For weeks now, news about the coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has grown increasingly alarming. Now that it’s reached the United States and the president has declared a national emergency, many employers are encouraging employees to work from home to reduce the virus’ spread and “flatten the curve.” Small businesses everywhere are facing closure—and whether that will be temporary or permanent remains to be seen.
In the midst of uncertainty, there are steps you can take to mitigate costs and stretch your income to keep your business afloat. You might have to adjust your strategies and get creative, but the experience could prove more beneficial to your business than you expect! Here are 11 ways your business can save money during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Switch to a low-cost payment provider.
- Hold fewer meetings.
- Optimize marketing efforts through niche marketing.
- Buy in bulk.
- Use freelancers.
- Focus on search engines.
- Set up an online store.
- Use free software.
- Clean up your mailing lists.
- Be an early bird in marketing efforts.
- Buy used equipment.
Let’s get into it!
Switch to a lost-cost payment provider.
One of the best things you can do is evaluate your business expenses and determine, first, which services you don’t need to be paying for at all, and second, which services you’re overpaying for. Payment processing is a necessary service, as it allows your business to accept credit cards, but providers often hike up their rates in order to increase their profits. Save money on processing expenses by switching to a low-cost payment provider that will charge a fixed flat rate for all of your transactions. It also helps to find a processor that integrates into major ERP/accounting systems – This helps to qualify transactions at lower costs and saves you money by automating certain accounting practices.
Hold fewer meetings.
You’ve seen those memes about meetings that could have been emails, right? (If you haven’t, scroll down a bit. Now you have.) Calling meetings disrupts your employees’ workdays and redirects their focus from the tasks they have at hand. Meetings also tend to veer off-course as employees bring up unrelated questions or concerns. If it’s not urgent, send an email so that your team (yourself included!) can prioritize what matters to keep bringing in customers during leaner times. If your team has transitioned to working remotely and you do need to speak with them face to face, Microsoft and Google are offering the business versions of their Teams and Hangouts platforms free of charge for the duration of the outbreak.
Optimize marketing efforts through niche marketing.
As the general population prepares for a recession, unnecessary purchases are the first to go. This means there’s no better time to get really familiar with your audience and position your business or product as the solution to a very specific problem commonly experienced by your customers. Your business remains essential if it’s the only one in your industry that fulfills a given need—or does it better than any of your competitors. Use your social media channels and practice social listening to get a feel for your customers’ concerns, and narrow down your ads and other marketing efforts to address them. You can also gain insight into your competitors’ strategies with tools like Adbeat.
Buy in bulk.
If your company produces or resells a physical product, consider your supply chain. Are there ways you could lower manufacturing or distribution costs by buying wholesale? The upfront total cost might be greater than your usual expenses, but the cost per unit will be lower and your order frequency will decrease. Review your selling trends and determine what items you can safely purchase in bulk without losing money on excess inventory. Other items, like supplies for your office, may also cost less when purchased in larger units, rather than on an as-needed basis.
When you have infrequent tasks that require a certain skill set, hiring a freelancer is the way to go. And as many individuals who rely on the gig economy anticipate a major slowdown in job opportunities, it’s a great way to help provide income for those who may find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Sites like Freelancer, Upwork, and Fiverr are great places to connect with people who have the skills to complete your projects in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Focus on search engines.
SEO is a great way to prioritize non-paid advertising, and organic search is still an effective way to bring traffic to your site. Tools like Ahrefs help you dig up low-competition keywords that are relevant to your industry so that you can optimize your content and gain visibility in uncrowded spaces. Take every opportunity to stand out!
Set up an online store.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store and have been thinking about adding an eCommerce platform, now is your moment. An increasing number of shops are closing their doors to wait out the coronavirus threat, and you’ll be left twiddling your thumbs if you don’t have a way to keep selling when your physical location shuts down. You can get started for free on a number of platforms.
Use free software.
Wherever possible, downgrade your subscriptions to save money on software costs, and look for ways to bundle your services. There are many cloud-based software systems that provide accounting, marketing, and invoicing services. If you need your software to perform a specific function, just turn to Google – It’s incredibly easy to find what you’re looking for. One of our favorite free marketing tools is Buffer.
Clean up your mailing lists.
If you’ve been in business for a few years, you may have put your mailing lists on autopilot. But chances are good that your target audience has shifted as your business has grown and changed, and you may not be reaching them as effectively as you think you are. Now is a great time to reevaluate your lists to make sure you’re focusing your efforts on real people in your market, and getting your content in front of the people who will find it most relevant.
Be an early bird in marketing efforts.
Jumping on trends quickly will help save money before the trend becomes saturated. Now that you’re saving time on accounting processes, and you’re mitigating expenses by cutting down on unnecessary services, you can use some resources to research the emerging trends in your industry. Once you’ve identified them, you can develop ad campaigns and marketing strategies that feel fresh and attract the attention of your desired audience.
Buy used equipment.
Trying to keep pace with the newest technology is a losing battle anyway, so stop worrying about the Joneses and trying to be the hippest small business around. Purchase gently used equipment instead of that new computer model that promises to be slightly faster. You’ll reap substantial savings, and be able to perform your tasks just as effectively. If you have older but still functional machines, hold off on upgrading them until the economy stabilizes.
The coronavirus outbreak has plunged the entire planet into new and ambiguous territory. Navigating it as a small business owner will require courage, patience, and the ability to think on your feet. It’s important to develop strategies to cut down on expenses and maximize your resources. And even when the crisis is over, these 11 ways you can save money during the coronavirus outbreak will continue to help you allocate your resources well. Take this time to reprioritize and reevaluate, so that you’re ready for whatever new challenges come your way in the future!