It has been a rough year for many people, including small business owners.  Some businesses, both large and small, permanently closed during the recent coronavirus global pandemic.

You might be worried about how to run a business during bad times, especially if you’re a new entrepreneur. Or maybe you’re already seeing warning signs such as declining sales or other businesses in your industry closing their doors.

What can a young entrepreneur like yourself do? Here are some tips to help you run a business during bad times.

  1. Change your mind.

Take some time to go over what thoughts you’ve had about your business before jumping into any plans to help your business. It’s so easy to feel stuck in a bunch of negative thoughts, especially when your business isn’t doing well. 

For example, do you find yourself second-guessing previous steps or business decisions you’ve made? Or maybe you’re wondering if you’re good enough to be an entrepreneur. It’s time to replace your doubts, with positive reminders.

Work on keeping a positive attitude about your business and your future. This doesn’t mean going into denial about the problems you’re facing. It means believing you can make your business succeed with your abilities and help from others.

Remind yourself why you started your business in the first place. What annoying problem(s) did you want to solve for your customers? Go back to your feelings and wishes that first motivated you to build your business. Those same feelings of hope and excitement can carry you through as you start planning how you and your business will make it through this tough time.

  1. Get clear on your business’ problems.

Ask yourself why your business is struggling. Here are some common business challenges that you might be dealing with:

  • Changes in the market: Change is one of life’s few guarantees. Consider how your business is being hurt by the recent global coronavirus pandemic. There could also be other causes for your business problems including economic factors, new technology, and/or new competitors.
  • Not knowing your customers: You don’t need to personally know every single customer. But it’s important to pay attention to any changes in your customers’ interest in what your business offers. Understand how the previously mentioned market changes (a pandemic, new tech, etc.) might change how and what your customers want to buy from you. Knowing what’s causing your business’ problems can actually be empowering, even if you don’t feel great about learning about these reasons at first.

Now that you know what’s holding your business back, you can adapt to these changes and come up with possible solutions to help your business succeed.

  1. Create creative changes: Persistence and creativity are two major reasons why some businesses survive, and even thrive, during tough times while other businesses close. Not giving up can set the foundation for your future success. It’s even more important to be open to possibly changing how your business works and your business’ products or services.

So what does a successful creative change look like? Here are a couple of examples.

  • Try a new online platform: Maybe your business is already fully online, especially during the last few months of the global pandemic. But some groups of customers are changing how they spend time online. If you have a business website or blog, consider starting a YouTube channel or a podcast to reach current and new customers who have more time to watch and listen to online content.
  • Pay attention to your customers who are still buying from you. Many businesses earn most of their income from less than half (and sometimes less than a third) of their customers. Focus on which of your products, or which features of a product are most popular with this small group of customers.
  • Offer a different product/service that meets your customers’ current needs. Consider how you can provide something to help your customers during these tough times. For example Lyft, the ridesharing company, recently used some of their cars to deliver medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Final Thoughts on How to Run a Business During Bad Times

It’s okay to have problems while running your business. And it’s okay to be worried. 

The most important things to remember? Make plans and take action.

Don’t let your fears and feeling hopeless overwhelm you or keep you from trying to make your business work during bad times. You can:

  • Change how you think about your business.
  • Take an honest look at problems in your business.
  • Create changes to help your business.

Some businesses have survived, and even thrived, during past and current bad times. Follow the tips listed above, and your business can be another great success story.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

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