This is a post written by our IT friends at Spidernet Technical Consulting. We encourage you to review these points carefully, and give us a call if you need any assistance. Spidernet can also be a valuable resource for many of these steps. We are happy to put you in touch with this top-notch IT firm if you are in need of assistance with your present technology.
With the advent of COVID-19, most businesses have unfortunately slowed down. A recent Goldman Sachs survey found that more than 50% of 1,500 small business owners said they couldn’t continue for more than 3 months at current sales rates. Rather than wallow and wait, though, take the opportunity to do those things that you never have time to do. Here are nine things that you should do now, so that you’re ready to jump back into the fray as soon as this crisis is over.
1. Review your passwords and security settings.
New security threats pop up every day. Since COVID-19 struck, hackers have intensified their phishing attempts to prey on peoples’ thirst for news surrounding the virus. What happens when a hacker gains personal information from one of these attempts? Often, the value isn’t in the initial data theft or financial potential therein. Hackers really don’t care what your password to one particular site is. Instead, they sell the information on the Dark Web. Take the opportunity to lock down your security protocols, now. Start with determining if your information is posted somewhere on the Dark Web, then set up ongoing monitoring to maintain awareness of what is out there about you. Beyond the Dark Web, make sure you have a security plan in place that includes your firewall, antivirus, and protecting remote connections.
2. Write your compliance plan.
There are new privacy laws popping up all over the world, including data privacy laws across the U.S. How are you going to be compliant with customer, prospect, and website visitor data? In addition to website compliance, take a look at PCI, NIST, and HIPAA (if applicable) compliance. We can help you review your current compliance and create a plan to overcome challenges.
3. Update your hardware.
While you cannot use any PPP loan funds to cover hardware upgrades, if you received a PPP loan, you may have some cash available to upgrade your hardware to be prepared as business picks back up. Even if you weren’t lucky enough to secure funding in the first round of loans, still look at upgrading your computer systems. While you likely want to avoid the hefty expense of a full-blown project, consider “Hardware as a Service” as an option, to pay monthly for your hardware. This lowers the initial cash outlay, and turns your hardware expenditure into an operating expense rather than a capital expense.
4. Refresh your website.
Creating your company website was probably a major undertaking. From writing the content to agreeing on design, it’s one of those projects that probably does not bring fond memories. The challenge is, your website should be completely renovated every three to five years, with content updates at least every quarter. Dig back in and address your website, making sure you are highlighting your most recent offerings, and addressing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) concerns effectively.
5. Clean up your leads list.
Databases get old and sloppy very quickly, especially if you don’t perform regular maintenance routines. Who has time for regular maintenance? Now you do! This is the time to get everything straightened out. Audit your prospect and client lists, remove duplicate records, re-classify contact types, and create a plan for ongoing maintenance so that you don’t have to undergo a major database cleaning project again.
6. Create a strategic plan/ Determine Your Next Offering
If this crisis hasn’t shown you that you need to be agile, nimble and always have a plan for what’s next, I’m not sure what will. Brainstorm your next product offering, or your next marketing effort. Create a plan for the next 12-18 months. Strategic planning too often hits the back burner, but is critical for ongoing success. You’ve just been given a great gift – the time to plan. Use it wisely.
7. Collect testimonials and case studies.
If you’re doing your job well, clients and customers are sending you emails of appreciation, anecdotes of quality customer service, and sharing accolades about your team. Unfortunately, when you’ve got a lot on your plate, these tend to be fleeting messages in your inbox with a mere “thank you” response to the sender. Dig those out and position them as testimonials, case studies, and customer “shout-outs” to post on your website.
8. Educate yourself and your staff.
One of the biggest reasons business owners avoid training their staff is that it involves taking time away from the business. Immerse yourself and your staff in training so that they are armed with a standard set of “best practices” when business begins to rebound.
9. Update your standard operating procedures.
Documentation falls by the wayside when in the thick of day-to-day business, resulting in standard operating procedures that are woefully out of date. Have your staff take a look at your current standard operating procedures (you do have those written down somewhere, don’t you?). Work through them one-by-one, ensuring that you have the latest version on file and that you have removed any superfluous processes. Work toward a complete business manual, to help any new hires and to ensure standardization across your entire staff.
We have every hope that the country will begin to safely open up very soon. In the meantime, though, make the most of this business downturn by prepping your business for resurgence.