

Then when you’re out there again, you’ll know your systems and processes are ticking away supporting you so you can focus on other things.

7) Learn new stuff 

You know all those online courses you’ve got stashed away safely for when you sometime magically get the time to do them? (Just me?) This could be your ideal time.

On the back of the previous points here, you might not have come up with much that needed updated or improved in your business, but there’s not a soul on earth who can’t benefit from learning new things.

If you have the chance now, take it, because you may never be able to prioritise learning so easily again. However, if you're home-schooling, this probably won't be as easy, I do realise that - because I'm doing it too.

8) Work on your mindset

You can have all the talent in the world and be one of the most skilled people ever at the thing you do, but if you don’t believe in yourself, you’re going to find it really hard to get to where you want to be. 

For most of us, the biggest battle we face in life is with ourselves, so if you can get out of your own way and be proactive, positive, motivated and hopeful (at the least the majority of the time!), then your chances of success are hugely higher.

Here are some books I got a lot out of and think will help:

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9) Get visible

You can have all the talent in the world and be one of the most skilled people ever at the thing you do … But if nobody knows you’re doing it, how can you possibly get anywhere? 

There are two elements to getting visible: mental and practical. The mental bit stems from mindset. Are you scared to be visible? Yes? You have to tackle your mindset. You simply have to.

If it’s a practical barrier, such as not actually KNOWING how to get yourself visible, then maybe it’s time to go back to point number 7: learn new stuff. 

I've got some great ideas for you here:

Having beautiful, professionally taken on-brand photographs of who you are and what your business offers people makes a massive difference to feeling confident about being visible. 

When you know your vision is properly represented in your photographs, and you know you look good, then that’s a huge step forward in putting yourself out there.

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When the world seems to be in flames out there at the moment (and I haven’t even mentioned Brexit!), concentrate hard on what YOU can control. 

Get yourself in the best position possible to get back out there with bells on. I know you can keep going and come out of this stronger than ever. I believe in you. You’ve got this far, haven’t you?

This year certainly didn’t start off as we hoped, did it?

The Scottish Government has paid out over £3 billion in business support since the start of the covid pandemic but many entrepreneurs and one-person businesses have found themselves ineligible for these payments. 

Even if they have been eligible, it’s unlikely that the support compensates for the full impact on their revenue.

Edinburgh branding photographer


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