The real threat to your business: ten things not to do in a crisis

Have you stopped to think that perhaps the real threat to the future of your business right now may not be Covid-19? The real threat could actually be a lot closer to home?…

…let me explain.

How you act now in the current Covid-19 crisis will be remembered even when this is all over; by clients, colleagues and of course…you.

You cannot help how you feel about the situation, but you do have control over how you react to it. Fundamentally, it should not change your core values and how you treat your clients, colleagues, and peers. It is totally ok to feel a whole host of emotions right now; scared, worried, sad, angry, frustrated. But in the panic to claw back clients, do not compromise the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build.

Here are 10 things to avoid doing right now, no matter how tempting they may be…

1. The hard sell

No one wants the hard sell right now. It gets on people’s nerves and instantly switches them off. That doesn’t mean don’t sell, quite the contrary, it just means focus on how you, your service or product can help people right now. If someone doesn’t want what you have to offer right now, that’s ok – they’ll be back when they do need you… if you don’t put them off by being pushy. Which leads me nicely on to my next point.

2. Skipping the steps

Social media is about nurturing relationships, getting to know the person behind the profile & building the ever-important know, like and trust factors. What some people forget is that there’s another person on the other side of that profile. Those that slide in others’ DM’s and start selling as soon as they’ve connected with someone is an instant turn off. Without building the foundations of our relationships with potential clients (e.g engaging with their posts) you will definitely be doing more harm than good if you try to sell to them straight away, it may also get you blocked by the individual too!

3. Social media silence

People need reassurance right now. They want to know what you’re doing, how it’s affecting your business and most importantly, how you can help them! Your social media accounts are the perfect vehicles to share these messages – especially as everyone is online right now! Those that consistently show up on social media at this time show that they’re there for the long haul and will be remembered when we come out of the other side of this.

4. Not paying your way

If you can pay a bill, pay it. Not paying what you owe can have a devastating domino effect on companies and the lives dependant on them. Do your bit to keep businesses going right now. If cash is a bit tight, get in touch with the company you owe to see if your outstanding balance can be delayed or the due date extended, or if an instalment plan is possible. They will really appreciate and remember it.

5. Flouting the rules

The government has imposed rules to help save lives and to protect the economy during the current Covid-19 crisis. The whole country has got on board with the decisions they’ve made, so if you’re seen to be one of the few breaking these rules this will undoubtedly damage your reputation – people will see you as reckless and untrustworthy.

6. Whining

You know the social media accounts I’m talking about… don’t be one of those. Everyone is in the same boat, doing their best to adapt to the situation, pivot their business and stay afloat. Most of us are looking at social media to escape, entertain, inspire and uplift us. Whinging and whining just drags people down. It’s ok to share your frustrations but try to put a positive spin on it. You don’t want your brand to be tarnished by negativity when this is all over.

7. Panic your clients

Sending clients unexpected bills out of the blue is just not the done thing. Stick to your arrangements with clients as much as possible or speak to them if you’d like to propose a new arrangement. In all this chaos, your clients are craving a bit of stability and consistency – be the one to provide it. You could risk sending them into panic mode if you start making demands that are outside of your agreement.

8. Refuse to compromise

Refusing to compromise when a supplier or client is clearly in trouble could damage your relationship with them, forcing them to look elsewhere for their business. At times like this we need to be as accommodating as possible and if you can help someone, do it! This will help build your reputation and position you as someone that can be depended on. However, this should never be at your own business’ detriment – which is why in most cases a compromise can usually be found.

9. Poaching clients

Desperate times do not call for desperate measures. Deliberately poaching your peers’ clients in an underhand way won’t gain you the reputation you want or the type of fickle clients you want long term!

10. Gossip

Talking badly about someone else’s business to make yours look better just isn’t the way to go about getting new clients. When I hear someone doing it, it immediately makes me think if they can say that about them, what are they saying about me? It’s no way to build trust with people – which is one of the main reasons people choose to do business with you, over others.

Although it may be your natural instinct to do what you can to save your business, just remember to stop and think about your actions and their consequences. I guarantee that if you do any of these things as a short term fix you may need to invest heavily in PR to save your business in the long term, but, no good PR agent will want to work with you! Don’t sell out for a sale and always treat others how you would like to be treated.

Fiona Scott has more than 30-years media experience as a journalist in print, broadcast and television, which she still maintains while running a successful media consultancy from her home in Wiltshire – a county she is passionate about supporting. She’s also a guest director on the BBC day- time series Flog It!, and is an ambassador for Swindon 105.5 community radio.

With a vested interest in supporting SMEs, Fiona now uses her extensive career to support and coach business owners with their own media journeys – offering practical and supportive advice to help them to tell their stories and show off their best assets. For more information visit https://www.fionascottmediaconsultancy.co.uk/

Fiona is also doing a huge amount to support SMEs through the Corona crisis, especially through her Facebook group SMEs vs Coronavirus.