As the owner of two businesses, I’m well-acquainted with the tension many business owners have felt during this pandemic. Each of us started our companies to meet a need and fulfill a passion. We wanted to use what we had to enhance our community and bring even more creativity and life into the world. Never did we expect we would be figuring out how to serve our communities in a climate as unexpected and restricted as this one.
COVID-19 is something new to our age; we can’t look to generations past to study their step-by-step guides to successfully operate a business in a global shutdown, and we certainly can’t watch a Skillshare video on how to completely recreate and implement a new business strategy overnight. No, we don’t have these resources, but what we do have is something unique in itself. Entrepreneurs are made up of a different kind of material. We are resilient, flexible, incredibly strong, and we can certainly endure high temperatures. At this point in our careers, we have been knocked down time and time again, and every time, we have gotten back on our feet stronger.
As I’ve walked through this season with other entrepreneurs, several questions keep surfacing that I feel a tug to address. How do we market well in this season? Are we being insensitive by trying to sell our services right now? How in the world do we continue running our businesses with confidence? These are hard questions, crippling even, yet so necessary to discuss. So, let’s take each other by the hand and work through them together.
How Should I Market?
Right now is probably the only time that your support won’t be reflected in your numbers, but don’t lose heart. The entire world’s attention is at your fingertips, which makes it the perfect time to tell your story and share what makes your company, products and services unique from the rest in your industry.
The stay-at-home order challenged us to discover distinctive and personal ways to connect with our Indie Coffee Roasters community. What we really wanted was to sit down and connect with everyone over coffee, so we used what was available to us and made it happen. We began hosting “Morning Coffee” on Instagram Live every weekday morning, where we invited our community to come hang out while our Director of Coffee demonstrated and explained different brewing methods. The chat feature allowed our audience to ask any questions they had about our company, the coffee industry, personal opinions, and so many other things we wouldn’t have otherwise shared. Morning Coffee provided a way for us to meet our people where they’re at and serve them with what they needed most – home brewing information, great coffee, and peace in knowing that their community is still in their corner.
Now is the time to make sure your community knows how much they mean to you, and that your primary focus is serving them with whatever they most need right now. So take advantage of Instagram, emails, online courses to help connect with your customers on a daily basis, and when things open up once again, you will realize how critical and influential this type of marketing was during this season.
Am I Being Insensitive?
In one form or another, this pandemic has impacted everyone, so it’s natural to ask whether selling our products and services are really what they need. But this question can’t be answered by a simple yes or no, because it all has to do with our motive – are you approaching your clients simply asking how you can help, and how you can provide something that will make this season better, kinder, easier for them? Are you using your social media engagement and client meetings as an opportunity to meet your people where they are and serve them with what they really need?
At JTC, the value we give in this season is helping our clients strengthen their marketing collateral, websites and visual identities so as to stand out from among the sea of other companies in their industries, which helps them to weather the storms of this season. If we were to shy away from offering our services and reaching out to prospects, we would be denying the very reason why we exist in the first place – to help others stand out and succeed. Now more than ever, people need our services available and ready to go to work for them.
How Do I Continue Running My Business With Confidence?
Now is not the time to be the hype leader, but the servant leader. Being confident in the mission and “why” behind your business is key to the overall success of your business, and when you take advantage of any and every single opportunity available to share that story and invite others into your mission, you will surely gain confidence not just in yourself, but in your supportive community as well.
I do want to mention that by the same token, confidence doesn’t mean you can’t share in the confusion, frustration and nervousness that others are also experiencing. You don’t have to be the one smiling all the time, promising everything will be fine, in order to demonstrate confidence; your vulnerability and authenticity will communicate so much more about the foundation and values of your company. So if we’re going to strive towards becoming better servant leaders, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to listen. Listen to your employees. Listen to your community. Listen to their unmet needs and honest desires, and brainstorm ways in which your team and company can mitigate some of those for the sake of the whole.
Hang In There, Friend
The life of an entrepreneur is known for being unpredictable, yet is characterized by power and strength. . . We learn that the road is never linear, and at the same time, we become aware of our ability to achieve greatness and persevere. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, collaborate with your team and share your story proudly to the world. The power is hidden here.