Updated: 18 August 2020
For Britain’s independent business owners, now that lockdown is being eased, the hard work really starts. How do you get your sales and, most importantly, your profitability, back to where it needs to be?
Nigel Botterill is one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs, having built nine separate million-pound-plus businesses in the last 15 years, so he knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed in times like these.
He’s shared his ‘Big Six’ things that every business owner needs to focus on during the next few months to give themselves the best possible chance of getting sales and profits to where they need to be.
Firstly, it’s critical that you remember that there isn’t a recession for everyone. The numbers that they talk about in the media are the high-level macro numbers, but that doesn’t reflect what’s actually happening with individuals.
The reality is that there are lots of people – and businesses – that right now are sat on more disposable cash than they’ve ever had in their lives.
Sure, there are also people and businesses that are struggling like never before, but the important point to lock onto is that there is money out there and people who are willing to spend it.
This isn’t like a normal downturn where everybody’s been affected the same. That’s simply not true. So if you can think creatively, in the right way, getting your sales back up to, and above, where they were before lockdown is a very achievable objective for many.
Your success during the second half of 2020 will be determined 95% by you and 5% by the outside world, so my second point is that it’s critical that business owners recognise their responsibilities here.
It’s what YOU think and do that will make the difference to your sales and your profits. When bad things happen in the world and problems emerge, most people think that they have to feel bad as well.
Successful entrepreneurs aren’t like that. Their approach is simply: “Okay, another problem. Let’s deal with it.” It’s absolutely critical that you recognise that what happens to your business over the next six months is down to you.
So if you have the right frame of mind, you can get your business back to the good times. However, it’s not going to be possible to flourish in the weeks and months ahead without your head being in the right place. And again, that’s down to you.
Third on my list is an appreciation that the more things you get done over the next few weeks, the more profit you’ll make. Getting stuff done is by far the best way to predict your future.
Putting aside 90 minutes each day to focus on your marketing, for instance, would be the smartest thing any ambitious entrepreneur could do moving forward.
You can spend the rest of the day getting immersed in the nitty-gritty, delivering for your customers, looking after staff and all the other stuff you have to deal with, providing that you’ve got those 90 minutes set aside to focus on doing the things that will make your business more successful.
That brings us on nicely to the fourth of the Big Six , which is “be aggressive with your marketing”.
Right now, marketing is NOT a non-essential spend. If people don’t know about you, what you do and why they should choose you, then they aren’t ringing you up, or coming to see you or visiting your website. And that’s bad for business.
Almost all media is cheaper right now. The cost of advertising on Facebook and Google plummeted during lockdown and it’s not too late to benefit. But you have to get on the front foot. You have to be out there. And that’s why you need those 90 minutes to make sure you’re focusing on the right things.
5. Start using video
Video really is the new normal. It’s so easy to do now. You don’t need a production company – you just need your iPhone and your personality.
So many Brits feel inhibited on video but the price they pay for keeping themselves and their business hidden is massive in terms of lost sales and profit.
Facebook Lives are a brilliant way to strengthen relationships and create awareness of what you do. If your website hasn’t got a video of you talking about what you do and how you help people on the front page, you’re undoubtedly missing out on sales.
In simple terms, business owners are going to have two choices with regards to video moving forward; they can reluctantly embrace it or they can enthusiastically embrace it. You don’t have to be perfect, that really doesn’t matter. People want ‘realness’, authenticity and integrity.
And that can come across in spades when you are yourself on video. Start doing it this week.
6. Go back to your leads
Finally, the best way to kickstart your own liberation from lockdown is to focus on all those unconverted leads that you have sat around.
People that enquired in January and February, during lockdown, or even at the back end of last year. Just send them what we call the three line email.
“Hi, Bob, are you still looking for a (whatever it is that you do)?
If so, I’d love to help…
There’s nothing more to it than that.
It’s not salesy. It’s not pushy. But it generates really good responses. You could send it out this afternoon and you’ll have people wanting to talk to you within a matter of hours.
Of course, whether you do that or not is up to you. But then that’s the case for this whole recovery from lockdown.
Accept responsibility. Get stuff done. And never forget that what happens next is in your hands.
Nigel Botterill is the Founder of Entrepreneurs Circle the UK’s largest organisation that’s dedicated to helping businesses to grow. For access to free training and more marketing and templates like the 3 Line Email, go to https://entrepreneurscircle.org/free/
It’s important to remember that when taking a loan, your business is liable for the full loan amount. The CBIL scheme provides a guarantee to the lender, not to the business.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy (BEIS). Full details on CBILS eligibility criteria and the list of participating CBILS lenders can be found on the British Business Bank website.
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