The initial week of self-isolating and social distancing as a preventative measure against the spreading of the Coronavirus have many small businesses panicked about how they are going to continue to operate, and even more importantly, how they will be able to stay profitable. Well all hope is not lost and in this post I want to provide some tips and tools to help keep your business afloat during the Coronavirus.
Accept Payments & Donations Online
If your business isn’t already online, than this crisis has no-doubt helped to convince of the importance of having at the least an online presence for your business. However, even that isn’t enough in an era where most customers are expecting to be able to purchase your products or book your services through your website.
There are several different options for accepting online payments, the most popular of which is PayPal. For many years PayPal has offered online payment processing for 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Although many people view PayPal as something used by individuals and not by businesses, they do have a Business platform which offers some great features.
Stripe is one of my favorites, although it takes a bit of setting up to connect your bank account. When it is ready it works seamlessly and funds are deposited directly into your bank account the following business day. The other great part about it is that you can accept payments directly on your site without having to send people to a third-party page which can be a little clunky. The fee is 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction just like PayPal.
For Churches and other religious institutions who depend solely on collections each Sunday, online donations should be made as quick and painless as possible. When most of these religious institutions have taken to live streams and online broadcasts it is essential to be able to share a link where people can make an online donation. For this I recommend DonorBox, which makes it easy to create an embeddable “box” for donations and streamlines the process making it intuitive and fast for users.
One of the best features about DonorBox is that it provides a way to send tax information to donors in bulk at the beginning of the year. It integrates with Stripe for payment processing, so you pay their fee plus 1.5% per transaction if you collect $1,000 or more in a month, otherwise it’s free.
If you’re working as a freelancer or your business has a B2B focus, then I certainly recommend you look into QuickBooks. Not only can you send invoices and receive payments, but it can manage all of your business finances. They even offer Bookkeeping services, automatically process 1099s to contractors, and automate the payroll process. I use QuickBooks for my business and highly recommend it for all of my clients.
Stay in Touch with Your Customers
Many small business rely on repeat business from their regulars and should spend a good deal of time reaching out to their customers in order to nurture the relationship. There are various ways to go about this, but I recommend the following.
Get to Know Your Customers with Typeform
Sending out a survey is a great way to get know your customers or potential customers more intimately. However, do it in a way that’s beautiful, conversational, and easy with Typeform. You can set up an online survey or questionnaire that invites interaction. They have some great question types including VideoAsk which is the best way to get up close and personal.
Prices range from free to $75/month based on the features you require.
Nurture the Relationship with MailChimp
Running a nurture campaign was never easier than with MailChimp and their email automations. Many people are familiar with MailChimp as simply an email list management tool, but the platform has grown and matured into an all-in-one marketing platform providing everything from social posts and digital ads, to landing pages and printed postcards. Yeah, you can actually send out a physical post card to your subscribers as a personal touch to let them know you care.
Some of these features are only available in their paid plans, but even the free plan provides a great way to get your feet wet in the world of online marketing.
Interact with Your Customers on Social Media
Of course, if you want to interact directly with your customers you should meet them where they’re at which for most of us these days means social media. Each business has a different demographic and each demographic uses different social media platforms so you’ll need to do a little research if you haven’t already done so, in order to find the right platform for your niche. Nevertheless, this is something that shouldn’t just be handed off to some intern, it needs to be taken seriously if you want to be taken seriously.
Communicate with Your Team
For many people who aren’t accustomed to working remotely themselves or managing a team of remote workers, this time can be increasingly challenging. However, there are some truly amazing tools that make working with a team, whether remote or not, an absolute breeze.
Send Messages with Slack
For inter-office communication, email can be cumbersome and a phone call disruptive, but an instant message via Slack is quick and to the point. Many teams rely on Slack for communicating with coworkers and the prices range from free to $12.50 per user per month. Get the mobile app and you’ll be connected whenever you’re on the go.
Conference Calls & Video Calls with Zoom
Being able to see your coworkers and clients face-to-face helps make the best of this difficult situation. Most people are familiar with Zoom, but in case you’ve been living under a rock, I’ll share a bit about it. Simply, Zoom provides the best and most affordable provider of Video Conferencing. Their free plan allows up to 100 participants and the paid plans provide even more features. So definitely consider them for your staff meetings or client calls.
Organize Your Workflow with Asana
If there was only one app I could recommend it would have to be Asana. It just honestly provides everything you need to organize and manage your work whether you’re a freelancer with many clients or a large team with many initiatives. Asana is my base of operations on a daily basis. Set up teams, projects, and tasks with comments, priorities, due dates, and everything else you could possibly imagine. You can use it for free to get the feel for things, but their paid features are really what make it such a powerful tool.
Keep Yourself in Business
These are just some of the great tools and services I use on a daily basis while running my business, but there are more. For example, I recommend Adobe Sign for getting digital signatures on contracts and proposals and HubSpot CRM for managing sales until a lead or prospect becomes a paying client.
Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions about any of the services mentioned above, in fact I’d love to help get you better acquainted.