Business owners will be very worried about how their company can survive over the next few months. However, though a lockdown means there will be no customers visiting your premises, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop trading completely. What it does mean is that you’ll need to think out of the box to come up with income-generating alternatives and make your business agile enough to adapt to your new circumstances. Here are some ideas you should consider.
If you cannot trade from physical premises or face to face, the only way to serve your customers is online. That will mean adding shopping functionality to your website and communicating with your customers using email, social media and if your budget allows, through advertising.
If you don’t currently have a website, you can create one quickly, easily and cheaply. You can host your website here at WHUK for as little as £2.49 a month (plus VAT) and this will provide you with all the services and support you need to put your website online and give you professional email addresses. You can purchase a domain name (e.g. yourbusiness.com) from us too, for as little as £7.20 a year. And, once your hosting account is set up, you can install free, easy to use, website creation software, like WordPress, with one click. To add a shopping area to your site, you can then install the free WooCommerce plugin, which can be done in a couple of clicks from your website’s dashboard.
If you don’t already have business social media accounts on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you would also need to set these up so you can promote your business to a much wider audience.
Alternative income streams
One of the most difficult things is to think of alternative ways to generate revenue. The key here is to look at what your business has expertise in and then work out how it can still help customers who are unable to access your current services.
Retailers, in some respects, have the easiest solution. They can simply advertise their products on their website, on social media platforms or sites like eBay and have them delivered to customers. Local businesses can even offer same-day delivery by dropping off the items themselves.
The challenge is bigger for companies which offer services. Social media, however, has plenty of examples of businesses with innovative solutions. Many restaurants, for example, are now delivering cooked meals or ingredient and recipe packs to their customers and helping taxi drivers stay in business while doing so. Local electrical and device repair services, meanwhile, are offering to collect and return items from customers’ homes.
Hair and beauty salons are creating monthly hair care and body care packages to be delivered to their customers’ homes. Contacting existing customers by email and text message, they are sending out items that their clients used to buy when they visited, like hair conditioner, styling products, face masks and body lotions. They are doing this by getting customers to sign up to receive regular monthly packages, which gives them time to acquire stock and helps them gauge what demand will be. They are then asking customers to like and share the service on social media to generate more sales through their website. Again, this is something that can be done by nail clinics, manicurists, pedicurists and various other service providers.
Other businesses which have used the internet to keep going are fitness instructors and educational tutors. Using easily available video conferencing apps, fitness classes and tutoring sessions can take place with all the usual members in attendance, except done from the safety of their own home. With a website, customers can sign up and pay for the services in advance and then those who have paid can be called when the session begins. Obviously, fitness instructors won’t be able to hand out equipment, so some improvisation or alternative ideas may be required. This method of delivering a service can be adopted by many other kinds of business – financial advisors, recruitment agencies, travel agents or anywhere else where visual communication is essential.
Advice, add-on sales and affiliate income
Where a service cannot be delivered, there are still business continuity opportunities to be had through video and blogging. For example, if people cannot go to have their hair styled in a salon, they will want to be able to do it at home. Creating a video showing people how to do this and then offering to provide them with the best tools (e.g. hairdryers) and products (e.g. hairspray) to bring about the desired result, can generate much-needed income. It’s a form of income generation that can be adopted by a wide range of businesses.
Perhaps best of all for cashflow purposes, joining an affiliate programme, like Amazon Associates, enables you to earn commission on these products sales without having to buy in stock or worry about delivery. All you need to do is recommend a product and provide a link to the store’s product page for customers to click on.
You can make videos on your phone and post them to your website, YouTube and social media channels and you can put blog posts on your website (WordPress is ideal for this) and link to them in your social media posts. You can also send out links by email and text to existing customers.
While this post can’t solve all the problems faced by businesses during the present circumstances, we hope it will give some of you ideas for how you can keep your business going even when customers are unable to visit your premises or meet you in person.
For more information about our web hosting and domain services, visit webhosting.uk.com