Business owners are holding their breath.
Right now, companies are quietly evaporating into nothingness. When this is all over, you’ll be wondering where they went. For those of you that are worried about what’s next – or fighting for survival – here are three critical areas you should be asking for help in.
1. Digital Marketing
In-person retail is changed for years to come, maybe forever. The convenience and safety of online shopping is the new normal. Many businesses that believed their online presence wasn’t important are suffering. Now online shopping is the only way to buy from them. The phased opening of our country isn’t perfect. Some furloughed employees are making more in unemployment than they would by returning to work in an evaporating business.
It may be time for a new website for your business. However, keep in mind it is only one part of your online presence. Online shopping is more about the “ecosystem” of your business authority online – than your website alone. Your website along with your businesses activity on social media are all one group working together to create a footprint. This is how modern shoppers find and buy from you. Rather than learning all this on your own, it may be best to contact a marketing company. Understand you may need to contact many vendors before you find a fit, because business is booming. But it will be faster to get a knowledgeable guide than rely on the expertise of one internal employee. Don’t make the classic mistake of assuming any young person will understand all of this because they use social media. You might know how to cook, but you couldn’t open an award winning restaurant.
2. Cost Cutting
Unfortunately, companies are cutting costs through layoffs. Other companies are cutting costs by shifting resources to critical areas. This means evaluating internal processes – and going digital wherever possible. Paper-based processes are difficult and create frustration in your company’s operations. These can be replaced with new technologies and custom software development. By having employees work remotely you’re saving money on many expenses, but remote workers need to feel engaged without distraction and have the tools they need to do their jobs. Some of this is available through commercial software, and some is created custom through automation and new software development.
Look for any processes that could be done faster and easier to make it easy to get your products and services. Sometimes, this discovery is started through a redesign of your business website – or requested by your staff. In evaluating a custom software development vendor, look for small companies that do not have the struggles or expenses of large companies. Larger companies will pass these internal costs on to you in their pricing. They will often outsource the work to smaller companies anyway, and act as a broker for your project.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity has had a possibly permanent digital shift as everything moved online. Some companies have declared work-from home (“WFH”) forever. Frustrated IT staff have rushed WFH technologies in place to keep employees connected. This has left the door wide open to ransomware gangs and malicious hackers. Security is a specialized discipline. Don’t expect your rushed IT staff to understand cybersecurity – especially in an emergency to keep your business afloat.
Cybersecurity health is critical right now. Like a virus, attackers breach the most vulnerable areas first – then move through your network population and infrastructure. Like COVID-19, it’s often a very long time before an “infection” or breach is actually discovered – if at all. Some companies continue to do business as usual, with no symptoms for months. This means your employees, customers, and clients are also exposed in a breach. Once your customer’s information is compromised, attackers will attempt to monetize that data over and over again through fraud and more hacks… for years at a time.
Improving cybersecurity is an easy thing to start, but the job is never finished. However, it is much less expensive to improve cybersecurity now than clean up the mess later. Many cybersecurity companies offer free evaluations and services, and all it takes is having a conversation with them. Having that conversation sooner than later is key. It is also important to test if you have been breached already, and the best cybersecurity companies will offer a free “test” to see if you are positive, like the Coronavirus test.
Sustaining your business is critical in the modern environment, especially as we don’t know how long things will last. Start having conversations about how these trends will affect your business. Don’t be afraid to ask for outside help. Getting estimates and evaluations is often free. Do it now, so you are ahead of the curve.