What’s the first word that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘entrepreneur’?
It’s ok if you said ‘Risk-taking ability’ or something similar, but I’d prefer the word ‘Adaptability’. And I’m even more convinced since I read in a Harvard Business Review article that Adaptability is one of the 10 characteristics associated with Entrepreneurship.
The past two years were hard on all of us, and by the looks of it the coming season doesn’t look like Spring either. Plans to add team-members, make capital investments, explore paid promotional activities … all of them are being slowed down. Again.
In the face of all this, entrepreneurs have found novel ways to make sure their business — or dreams — aren’t destroyed. And the operative word here is ‘adaptability’.
There are many inspiring entrepreneurs who have been resilient, resourceful and adaptive. A few chose relatively obvious solutions. For instance, some restaurant owners stopped serving within premises but continued offering takeaways. This move let them cut some functional costs, like the power costs of a well-lit restaurant.
But not everyone had the luxury of obvious solutions. So they had to think of creative ways.
Here, we’ll summarize 5 ways that entrepreneurs and business owners have found to stay on top of things despite the various crises.
1. Fall back upon your previous experience.
While many entrepreneurs start their venture after some professional experience, it’s not unusual for people with no work experience to straight dive into a business. Which is fine, because all experience in life, whether inside the workplace or elsewhere, will come in handy.
It is during such times that entrepreneurs revisit everything they’ve learned, observed or experienced and see how they can be used to combat the pandemic.
Did you volunteer for a non-profit while at high school? Reach out to them and ask if you can join hands somehow. Were you a part-time barista while at college? Cool. Use that experience to speak to your prospects one-to-one. Edited a community magazine? Awesome. Use that experience to create a newsletter.
The point is to leverage your past experiences, connect the dots, and keep moving. No improvement is too small.
2. Find inexpensive methods for business growth.
The internet is full of advice on this and we’ll only stress these four points because they’re so important they’re worth repeating.
— Find co-marketing opportunities with non-competing businesses. Run a yoga studio? Look for someone who sells tees online. Work out some discount deals to benefit your mutual customers.
— Get onto email marketing. It’s inexpensive and brings amazing ROI when done right. Just to be sure you don’t have to face hard bounces due to invalid email addresses. For that, use an email verification platform to clean your email list. For small lists, they are mostly free, or need a very small payment.
— Ask for testimonials from existing customers. Video shoot the testimonials if possible and share them on your website, your physical store, your Insta account … wherever you think your prospects might see them. Social proof works wonders.
— Request referrals from your suppliers and customers. They are special because referrals come at a fraction of a cost and have higher conversion rates.
3. Explore alternate avenues of learning.
Obviously you haven’t experienced everything — no one has. So neither you nor anyone has all the right answers. The objective, of course, is to get more right answers than before and keep moving.
Some of the places where entrepreneurs have learned and got inspiration from includes:
— On-field observations: What did you see on the ground that can help you scale?
— Online Courses: There are hundreds of courses, many of them free, which you can take to learn something valuable about managing your business. What courses are you signing up for?
— Family and friends: All of us are in it together, but some of us are doing better than others. What can your family and friends teach you?
— Reading: Change your reading habits and look for stuff that will resonate with your business challenges. What are your takeaways?
4. Focus on processes and documentation.
Documentation and establishing processes sometimes sound boring, red-tape kind of stuff but they serve as great templates for the future. This will save you lots of time and money, which is why smart entrepreneurs pay a lot of attention to processes.
Let’s say you are a meal prep with the need to grow by offering a delivery service to a handful of clients. A design company calls you over to discuss serving lunch to their small team. What’s the first thing you’d do?
You want to figure out how you should open the conversation. If you have documented your earlier conversations with clients you won (and lost), you’ll have a pretty clear idea what works (and what doesn’t). For instance, is delivery time more critical than a wider range of menu for such businesses? Or will such businesses be more interested in free-range chicken than the pricing?
Learning is a major challenge for small businesses, and documentation and processes can go a long way in making such challenges a great deal less formidable and your business operation more efficient.
5. Think of new ways to adapt.
The good news is that small businesses find it incredibly easier to adapt and change. A big organization may require endless meetings, lots of documentation, tons of surveys, compliance approvals and stuff before they can do some correction.
On the other hand, a very small business can carry out changes almost instantly: just call an all-hands meeting, announce, explain and change. As simple as that.
Running an online meeting, for instance, may sound easy to us today. Yet that was itself a task, something that took a bit of learning only a couple years back. Packing and dispatching a product that customers had paid for online wasn’t the cup of tea for all businesses — and yet today many of them are doing it like they’ve been doing it since ages.
Making things happen…
The whole idea behind being an entrepreneur is about making things happen. Through the good times, through the bad times.
It’s obvious the above doesn’t cover everything that you, as an entrepreneur, need to do. Yet, these ideas should serve as great starting points to pivot your energy, resources, and business toward a direction where you not only survive but also excel and prosper by serving more clients more profitably.
Meet Our Contributing Author — Mayank Batavia
Mayank Batavia is Head, Marketing and Partnerships, at Quick Email Verification. In addition to the wonderful world of email marketing, Mayank loves Math puzzles and is trying to get ahead in Wordle. He thinks pears and mangoes are the best things that ever happened and cannot say no to a cup of coffee. Explore email marketing with Mayank here.