How to Grow Your Business While Everyone Else is Downsizing
Take a stroll along your local High Street, and you’d be forgiven for finding it hard to envision any business growth and scaling in 2021. It’s easy to spot signs of the ravages COVID-19 Pandemic has had upon the retail sector. Closed signs and boarded-up units mean some city centers have a ghost-town vibe.
In some parts of the UK, 1 -in-5 retail units now sit empty as businesses downsize . In the US, Department Stores have seen a decline in revenue growth of -11.2% in 2020 – 2021 . A whole raft of Global Brands have announced layoffs in 2021:
- General Mills,
- Exxon Mobile,
- Nokia, and
are just some of the businesses downsizing this year . However, it is possible to future-proof your business with smart choices that allow you to focus on making the most of the new landscape.
With some intelligent decisions, you can grow your business while others are downsizing. Read on for four tips on how to benefit from Pandemic Scaling in 2021.
Appreciate your workforce
Your business’s greatest asset is your employees. Successful Entrepreneur, Richard Branson, has put this principle into practice in his many ventures . By looking after your employees, you can – in turn – look after your customers and clients, ensuring they are served by committed and engaged employees. And happy customers mean healthy profits and growth via word-of-mouth recommendations.
This principle has never been more critical than now. Businesses are operating in a landscape where, as a world, we are trying to pick up the pieces of surviving and continuing to live through a global pandemic.
Know your employees’ pain
Employees have – in many cases – had to juggle childcare or caring for vulnerable people while also adapting to new ways of operating at work. They’ve been flexible and adaptable to keep the show on the road: even in the face of intense personal pain and suffering.
As a business, if you can model a caring approach to employees and contractors, you can foster long-term business relationships that equip staff to manage and thrive through thick and thin.
Lead your team
Lead by example. Implement a robust employee reward and recognition scheme. Offer flexible working options and a long-term oriented caring, personal approach. This can help your business weather the storm of the impact of the Pandemic.
Appreciating and valuing your workforce works better, long-term, than an iron fist approach.
Communicate exhaustively, but transparently
The COVID Pandemic has torn many families and communities apart. And that is also true of the workforce. Employees who’ve needed to work remotely may have become isolated and adrift from wider teams. Your loyal and existing customers, too, may feel detached and isolated from your business if they’ve been forced to stay away because of the Pandemic. Potential investors need to hear how you manage and respond to the obstacles and hurdles the Pandemic has left in its wake.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Communication is the way to build bridges, build relationships and grow your business as a result. Clear, open, and transparent communication helps build supportive and trust-based relationships between you, employees, customers, and potential investors. Talk to your team and have them know they can talk to you. Aim to communicate exhaustively, using approachable and positive language and a range of media to connect with the people who can grow your business. Show you understand and listen to the challenges and obstacles you and your customers, clients, employees, and potential investors face. People notice when the language we use creates distance. Aim to make the most of your communication. Adopt and communicate openness and approachability with the people that matter to your business.
If a computer can do it, have it do it
The Pandemic has radically transformed the workplace and the business environment, accelerating the digital revolution and increasing automation and AI tech in force pre-2019 . Embrace this change. Focus on what can be made digital. Don’t be left behind. Online and e-commerce are critical ways to future-proof your business. Use a Slack workspace and make unnecessary physical offices in your business obsolete, slashing business travel expenses and office space rental. Replace files and binders with Google Drive and Dropbox. Online apps can manage phone lines. These changes have instant and tangible benefits to cutting overheads, allowing your business to adapt and streamline for a healthier profit margin.
There are hundreds of services that offer a vast range of online and automation services. Be creative, do your homework, and use evolution, adaptability, and powerful tools in growing any business.
Keep your eyes on the prize, invest in the future
It can be tempting to focus on making a quick buck and investing heavily in current needs, trends, or demand.
Yet, any entrepreneur worth their salt also knows that the goal of a successful and scalable business is long-term growth and profitability, not to earn some spending money this week. Take the example of the hand sanitizer market. 2020 – 2021 saw a massive increase in demand for hand sanitizer products. In 2021, there’s been an 8.2% reduction in revenue growth for this sector, and the market became saturated by product. People jumped on the bandwagon and made a quick buck. Yet, there’s now been shrinkage and scaling back as a result.
Instead of focusing on over-investing and sailing headfirst, full speed in a single trend, consider business sustainability for scalability. Now is not the time for high employee turnover. You certainly don’t want to make a quick buck from clients who are left disgruntled by your service or product. Instead, trust in your team and invest in them. Build your business and brand by engaging your client base on a human level. Consider the values of your business and maintain your integrity.
Remember, eye on the prize!
Aim to offer consistently exceptional customer service and seek feedback from clients to ensure each customer is satisfied. Customer service excellence allows you to spot emerging issues and make necessary changes for future success and sustainable growth.
You can grow your business while others are downsizing, even in the content of the Pandemic and its impact. Future-proofing against downsizing and continuing to grow involves an artful balance between embracing change and emerging technology and keeping a focus on traditional customer service and care for employees and business relationships.
. British Retail Consortium (2021). https://brc.org.uk/news/corporate-affairs/one-in-seven-shops-remain-shuttered/
. Ibis World (2021). https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/industry-trends/fastest-declining-industries/
. Intellizence (2021). https://intellizence.com/insights/layoff-downsizing/major-companies-that-announced-mass-layoffs/
. Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic CEO: https://careersuk.virgin-atlantic.com/life-at-virgin-atlantic/a-word-from-richard
. Industry Week (2021). https://www.industryweek.com/technology-and-iiot/article/21152034/robots-ready-to-grow-in-2021
William Cotter is the CEO of HappyCleans in Oklahoma City. His passions include small business, the environment, and healthy living.