Business continuity has become more important than ever before, but improvising can lead to disaster. You need a step-by-step approach that produces meaningful results.
Like most businesses, yours is probably feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s truly frustrating to see all the hard work you put into your business fade away. What’s even more frustrating is how seemingly little you can do about it.
But there may be something you can do to help yourself more than you think.
And in order to do that, you must first identify what problems you need to focus on. That’s because you can only apply the most appropriate strategies when you are clear about what needs to be addressed.
It’s a fact that most businesses in the industry, maybe including yours, are hurting in three distinct areas:
- Your clients are going out of business and there’s little you can do to help them.
- You’re still focusing on long-term outcomes.
- And, you’re not catering to your client’s current needs.
These three areas are what you need to pay attention to if you want continuity in your business at this time.
And this article will help you create a strategy to address each of those areas. You need to focus on three critical actions, starting with protecting your business.
Action #1 – Protect
Before you can proceed with implementing a strategy, you need to make sure you’re protected.
Protecting yourself takes many forms. And it starts with looking after your health, first and foremost.
But, rather than listing all the things you need to do to protect yourself, it’s more useful to have a strategy to fit it all together. That strategy involves using a “time map.”
Creating a Time Map
A time map is an amazing tool that can help keep you productive and motivated.
Think of it as a complement to your calendar or daily planner.
This map essentially focuses on how you spend your time, rather than what you need to do. And you’ll benefit from distinctly segmenting your time this way – more so than under normal circumstances.
That’s because dividing up your time will help both you and your team to better visualise where you will be and what you’ll be doing during the day.
You can use any spreadsheet to make a rudimentary time map. If you want to take it one step further, you can use Canva or even purpose-built software to create your time maps.
The key to a time map, though, is discipline. If you don’t adhere to how your time is allotted, there’s little point in doing so in the first place.
So, don’t spend too much time creating the perfect time map. Make a simple time map that encompasses the overriding things you need to do. Then, you can modify the time map over the next week or so to make sure it’s actually manageable and sustainable.
In addition to the time map, you should work on creating standard operating procedures for any eventuality. That will let you operationalise actions quickly when your clients need something.
Next, you should think about how you can protect your clients.
Develop Your SOS Calls
An important tool that we use is SOS calls.
In short, you want to be there for your clients. In an SOS call, you’re going to explain to your clients how you’ll continue to work with them and for them.
Set up an avenue for your clients to follow up with you. You can use Loom, WhatsApp, or any number of applications to make sure you stay connected with your clients.
Use one-on-one conversations to define your clients’ pains. Then, you can raise those pains in the community and help everyone in a group environment.
Your ultimate goal is to set up a community. Your clients will see the community as an asset in times of crisis, rather than an expense.
Protect Your Team
Lastly, you need to think about protecting your team. That’s going to come down to getting everyone to work together.
Your team is probably feeling overwhelmed, as you are. Start by compiling a few projects that you want to complete. SOS calls can be the first project.
But if you don’t have an official team, tap into the people around you. Your family can be just as much of an asset in a crisis.
The aim is to have a set of projects outlined and to start delegating to your team. It’s important that your team sees a continuity in business and that they have a purpose within the business.
Next, you’ll want to think about how you can switch directions for your business in the short term.
Action #2 – Pivot
Unfortunately, the strategies and approaches that worked for you even just a few months ago are no longer viable.
You likely spent a lot of time cultivating some clients that have no real way to remain profitable. Businesses in the hospitality industry, for example, are going through an incredibly hard time.
The truly sad thing is there’s precious little you can do to help them. Even if you wanted to, you can’t create a demand for a service or product if that demand doesn’t exist.
Therefore, you need to reposition and think about branching into a new marketing niche.
Your current criteria for new clients are much different now than they were a few months ago. And it’s very simple.
At this point, you’re looking for digital clients who serve digital clients. That’s your marketing niche.
Digital clients with digital clients are essentially corona-proof.
Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll enter a new niche entirely. It means you’ll have to rebrand your business and yourself slightly.
You’ll find few clients these days that have a strong need for compliance accounting. That may be a little disheartening if you think of yourself as such.
Sadly, it’s not a viable way to market yourself right now.
Instead, you need to focus on advisory accounting. What so many businesses need right now is a business advisor who can show them how to continue running their business.
Of course, you can’t teach them strategies specific to their business. But, proper accounting is a key tool to save money in a time of crisis. So, your job is to create a new message. And that message is one aimed at clients who need business advisory.
Create Conversion Content
With that message in mind, you’re going to start creating conversion content.
You probably already worked on many blog posts and other free content to draw in clients. That’s all well and good, and you should keep doing it.
However, you have to focus your efforts on content that will convert prospects into clients. That can through be webinars, which are highly effective, or other kinds of content.
The purpose isn’t to overly promote your business, and you should avoid that. Instead, you want to create entertaining and valuable content that will make prospects see you as an asset.
Remember, the content needs to be about how you can help clients as a consultant/advisor, not as a traditional accountant. You’re trying to position yourself as a VITAL asset for your clients.
Once you’re clear about your message, you want to start thinking about how to continue making a profit.
Action #3 – Profit
There’s no reason your business should stop generating profit over the next three-to-six months.
First, you need to understand what works and what doesn’t when it comes to staying profitable.
Your instincts may be to say, “I need to cut down costs as much as possible.” But that is a common mistake that many business owners make.
Instead, you need to be thinking about how you can maximise the return on your investments.
An administrative assistant that does your bookkeeping may not seem essential to your business. However, the assistant probably costs less than delegating that task to one of your team members.
You’re not trying to cut down on everything. Instead, you’re trying to make the most of your spending.
And here’s a crucial thing you have to remember:
Things won’t stay this way forever. Eventually, you’ll have to think about how to go back into the normal swing of things.
If you contract too much now, you may find yourself struggling to get back up to speed when the time comes.
Stretch and Strengthen
What you want to do is stretch and strengthen. Stretch your investments as far as they will go and strengthen your business by maximizing your ROI.
With that in mind, you should work on a three-month plan.
Think about the profit you need to generate over the next three months. Then, outline exactly what you need to do to hit that target. How many people do you need to convert?
How many conversations do you need to have per day to make it happen?
This will help you refocus your content towards conversion. But things like vlogs and podcasts will not generate conversions.
You need to think more along the lines of one-day events and video sales letters. Content that converts clients is much more important to meet your profit goals.
Don’t cut down on your advertising budget. Reframe it into conversion content and make sure you deliver your new message effectively.
Stay Profitable by Remaining Valuable
It’s still possible for your accounting firm to thrive in a post-COVID world. That’s provided that you change tack. We’ve outlined above the three actions you have to do to get there.
Now, it’s time to put those actions into practice.
For your firm to survive, and eventually thrive, you must make some changes.
Become the firm that remains VITAL while all others become uncertain.
When you do, you will make it through these challenging times.
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