Chances are that if you were stressed about your business before the pandemic, that stress is greater now. If you weren’t stressed before, you may have experienced it the past several months.
I experienced my own elevated stress and have worked with many professional and business services firm owners to mitigate theirs.
Now that we in many parts of the US are seeing the worst in our rearview mirrors, it’s worth taking a bit of time to look for a few tips on how to recover from this stress. April is Stress Awareness Month, but as all of us know, stress can occur in all the months.
You can read tons of ideas on health and wellbeing websites about how to ameliorate the physical and mental effects of stress. My focus is on how to tackle the stresses a business has experienced.
What are these stresses?
Your firm may have experienced one, a few, or many of these. The first step to reducing stress is to recognize them.
- Low sales
- Reduced profit
- Falling bank balances
- Difficulty collecting Accounts Receivables
- Reduced services offered
- Tightly packed schedules to get more done with fewer resources
- Far too much time on your hands
- Difficulty being innovative and creative
- Clients reducing their use of your services due to their own pandemic related issues
- Confusion or difficulty accessing financial resources available for firms
- Ineffective Marketing
- Networking less effective than you’re used to
Stress experts recommend choosing to improve one or two stress-causing issues at a time. Trying to fix everything all at once will add to your stress, not alleviate it.
When working with firm owners these past months, we’ve successfully applied this advice by taking these steps:
- List all the specific stressors affecting your firm.
- Prioritize the stressors by impact on the company’s revenue. Why? Without revenue, it’s hard to do anything else. Restaurants have made this abundantly clear with their dedication to take out meals. Get revenue in the door, doing whatever you have to do, and then you can address other issues.
- Related to revenue is collecting receivables. Make sure your sales process includes payment upfront or upon delivery of the services. This is common practice in the many health care industries, and it should be expected by professional and business services clients as well.
If your first thought is “We can’t do this because we don’t know how much time a project or service will take,” you might want to think about non-time based pricing models.
- Also related to increasing revenue is to focus intensively on existing customers and clients. They are by far the most likely to resume doing business with you. The statistics will blow your mind:
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5% to 20%.
- 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers.
- For most industries, the average customer retention rate is below 20%.
- Loyal customers spend 67% more than new ones.
- 82% of companies agree that customer retention is cheaper than acquisition.
What’s much lower on the list?
- This is not the ideal time to aggressively seek new buyers. Remember that everyone is stressed and will gravitate to what’s familiar to them. If they don’t already know your firm, let them go for now.
- Networking with the purpose of developing new referral sources is also less helpful for relieving stress. You many not realize the stress that’s part of developing a relationship with someone for the purpose of gaining referrals from them. There will be time to resume networking after we all agree that people are past their pandemic stress.
- Doubling down on “the way we do things.” This is somewhat counterintuitive in that there’s comfort to the way you’ve always done things that could relieve your stress. But the opposite point of view is that nothing is the way it used to be and insisting upon the way we’ve always done things will cause you to miss your chance to recover.
What are you doing to relieve your business stress? Give us a shout if you’re not sure. You’ll walk away with a few personalized tips. Text STRESS to 703-801-0345.