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4 Ways Small Businesses Can Recover from Economic Catastrophe

There’s something important that needs to be said.

Businesses have survived hard times before. And yours can be one of them.

There are things that small businesses have done in the past that you can replicate today to stay afloat—no matter how many challenges get thrown your way. The key here is to play offense with those challenges, not defense.

You see, the key to recovering once the dust has settled is to make sure that before it even has a chance to settle, you’re already on the move. The businesses who have bounced back after an economic catastrophe are the ones who didn’t wait for the dust—they took action during the storm.

Businesses survived the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession that followed it. For two years, they focused on playing offense so they could stay in the game.

And you can too.

Here’s what they did to ensure they’d be able to recover.

#1: Focus on building an audience today

You might not be able to sell a lot of products right now. Marketing agencies might see their clients decreasing their monthly ad budgets. If you’re an ecommerce store, you might be watching a steady decline of sales. But that doesn’t mean you need to stop promoting.

You just need to change your offer

For example, a marketing agency can create a PR package for new clients that need help with their marketing message amid COVID-19. Instead of asking for their regular 6+month contract, they’ll let clients sign on for 1–3 months.

An ecommerce company could offer discounts or buy one get one offers.

This is all aimed at doing one thing. Growing your audience.

It might not be the time to try to land your biggest contract of the year or to have the biggest ecommerce sales day yet. But, it is the time to figure out how you can grow your audience. Because there’s one thing you can be certain of, the economy will come back.

And when it recovers, you’ll be able to go for that huge contract or aim to hit your biggest ecommerce sales goals using the audience you’ve built. At DigitalMarketer, we inadvertently did this.

With no strings attached, or offensive play in the making, we offered our Lab membership for free for two weeks. We just wanted to do our part to help during the COVID crisis and didn’t think much would happen—we just wanted marketers stuck at home to be able to learn while they were there. Turns out, a lot of marketers took us up on our deal. 

We ended up with over 30,000 new subscribers and a huge new audience that we can now show our offers to once the timing is right. We didn’t mean for things to end this way but it’s proof that people are receptive to new offers right now. 

Don’t focus on the money, focus on the audience.

That’s how you bounce back.

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#2: Look for strategic partnerships

Part of building a new audience is to take a look at your industry and figure out who you can collaborate with. The current state of the world has changed a lot—and some of that change has to do with who you can do business with.

For example, you might have taken part in a few Instagram Live workouts while being at home. How many of these did you see 3 months ago?

Yeah, we didn’t see any either. Instagram influencers and trainers are jumping onto these at-home workouts to keep their audience engaged with their content. The influencers need content and the trainers need new people to take their virtual classes since their in-person sessions have been cancelled. 

You can even take this further and look past collaboration and towards acquisition. There are some business owners who feel the heat right now and they want to get out of the kitchen. They might have already pulled their business through the last economic turn or they might be realizing they’re just not interested in the constant pivots and challenges that come with this type of economy.

Guess who can take over? Yep, that’s right… you. If you’re interested.

#3: Communicate, communicate, communicate

Should we say it again?

Your business needs to have crystal clear communication right now, ESPECIALLY if your team is distributed for the first time. Here’s who needs to hear from you:

Your teamYour customersYour community (if you’re a local business)Your mom (you can tell her for the fourth time today that you’re doing fine)

Small businesses that recovered from the last financial crisis did so by keeping their team in line with their current goals. Maybe those goals changed 3 times in the last two weeks—but as long as those goals were communicated to their team, they were able to work towards them.

They then relayed the necessary information to their customers, letting them know about new products, offers, discounts, content, or anything else that would be useful to them right now. For local businesses, they kept in touch with their community, working to support first responders or provide meals to those in need (if possible).

Then, they called their mom to assure her that they were alright.

HINT: Right now, people are holding their money close. Giving away free or discounted products is one of the best ways to show your audience that you see what they’re going through and you want to help them out.

#4: Stay out of your head

None of the above means anything if you get too far into your head about what is going on and how you’re going to survive it. Sure, this is certainly a stressful situation, but that doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way.

You’re playing offense right now. It’s your job to see the opportunities and take them—not to run the opposite direction.

We’ve seen it in the tech world time and time again, small companies are able to innovate faster than larger companies because they can pivot FAST.

Right now, the name of the game is pivot, and you’re holding the ball. You need to get to the end zone, and you have to avoid all of the challenges that come your way. The only way you’re going to do that is to stay out of your head and think like an innovative, small business that CAN pivot at a moment’s notice.

Staying flexible is going to be a huge determiner of your ability to survive this crisis and bounce back later. Because right now, you need to change your offers, but soon you’ll need to change them again to fit the new state of the economy.

It will be a state nobody knows (and it’s close to impossible to predict), but we can be certain is on its way.

So, you can predict that you’ll need to pivot your offer and prepare for it—NOW—so you can bounce back faster than the competition.

Because you’re a legend 😉.

Say it with us,

“Businesses have survived hard times before. And mine can be one of them.”

An economic crisis doesn’t mean goodbye to all of your hard work. There are hundreds of thousands of businesses that recovered from the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession after it. This is what they did to stay in the game and bounce back when the economy stabilized and started its upward climb again.

Everything’s going to be okay—you got this!

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