The CoVid Chronicles 4: The Lone Wolf Entrepreneur
April 9, 2020
One of my windows on the small business world is our local Chamber of Commerce where more than 40% of our membership are sole proprietors or self-employed.
For this segment of our business community, the economic consequences of self isolation are the same as a layoff, except that these loners are ineligible for EI and outside of the current government assistance criteria. Massage therapists, financial advisers, bookkeepers, tax preparers and even consultants are cut off from their clients and their source of income.
We can’t predict when we will be able to resume doing business in the usual way. In fact, our way of doing business may never be the same. As independents, we need to focus on ways to maintain contact with our present client base and cultivate future business. We also need to deep-think about the post-CoVid business climate and position ourselves to capitalize on opportunities when the economy reawakens.
It is a given that self-employed entrepreneurs do not have the financial resources to buy advertising. The good news is that many communications channels are free. The not-so-good news is that they are clogged with more information than the average consumer can absorb.
If you have an established client base, this is a good time amp up your lines of communication. The free version of Mail Chimp is an excellent way to publish a newsletter that goes directly to your clients’ IN-Box. As with all social media, content is everything. Your newsletter should contain a few nuggets of valuable information that will educate your client about the services you provide. If you are a hair stylist, you might offer tips on maintaining the health and appearance of your hair and scalp at a time when it isn’t getting regular professional attention. If you are a massage therapist, your tips might be on simple exercises to maintain mobility and flexibility. A financial adviser might pass along free advice on household budgeting when everyone is house-bound. Your client depends on you as an expert in your field. This is your opportunity to share your expertise while keeping the lines of communication open. Think about ways you can share specialized coping strategies during the isolation.
If you don’t already have a web site for your enterprise, now is the time to get started. Platforms like WIX and Weebly offer free or low-cost DIY website tools. Even if you begin with just one page, you will establish a presence in the Google universe. You can easily add pages in future, as you grow your business. There is abundant free information on the web to guide you on presentation and content. At the outset, less is more: who you are, what you do, why people should buy your goods or services and how they can contact you. During the isolation, you can’t have in-person contact but you can certainly answer their questions and tell them what you can do for them, once we get back to normal.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) enables you to keep track of your interactions with customers. If you know your customers’ names and contact details, you can track your contacts, communications, and sales transactions and analyze information. BDC Canada has a list of free or low-cost CRM software (https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/technology/free-low-cost-applications/pages/crm-solutions-free-low-cost-options.aspx) that will help you better understand your relationship with your customers and learn how to build your loyal customer base.
There has never been a better time to research, re-examine and re-build your business model to position yourself for the recovery.