Firstly, make peace with the fact that your business model, the way you make money will look very different from now on. Your sales lines, cost lines and profit will never return to the way they were. Making any kind of comparison to what was will not serve you. Get your head and heart around this. Get your team to get their head, and hearts around it. This is all about rapid pivoting.
Secondly, get on the phone with your customers to gain INSIGHT. Try to avoid email if you can. You’re after insight and that comes from having a conversation. Call up as many customers as you can over a few days. Be DISCIPLINED in this. You are after insight so you need to ASK, LISTEN and RECORD what they say. Find out from them where their pain is, what they’re needing / wanting right now, and then in the near future. Ask them directly how you can best help them. WRITE IT ALL DOWN. Once complete, compile their answers and look for similarities and differences. Identify the top needs they have.
OK, so now you can start creating something. Get in a room with four big pieces of paper.
1. Looking after your customers
On one sheet of paper, write out the key needs your customers have. Think about how you can best serve them, from TOMORROW. This is all about helping them. Be generous in your thinking and what you can offer. Lead with a servant leadership approach. It’s not only good karma but it will open up possibilities for you.
2. Create new revenue streams
On a second sheet write out your assets. Include things more than just hard things like materials – soft stuff like relationships, IP, data, knowledge etc etc. Look at each in turn, with your strategic customer hat on. For each asset, think of ideas to better monetise or leverage. More ideas the better. Don’t judge. Don’t filter.
3. Broadening your base
On a third sheet, write down possible extensions to your current product / service offering and market mix. Thinking back to the needs your customers have, ask yourself:
I) are there other customers or new markets similar to those of your current customers who would benefit from your current offering.
II) are there any refinements to your current product / service offering you could offer to your current customers to deepen the relationship
4. Look after your cash flow
Lastly, on a forth sheet write out your key cost /effort lines. Include time & effort as a cost. Look at each in turn with a new strategic lens, in light of what you have learnt from your customers. For each, think of options to reduce, stop, outsource. Better, faster, cheaper. Again, the ore ideas the better. Don’t judge. Don’t filter.
As difficult as it is right now, with so much fear and uncertainly, try to remember that constraint breads the best creativity. As Ernst Rutherford said “we have no money, so we have to think”. Go well, go gently, to others, to your staff, to yourself