Towards the end of 2019, a lot of people were busy closing out their business year and making plans for 2020. But before we’ve even got to Q2, we’re now looking at record-high unemployment, small businesses like retailers and restaurants suffering, and many having to shut down.
A lot of Americans are worried about job security, stressed out about finances, and wanting to find ways to diversify their income. In times like these, it can be easy to fall into the trap of a negative mindset that is filled with fear, anxiety, stress, and a ton of other things you can’t control.
On the flip side of things, I think this is a time when, if you can see it this way, you can begin creating more opportunities for yourself. Yes, even when things feel dire and uncertain, you can still push to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
In this blog post, I’m going to address five ways in which you can future-proof your business, your side hustle, and your career.
1. Know Exactly What You Bring to the Table
Now more than ever is the time to really get focused on what you’re good at, and how you can turn that into an actual side hustle or business that will generate income. Being good at a specific skill set will:
- Set you apart from the rest of the competition.
- Help you position your products/services in your specific niche.
- Help you understand the type of messaging that is already working, and how to replicate it. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; instead, look at what others are doing that’s working really well and see how you can make that work for you, too. It’s not about copying; you need to make it unique to what you have to offer and how you present that to your target customers.
If you’re already running a business, now is the time to really invest in digital marketing and technology. It doesn’t matter if you’re a solopreneur, a small business owner, or a side hustler, you need to have a business that’s ready to pivot and flexible enough to do so offline into the online world. Here’s why it’s so important:
- On average, for every $92 spent on acquiring a customer, just $1 is then spent on trying to convert them.
- Companies that blog get 55% more web traffic.
- 78% of Internet users conduct product research online.
- 82% of searchers will use their phone to help them make a decision about an in-store purchase. With the current situation, you can use your website as a place for people to make a purchase on the spot without having to visit you in-store.
2. Build a Brand through Storytelling
I’ve always said this and I believe it: people buy from people. With that in mind, being able to tell stories about your business and why you started is a great way to attract new customers and also to maintain a loyal customer base.
Here are some quick ideas to get started on if you haven’t already:
- Document and push out videos that show behind-the-scenes footage of your business—be brave enough to draw back the curtains and show people what you do and how you do it.
- Be authentic in every piece of content—you don’t need a perfect production studio, just jump onto Instagram or FB Live and talk to your follower base.
- Tell stories about your business’s mission, why it’s important to you and how you share it with the people who buy from you. Feature loyal customers, and show what a business day is like for you, what sets you apart from the rest.
3. Diversify, but Stay True to Your Core Competency
Here’s where I see a lot of businesses get into a challenging position; they get too focused on doing just that ONE thing that generates revenue. When you think outside the box and begin to diversify your income, while staying true to what you do really well, you become much more able to stay afloat, which makes times of uncertainty a lot less frightening.
Look at different ways you can upsell and cross sell your offerings. This isn’t just about making more money; you need to add more value along the way so that you entice people to stick by you—and to refer their friends.
Additionally, why not get creative with digitizing your products/services? You could:
- Run virtual events where you showcase new products or talk about different services and how they add value to your target customers. The CTA (call-to-action) for these events would entail people being able to buy from you.
- Create a membership site that has a more in-depth experience. For example, if you’re a personal trainer, you could charge a small fee to get members to join your program, then interact with them regularly.
- Continue investing in digital ads, but be empathetic about what’s going on in the world and always give everything a good sense of context.
4. Financial Literacy Is Key for Success
One of the first things I do before starting any of my side hustles, let alone my primary business, is to figure out how I’m going to make money. I don’t make this the driving force behind what I do, but it is important to have a pulse on money out and money in. Doing this will only help make sure that you’re operating with a high profit margin and that you’ll be able to properly forecast your earnings as well as maintain good cash flow during the times when you aren’t getting as many sales.
5. Offer Valuable Services and/or Products
With the current pandemic, a lot of people who are out of work or worried about job security are venturing out to find ways to build that side hustle and to make cash—fast.
It’s important that you understand the current struggles of your market and take the following into consideration:
- How can you add more value to their current situation?
- What advice can you give that is worth paying for?
- What can you afford to give away at a discounted price and even bundled as a package?
Remember: when people buy from you, there’s an emotional behavior behind it. Whether you are solving a big or a small problem, you’re alleviating pain points, and therefore adding value to someone else’s life.
Additionally, it might seem logical to just give away your services and products for free, but know that when things are given away for free, they essentially lose their “value”. Be thoughtful about what you’re able to provide and make sure that the people who are engaged with you truly fit as your target persona.
Wrapping It Up
Don’t get too caught up in trying to perfect everything you’re trying to do. It’s more important that the business idea you bring to fruition has a backup plan and that you’re smart with your finances when it comes to investing back into your business while also paying yourself.
Building and scaling a future-proof business is about knowing—that you have a good market with demand, that you can pivot when needed, and that you’re stubborn about your goals yet flexible in your approach. There will always be unexpected costs along the way, but if you’re steadfast with changes, you’ll be able to survive the hard times.