From Band Aids to Business Plans
Emily Galash (00:00:01):
So today’s topic is from bandage to business plan. This is really about getting away from this idea that we have to react with some quick bandaid plan and move forward to thinking strategically for what we would consider the new normal. This is part of livelihood, Northwest special topic learning series that we offer every Monday and have since March or April, uh, in response to the needs that we’ve seen in the business community, specifically due to COVID, but also ongoing in this digital, uh, interaction.
Emily Galash (00:00:44):
So who is lovely on Northwest? I know many of you are familiar, but just in case you are joining us for the first time. Uh, our mission is to foster business, sustainability and growth for historically underserved entrepreneurs. Within local communities, we provide exceptional business development support services to promote lifelong learning, empowerment, and positive economic impact. You can learn more us on our website. We’ll get that later today,
Emily Galash (00:01:13):
We’re going to be covering this strategic planning process. So this is going to be high level, and we’ll talk about a lot of The things you need to be keeping in mind when starting this new planning phase. First for my to talk about how does zoom in case you are unfamiliar with the tools on zoom. We’ll talk a little bit about the entrepreneur and what makes you know, what makes an entrepreneurs special and resilient and, uh, capable of coming back from what might have just been a really difficult time, or might be a difficult time. Currently, we’ll revisit your why, why are you doing what you’re doing? Why are you in business? The importance of goals. We’ll touch on that as well. And then we’ll talk about beginning the strategic planning process. We’ll talk about some new trends That consumers are exhibiting. Some behaviors That are very different since the world went highly digital. And as a result of COVID, there are some information and some interesting insights that have been uncovered that we can take a look at that will help you with your strategic planning. We’ll talk about getting clear on your value to your customers, building your skillsets, and then we’ll finish up with some tools and resources to help you get started. And some Q and a. So let’s talk about what an entrepreneur is for a minute. I really want to go back to the basics. So we kind of remember why, why we do what we do. So what is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of risks, but also enjoying most of the rewards. The entrepreneur is commonly seen as an innovator, a source of new ideas, goods, services, and businesses, or procedures to solve a problem.
Emily Galash (00:03:15):
I’m just going to leave that up for a moment. See how that resonates. If that feels like that’s you, if that feels like why, what drives you to be an entrepreneur or a small business owner? So at the core of the entrepreneur, there’s, there’s these common themes. And one is freedom. We’ve heard that a lot where you don’t want to be working for someone else. You don’t want to be working hard every day, just so someone else can pay their bills. Um, you don’t want to be told what to do. You want to be able to make your own decisions about your business and choose your path forward. There’s a freedom that comes with being an entrepreneur. There’s also control where you are able to make those decisions on a daily basis and decide where you go. But there’s also risks because if those decisions don’t pan out, if there’s a global pandemic, if there’s a economic recession or a collapse, there is risk and you will receive the burden of most of that risk.
Emily Galash (00:04:36):
Um, what’s not on here is the award, uh, which I think also plays into freedom and control, but also the fact that you might benefit significantly from your inputs in your time and your resources. I wanted to stop for a moment and I cannot see the chat, but does anyone else have anything that they’d like to add to what they feel is at the core of the entrepreneur? You can go ahead and put it in the chat. And I would ask one of the livelihood staff members to maybe chime in and read it, or you can just unmute yourself and chime in. I’ll I’ll leave a minute. If anyone wants to add to what they feel like, is that the core of the entrepreneur And it’s okay. If not, I can’t see the chat. So, um, if we’re still thinking that’s, that’s fine as well,
Gavin D’Avanther (00:05:36):
nothing new in the chat. Great.
Emily Galash (00:05:43):
So what am I getting at here? What happens when a business struggles or even a sale? And I think we can say that a lot of, a lot of our businesses have been struggling lately in, in some way or another. Uh, the very new circumstances we’re finding ourselves in. And the, the challenge is that is very difficult to separate business success and failure from personal success and failure. As an entrepreneur, we often try, we tie ourselves to the results of our business emotionally, and we, we connect that to our sense of self-worth, which, which isn’t necessarily an accurate thing. Many, many people can be very successful, smart, kind, good, whatever people, and still have a business that fails and vice versa. So we want to start peeling that back and remembering that the outcomes of your business don’t necessarily mean that that is your fault or that it is your cause. There are some things that are out of our control, but we can plan to try to make, go as well as possible and get on that path for success. My computer is working very hard right now. All right. Um, so let’s start with revisiting your, why, why does your business exist? What problem does it solve? What caused you to get into this business in the first place?
Emily Galash (00:07:41):
Think about that because as we move forward with the strategic plan for this new normal, it is important to remember why it exists, because there may be problems that your business is set up to solve that don’t exist anymore, or it might be that there are new problems that your business would be very capable of solving. We just need to identify those. Uh, as an entrepreneur, you are a problem solver that is at the core of the entrepreneur, and that is why businesses exist in some ways is to solve a problem, to provide a solution to a need in the market. So using those skills that you have as a problem solver, we’re going to apply those when creating this new strategic plan, The ability to choose your own path again, when things are challenging, you still have the power to make choice, to make change, and we’re going to use that power to plan for the future. So again, this is, this is a question that if you would like to chime in, uh, that would be great. Uh, if anyone was in business in 2008 to 2012, so that, that past recession is there anyone on the call here who would in business during that time, you can put it in the chat or you can unmute and chime in.
Emily Galash (00:09:24):
And it’s very possible that that’s not, I mean, that was, that was eight, 12 years ago. That was a long time ago. Does not seem that long ago. A couple of people who said yes, great. You mean Colleen? Yeah. Yeah. You know, that was another really challenging time. And new opportunities came up out of that. You might’ve had to shut down some parts of your business or make changes, but you solve problems. You moved through that and you’re still here in business today. So I think that that’s just kind of a reminder that you can get through this and that we can plan to get out of these challenging times to use a much overused phrase. Um, and then also for those of you who were not yet in business in 2008 to 2012, if you are now, it might be because new opportunities came out of that recession.
Emily Galash (00:10:34):
I know that for livelihood. And then we were, um, the business outreach program. We had a surge in new startup businesses coming to us, looking for support during that 2008 to 2012 times, because people saw new opportunities. They saw opportunities to make choices for themselves and start a new business. When something like a stable job, wasn’t so stable anymore. They saw new opportunities in the recovering market that they wanted to jump in on. There was maybe some businesses that might’ve gone out of business, and there was opportunity in that market and in that industry to fill in and, um, and meet that demand that existed, that those other businesses were not able to meet. And they were not able to adapt.
Speaker 3 (00:11:22):
You have a comment, it says, yeah, but it was a financial crisis only now is financial social and sanitary. It hit me much more.
Emily Galash (00:11:34):
Yeah. I, I absolutely see that point. And, you know, I think that no two financial crisises ever look alike in history, at least modern history. And this is definitely an, a challenge that nobody was prepared for our government wasn’t prepared for, um, certainly
Emily Galash (00:11:54):
Not business owners or consumers. Uh, so there’s, there’s new challenges that we may not have the answers to right now, but there will be new opportunities as well. So just, I recognized that comment and I wanted to bring, you know, bring the attention that we need to start looking for these opportunities, even if we don’t see them yet. And they might be where you may have to revisit things that were previously off the table. It might be revisiting decisions you’ve made in the past because it didn’t make sense or it wasn’t right for your business, but they might be right now. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that later. Are there any other comments Kiana that, um, that we could leave space for?
Speaker 4 (00:12:44):
Yes. Uh, there’s another comment. It says only $45 in income since March another challenge.
Emily Galash (00:12:56):
Well, yeah, that is, that is really extreme. And I think that, you know, each individual is going to face different situations. Um, and as, as, uh, as a whole, there are changes happening in the industry. I think there’s some exciting trends, but when I talk about them, it’s just about finding what is going on and where can we find that, um, the, the customers, the opportunities, the business opportunities, the, the areas where we can then stabilize and potentially even grow or be prepared for growth. Um, but as for an individual situation, um, maybe we can chat more in the Q and a about solutions to anyone’s situation on the line I want to, or is there any more, are there any more comments counter?
Emily Galash (00:13:55):
I don’t see any. Okay, great. Um, I want to point out the advantages of being small for a moment. I’m going to make the assumption that most of the entrepreneurs that are either on this live call or watching the live stream after the fact is that, um, you’re probably a small business. Uh, the United States government to fund small businesses, 500 or fewer employees, and there’s a few other definitions out there. We would define that as much, much smaller, maybe even a micro enterprise, but the advantage of being a small business is that you can change and adapt much more quickly than a large corporation. And yes, large businesses have more financial resources. They might have more, um, uh, uh, HR, human resource power as well, but their decision-making the stakeholders that they have to answer to when making decisions slows things down. And when they have a lot of, when it’s a very large business is also can be very large losses, small businesses have an advantage where you can react more quickly in many situations to trends and changes. And that might give you a temporary advantage right now in the short-term. If we can identify those opportunities quickly,
Speaker 4 (00:15:25):
There was one more comment that just had came in and it says the hard thing for us is the future uncertainty planning to pivot to the new normal. And definitely are assuming that we can resume some amount of previous normal sometime soon.
Emily Galash (00:15:43):
Yeah. Um, and I’ll, I’ll touch on that as well. Uh, when I get to some assumptions that we’ll make going forward, uh, I know that the most powerful thing in business would be to see the future. And that’s really that’s especially, um, desirable right now to be able to see that into the future. Um, I don’t know if this is a good thing or bad thing, but it does mean that we’re all on a level playing field and, you know, Nike can’t see the future any better than you can see the future as a small business. And so understanding that we can, if we’re proactive about trying to learn about the situation and move forward, we can create a plan that will help us get through, but that comment we should return to in the Q and a as well, um, leaning on your strengths. So being a small business owner means that your strengths are probably also the same as your business’s strengths, where you Excel is probably where your business is good at. So really leaning on your strengths to be able to pull yourself out of the situation or make the best of the situation that you can, um, is going to be really key. And we’ll, again, we’ll talk more about skillset and capabilities later, and a few tools that you can use to be able to identify those strengths and, and how you might be able to leverage them.
Emily Galash (00:17:28):
Who’ve talked about the why. So where, where do we begin with the strategic planning process? Of course, of course it begins with school, right? And I’m sure that everyone on this call just a few months ago in January sat and made some goals for their business for themselves. And then we just, we have to scrap all of that because everything has changed and we have to do this again. But the reason I want to bring it up is because we’re not just looking at our business goals, we’re also looking at our personal goals and it might even be better to start with personal goals because sometimes your personal goals and your business goals are not aligned, and this can bring us back to why are you in business? It might have something to do with a work-life balance or your scheduling. So you can spend more time with family, or you might have long-term goals to sell or to retire, something like that.
Emily Galash (00:18:39):
And based on your personal goals, you might have very different business goals. Hey, Kevin, if you would like to add to this, um, section of the goals, if there’s anything you’d like to add really important things is finding the difference between making a to-do list and setting a goal and setting a goal is not a single task setting. A goal is some is a benchmark that you want to achieve by a certain date. So setting a goal it’s really important to look further out the next today or next week or next month, and really set some accomplishments that you want to do. Not just, I want to get my calendar updated, but what is the purpose of that? And what is the purpose of that task? Oh, I want to get my calendar updated so that I can be more responsive to my customers. So maybe your goal is to be more responsive to your customers and have multiple ways they can contact you.
Emily Galash (00:19:37):
So that would lead to a list of tasks, but it wouldn’t be its own list. It isn’t a list of tasks. It is a list of things you want to achieve, like rungs on a ladder that you want to actually build towards. So really thinking about the difference between goal setting and making it to do lists, and it’s hard to separate those things cause we make to-do lists every day and it feels like we’re setting a goal of what we want to do. But when we talk about business goals, we really talk about, um, larger achievements in longer time spans. Um, and it’s, it’s a certainly a process that can be very productive every year, but it’s certainly something that’s going to be super fun. Now, many of these tools that we’re talking about this is, this is again, a high level overview of all of the things to consider when beginning that process of building a strategic plan to move forward. And we can go deeper into any of these topics or tools and future future sessions, such as a goal planning session, potentially with breakout rooms to really help identify what are those goals and separate them from what are the tasks. And so there’s
Emily Galash (00:20:48):
Not, um, confusion there. And we can really identify where we’re trying to move this business forward. Um, but today we’re just talking about it in a high level,
Speaker 3 (00:21:00):
Emily Galash (00:21:04):
So we’re making some assumptions moving forward here in this presentation. And they might see the same assumptions that you’re making about what the future holds. So I wanted to go over them briefly. The first assumption is that up until now, you have been reacting, you’ve been operating reactively to the changing world. There hasn’t been much other choice. Something happens. You have to react, change, adapt, but what that, what happens is that doesn’t give you any time to plan. Granted, there are a lot of things we don’t know and make it very challenging to plan around, but I would also imagine you just haven’t had the head space or time or even enough minimal information in order to begin making that plan. So today I’d really like to have this be kind of a kickoff of moving away from completely reactive operating, putting out the fires as they come up, responding to the governor’s new rules of the day. And then also began forward thinking about what does it look like in six months or a year or two years?
Emily Galash (00:22:25):
So the second assumption is that we’re not going to have a break from this COVID influenced reality for one to two years. That’s a number that we’ve seen in many places with a lot of people emphasizing that two year Mark. Uh, I think there’s a lot of reliance on the ability to find a vaccine, which is also an assumption that we will find a vaccine that is safe to distribute to the majority of the population that will be effective. But we need to assume that we’re in this state for one to two years can be considered long-term, uh, when things are moving so quickly.
Emily Galash (00:23:12):
So another assumption is that we are not going to be in a state of fully open nor fully closed. As far as business goes. During that time, there’s going to be some hybrid in between this entire time that we’re going to need to take into consideration and plan for that. We’re not expecting another full shutdown. It doesn’t seem like COVID is mutating and suddenly wiping out a mask. It’s not becoming more dangerous. It’s as dangerous as it has always been. Even if it’s more widespread, it is not increasing in danger. Um, and so we kind of, we now know that a little bit more about the disease. So that’s another piece of information that we can kind of store in the back of our minds. Um, but we’re, we’re not going to fully open. We’re not going to be 100% open, like it was February. Um, there’s going to be somewhere in between and that might move. That might move a little closer to close and might move a little closer to open. Um, but it will exist somewhere in between for that one to two year time period.
Emily Galash (00:24:27):
And the final assumption is that there is no new there’s no going back to the things, the way things were. There’s no returning to how things were in February or some businesses were already feeling that impact in February. So we can go three year ago. We’re not going to return to that ever. Um, there’s going to be a new normal that we returned to even two years out. And the reason for this is this, this disease has fundamentally changed the way that the world, that businesses, technology and customers all behave and interact, and this is a permanent change. So that’s another assumption we’re making here. And we’ll talk more about what are those things that have changed, particularly with the customers and just a moment here.
Speaker 4 (00:25:19):
And we have another comment in the chat. Speaking of the new normal and things are changing, it says later, please help me to see if I can switch my cultural dance classes and performances to registered as registered as a small business, to online motivational workshops to financially survive.
Emily Galash (00:25:41):
Yeah, I think, um, we can return to that in the Q and a. I think that, um, I w I love the comments and the input, and if it’s, if it’s specific to the slide, I’d love to hear that live, especially if I’m, you know, asking for a specific feedback or input, but I think that would be a wonderful, uh, chat question to address in the Q and a, and, and hopefully that entrepreneur’s able to hang on just a little bit longer until we get to the Q and a where we can talk more about, um, individual circumstances and needs. And, and talk about that a little bit more if that’s okay.
Emily Galash (00:26:24):
All right. So, um, Oh, you know, I have skipped one of my lovely little slides probably cause my computer’s lagging a little bit. Let’s see if I can go back to it. It was just kind of pretty, so I want to show you, this is the one, um, strategic planning, little pictures will pop up. Here we go. Um, how will you adapt to the new normal? So there’s the three phases that we’ll enter into. And the first is the gathering information. And I’ve been hearing, we hear from entrepreneurs, we see it ourselves. We hear in the comments, we don’t have the information that we need to even begin planning. And we don’t, we certainly don’t want to waste our time just making a plan. That’s not based in any kind of reality because our time is valuable and precious, and we don’t just want to plan and have it be irrelevant in a week.
Emily Galash (00:27:23):
Um, so I, I understand that that’s you’re there. So what the first phase is, is gathering any information that we can to then make this plan. Uh, and we’ll, we’ll start here in this call today. We will talk about some information that is available and then the next step is to make a plan. And this plan may not be a 20 page business plan. That’s probably not the right approach in this situation. It might be something a little bit more, um, adaptable, flexible, quick. It might be something like a, um, you know, a business planning, business plan, canvas, or some other tool we can talk about later that allows you to basically look at some scenarios of the way that your business could look moving forward and seeing how that business model plays out without having to spend the time coming up with 10, 20 pages of information, um, and filling out some kind of lengthy business plan. So we’ll talk more about that in a minute. And then that third phase is to take action so that you can implement the plan quickly, get ahead of your competitors, get ahead of the large slowed businesses and start building back your customer base. Some market share and potentially emphasis in the industry.
Emily Galash (00:28:52):
That was my slide that I skipped. Thanks for bearing with me. So first we want to gather information. So there are some trends happening within supply chains right now. And I want to talk a lot about local, and I know we hear local. It’s always been something we always want to be local. It sounds great, but there’s some new reasons that you might want to look at your supply chain and seek some local suppliers. Um, first of all, if you do not have backup suppliers, if you, if you purchase materials or ingredients or supplies from anyone you want to make sure you do have some backup suppliers, because there are, there have been there currently is, and there will continue to be disruptions in the supply chain and maybe your supplier hasn’t had any disruption yet, but it is possible that it might happen at any point, which would greatly impact your business.
Emily Galash (00:29:56):
So you want to be proactive in seeking out other alternative suppliers. Maybe they’re a little bit more expensive, maybe they’re not. Um, but now is the time to look for that so that if one supplier has a disruption, then you know, where you can go to get your materials and keep your business on track. And so that brings me back to the local supply chain. Local supply chains are less likely to break down, and that is mostly because there’s less distance that those items have to travel. There’s less times that needs to change hands and you might even have a direct relationship with the producer. And so we, we all, we love local. It’s very popular buzzword before COVID, but now it’s also very practical. If what you are, what you need, if it is supplied locally, it might be a good opportunity to look into that supplier and also reevaluate the potential suppliers in the area.
Emily Galash (00:30:58):
There are lots of businesses who might have not been a local supplier, but where they used to send their items where they used to deliver their materials might have an issue. They may not have that revenue stream anymore, and they might be looking for other revenue streams. Uh, I just, I just talked to a business owner yesterday that I met out on a walk, who said that she had to pivot her business model, um, back to a wholesale model because she had, uh, closed down her two locations. And so she wasn’t really emphasizing wholesale, but because she closed down her two locations, she then is now actively increasing that revenue stream, which means she’s now looking for people to force her, her product. Um, so things might be changing for everyone. And you want to reevaluate things that you might have already evaluated in the past and decided that that was not an opportunity because there could be an opportunity.
Emily Galash (00:31:58):
Now, if you already forced locally. And I know there’s a lot of folks who do source locally, or who have some pieces of their supply chain or locally, um, we’ll get where you can pick up customers from businesses who did not force locally. Um, there, there might be supply chain disruptions from a competitor because they were sourcing from across the country or in another country. This is where we’ve also seen a lot of disruption. This, if you force something from another country, there might be a lot of fallout where they cannot meet the demands of their customers. And so there could be opportunities to pick up customers that you did not previously have because your supply chain isn’t packed because you haven’t or from locally. So what other information? So one of the really, really relevant pieces here are customer trends. So today I’ve lumped these into three main categories. The customer these days now has new trending demands for that are health-related.
Emily Galash (00:33:14):
So how will you address customer health concerns on an ongoing basis? I know we were probably all sick of hearing about this mask rule and this six foot distance, you know, regulation. We probably are all very aware of those pieces now, but how will you continue to address these concerns? Um, there’s another example of, um, a plumber I’d have a plumber come out just a week ago. And because of COVID, they’ve changed a lot of things. One of the things they did is they took all my payment information over the phone and did an over the phone pre-authorization for payment. Um, then they sent me a text that gave me the rundown on how they were going to keep a distance, what PPE gear they were using, how they sanitize and how they transitioned from client to client. They also let me know what expectations they have of me, of, they want me to not get closer than succeed and things like that.
Emily Galash (00:34:21):
Um, they sent me a photograph of the person who would be coming to my house, and this is all done in text within minutes of a phone call. And that type of that type of communications around the health concerns to customers makes them feel so much better than if they have questions. Are they doing this right? What are they doing to sanitize? I hope they’re not just going through job to job and, um, you know, potentially contaminating everyone that day. Um, so even if your, you know, you have barriers up, you have the dots of six foot distance, whether you have a physical space, or if it’s someone that you go to someone’s house to perform a service of ghosts, that location, how just think about how you can increase that communication to your customer to ease their health concerns. It’s likely the customers will permanently have more health concerns, um, about how businesses are handling, um, cleanliness in all aspects that used to just be really restaurants and maybe healthcare. And now it’s the plumber. Um, so really think about how can you communicate what you are doing to keep your customers safe, your staff safe on an ongoing basis. So the next one to two years, you know, those dots on the floor are going to wear off with people walking on them all the time. Um, is there more you can do,
Emily Galash (00:36:00):
I want to talk about communication as well? So the way that that customers are communicating is changing communication has gone almost entirely online. There’s almost all communication can be advertising. It can be customer support. It can be, um, you know, spreading the word about your, your organization, but everything is really going online. And that’s not likely to go back to how it was before. We’re likely to continue to communicate online even more than we did before the pandemic, once the pandemic is over. Um, if you’re not currently communicating with your customers online, you might need to think about how can you develop a communication strategy that does incorporate that. We’re going to talk a little bit more about that as well. When we talk about some trends that are happening and some data, um, it’s also becoming more intimate, this online communications, um, you know, being on that, on a call like this on a webinar we can see into each other’s houses or, or green screens. Um, it’s more intimate than it has been before.
Emily Galash (00:37:20):
And so there’s a different level of connection that you can build with your customer. So there’s an opportunity here as well. And think about how have you adapted your communications with your loved ones since COVID with the, your friends or family, maybe who you can’t see as often as you did before, are you calling them more often? Are you texting them more often or sending them emails? Are you sending them photos? Are you, how are you engaging with them? Are you talking to them on Instagram or Facebook? Think about how you’ve adapted your strategy to communicate with your, your friends and family, and think about that. Your customers need a new strategy as well, because you want to keep in touch with them too.
Emily Galash (00:38:11):
And the third category I want to talk about is buying trends. So consumers are changing their purchasing habits very rapidly right now, but we have been able, there is data that has been collected while customers may be visiting stores less often or buying more at once in stores. So if you do have a place that’s open and that can be a restaurant, it could be a retail space. If you have a brick and mortar that is open, think about how can you facilitate this trend? How can you encourage customers to buy more in order for them to limit their excursions out of the house? I know I’m buying two bags of cat food at once instead of one bag of cat food at once personally, because I don’t want to have to go to the pet store. You know, every three weeks, I want to have to space that out. So you can apply that principle to any brick and mortar. Even restaurants have been doing large box food that can feed the family for a week. Uh, so thinking about that, how can you encourage that behavior and that trend in your business? Um, that online piece is essential. If you’re not able to sell something online, you are not going to be able to benefit from the changing behavior. And you might even start losing significant business and opportunity if you are not able to sell online.
Emily Galash (00:39:52):
Um, also thinking about what are the new needs that your customer has that they didn’t have before they might have new needs in the experience that they’re looking for in an in-person shopping experience, an online shopping experience, or the products or services that they’re buying. So thinking about what new needs your business can provide solutions to because of these new consumer trends. So here’s some data because I know that this is what we, this is the juicy stuff that we want as entrepreneurs. This is what helps us identify how to move forward. So all of this is from Google, who has so much data, right? So online shopping is exploding. 50% of customers are buying the majority of items they need online right now that is a lot of shopping. That’s happening. People are still spending money. They’re spending a lot of money. They’re buying their normal items, but they’re doing it online.
Emily Galash (00:41:01):
So if you think that your household good item or your, um, your product, that’s not, it’s not a face mask. It’s not hand sanitizer. How does this fit in to the, um, for what customers need? They still need the things they needed before, but they’re buying it online. So think about that, which means now your biggest competitor is Amazon, right? Um, thinking about those behaviors and knowing that you need to be competitive online to be successful here, uh, let’s go to the mobile matters here. 76% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps allow them to make purchases quickly. So this goes out to everybody who does have an online store, but they know it’s not really, um, optimized for mobile, or maybe it’s not even optimized for, for desktop, but it exists. It’s really time to revisit that it’s time to make sure that someone can in very few clicks, purchased something from their mobile phones. There’s a, there’s an opportunity that is there and we know about it. So how can we take advantage of that?
Emily Galash (00:42:24):
Uh, so search data. So this site here is, um, Google’s COVID-19 resources for retail. And one thing about Google is of course they know what people are searching for on the internet. They know what people want to buy. And, uh, Thursday, when I looked this up, the top categories for searches that people were looking for that were products to purchase were either related to home improvement, gardening, cooking at home, crafting at home or home workout equipment. So if there’s anything you can offer that can fall into those categories, then you’ll be able to capture that trend of, you know, 600% increase in these searches. Uh, these are very highly searched things right now, and people are purchasing, um, this next piece facilities, nearly 40% of us shoppers say, they can’t find the products they need or want to buy and have bought brands. They wouldn’t normally buy.
Emily Galash (00:43:35):
During this time. This is incredibly important because the person who might be going online that wants to buy that name brand items, they can’t find it it’s sold out. I don’t know how many of you have gone to purchase something online and you want to buy that name. Brand item is just gone because of supply chain issues and all of that. So there are all of these little brands that offer the same thing, but they don’t have the same brand brand name recognition. What customers are willing to try because they don’t have another choice. So even if you’re on somewhere like Amazon and you have a non brand name item, when that brand name goes out of stock, they’re going to buy yours. So thinking about how can you take advantage of this, that people are willing to try new brands because they just can’t find the normal brand that they would typically go to.
Emily Galash (00:44:37):
So this is an opportunity where there’s so much market share out there that might be able to find its way to you, but you have to be ready for it. Your mobile and your online, um, uh, sales platforms need to be ready to go. They have to be friendly to use. You have to have your products located where people are looking for them or have great search engine optimization for people to find you. But these are really strong opportunities here for small businesses. So let’s put this all together. What does that mean? So this isn’t about a short-term solution until your customers return. That’s really key. We’re not looking to just get through this month and then your customers are going to come back. This is about launching a permanent online sales and digital marketing strategy for now in the future. Moving forward to be competitive, it is likely that’s something you might have to adapt. And so before you do that, are you clear about the value to your customer? You know what it is that you’re providing to that customer, as far as the value, what need it meets?
Emily Galash (00:45:56):
Are you communicating that value to your customer? And then is it being heard by your target audience? These are questions and in the chat, we could definitely talk more about these on an individual basis. Cause I think we’ll have, we’ll have a good amount of time for questions and answers. Other questions to ask yourself here are you distributing your products through digital platforms? This could be Amazon, Google shopping, wish Etsy, Shopify fair. If you’re not familiar with any of these things on the list, I would encourage you to Google them and look them up. Um, these are all opportunities. Not all opportunities are right for all businesses, but you should be familiar with what’s out there. And even if let’s say in the past, you’ve considered selling on Amazon, but decided it wasn’t worth it. Now is the time to reconsider that things have changed.
Emily Galash (00:47:03):
Customer habits have changed and the opportunities have changed. So it’s really worth reevaluating all of these things. And you might come to the decision, okay, no, Amazon isn’t right for you, but there is, or Etsy’s not right for you, but Google shopping is, um, but it is going to be important to evaluate these platforms. In addition to your own site that has shopping capabilities on there. That’s another option for digital distribution. And then if you’re a restaurant or a food based business caterer, um, food cart, have you looked into food delivery services, caviar, grub hub door dash, and there’s several others. I just know that I believe it’s these three that are, um, reducing their fees currently for, um, businesses. So it’s a much more possible way to go to use some of these options and you will need to look into those fees, but there are some, uh, restaurant delivery services, at least in, I believe it’s in the state of Oregon. I think it’s wider than Portland that are limiting those fees. It’s a new, a new rule that’s been made, so you can be more profitable. So if you’re on other platforms, you might want to reevaluate what platform you’re on now is really the time to look and see. Maybe you’ve looked at this in the past, but it is time to reevaluate everything.
Emily Galash (00:48:47):
So I made a pretty strong statement about meeting to launch a permanent online sales platform and digital marketing strategy to support that. So this is how you’re moving forward. Do you have the skills or resources to compete in a digital marketplace? So a lot of us will say, no, that sounds great. I’d love to launch all that, but I don’t have the skills and I don’t have all this money to hire someone. Uh, maybe you do have some funds to hire someone if you don’t have the skills. Uh, that would be a, probably a very good investment at this time. Uh, generally so on a business by business case, by case basis, that might be a different, um, you know, some businesses might benefit more than others, but if you do have the funds, it is an investment. It could be very, very good for you to get these systems in place.
Emily Galash (00:49:54):
Now, in order to capture a feature sale, if you want to be doing this on your own, or you don’t have the funds or the resources, you’ll have to build your skillset to become somewhat of an expert in digital marketing, you can build your skillset for free. I know right now I have seen so many advertisements for webinars that are learn how to SEO this work. This webinar’s only a thousand dollars and you think, Oh my gosh, is this what I need to do? Do I have to spend that kind of money to learn these skills? But you actually don’t. There is a wonderful resource that if you don’t already know about, I’m going to tell you now, uh, and this is definitely one of those things you want to write down because the value of this one resource is immense. So lynda.com, that’s L Y N D a.com has wonderful, wonderful resource videos, trainings on how to do pretty much anything you might need in a professional world, even learn to code a website.
Emily Galash (00:51:05):
You could learn how to become a search engine optimization expert. You can learn how to optimize your website for mobile. You can learn how to master Microsoft Excel. There’s so many things you can learn how to do CAD drawings, lots and lots of stuff. And you can access this for free through the Multnomah County library. And I know that other library systems also purchase subscriptions. So lynda.com and I don’t, I don’t know if you’re outside of the Multnomah County library area. I’m not sure if your library system has this, but I know that lots of them do. And if you go through the Multnomah County library, you can do it for your computer remotely. You don’t need to go in anywhere in person. You do need a library card and you can just go to the research tool section, look up the research tools type in lynda.com and you click on it.
Emily Galash (00:52:05):
You’ll be prompted to put in your library card number, and then you have full access to everything that it has to offer. And these are very digestible videos. They might be 10, 12 minutes long, but they’re in a series that build off of each other, just like a curriculum where it will take you from, I know nothing to, I’m an expert in this just by watching these videos. So I really encourage you to look into that. If you have a little extra time on your hands, you need to build your skillset. You can be, um, you know, take advantage of these opportunities by coming out with a strong digital presence and digital marketing strategy to make sure people can find you. I’m gonna go on Emily. Can I chime in a moment? Absolutely. I’ll go back to that slide.
Emily Galash (00:52:58):
I would love to reiterate something that Emily said that customers’ behaviors are changing permanently. Psychologists tell us that it takes an average of 66 days to create a new habit or change an old habit. We’ve been at this for almost twice that long, which means if customers are getting in the habit of making coffee at home, shopping, online, doing takeout, these are habits that are going to continue the future for many, many customers. And so really even when we have a vaccine, even when we have things to protect us better, the customer’s behaviors have changed. They’ve learned new skills. People have learned to have zoom meetings. People have learned to work at home. People have learned to manage goodness sakes had homeschooling while they’re working, but their behaviors are the practicing them for long enough that no matter what happens, we’re all going to be permanently changed by this.
Emily Galash (00:53:53):
And as business owners, we have to really revisit what our customers are feeling and thinking and what behaviors they’re changing, so that we can adapt with them and be there to meet them and understand that take out may just be a higher volume than it’s ever been before going forward and dying in maybe smaller. If I were a restaurant owner right now, I’d be looking at getting a place with a tiny dining room and a big takeout window, because that is probably part of the future. So really thinking about the permanent changes that are going to dramatically impact your business long-term and how to be there to meet your customers. That was a really great point. Emily. I just wanted to come back to that after you went through the tool.
Emily Galash (00:54:35):
Absolutely. Thank you, Kevin. Um, you know, and just like Gavin said, this might mean that you, if you have a restaurant, maybe you look into permitting for building a takeout window in, in your, you can you install a takeout window that’s right up to the sidewalk to be able to deliver your food, to go in an efficient way. So maybe this means you’re looking at solutions that really are longterm and not just opening up your doors and putting a table in between them and using that as a makeshift, uh, take out window. And that’s just kind of one example of other long-term decisions that you might want to start thinking about because as Gavin reiterated, even once this COVID health crisis is over, are our patterns will be changed. There’ll be this residue on our behavior from COVID for a very long time. And we need to be aware of that.
Emily Galash (00:55:40):
So I wanted to go into a few tools and resources of how do you, how do you start strategic planning? We’ve got some information. We know some trends we know where we can go to learn more. We know where we can go to try to build our skillset, but what is it that we need to plan to do? So there are some tools that I recommend you look into, and we’re going to go into some, some of these tools and more depth in future learning sessions. So the first tool is the SWAT analysis. So SWOT analysis, S w O T stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and friends. It’s a strategic planning technique used to help a person or organization identify those things related to business competition or project planning, or in this case, re-imagining your business. After the wake of COVID,
Emily Galash (00:56:44):
It’s a, it’s a tool. Again, we’ll go into more depth, but it is
Emily Galash (00:56:47):
Really great way to identify what are you doing well, what
Emily Galash (00:56:54):
Is on the horizon that you can take advantage
Emily Galash (00:56:56):
Emily Galash (00:56:59):
What are some of the things threatening your business that you just cannot change?
Emily Galash (00:57:03):
And what do you
Emily Galash (00:57:04):
Need to build your skillset or bring into your business that might be weak. And if you want to get ahead before we’re able to offer this as a learning session, you can Google this and you’ll find some online tutorials, but we will be offering this in a future session where we can go,
Emily Galash (00:57:20):
How to do a SWAT analysis, potentially even break into breakout rooms and work on one with you.
Emily Galash (00:57:30):
Another tool is the business model canvas. So this is a template for developing new or documenting existing business models. There’s a lot more information you can read at the link. I’ve put in this, in the, uh, slide
Emily Galash (00:57:44):
Here, but this was imagined before COVID. So it wasn’t specifically designed for this type of crisis, but it can be,
Emily Galash (00:57:56):
Or one of the best tools I think we have to be able to see
Emily Galash (00:58:01):
What can you do with your resources? You have your, your business currently has, how can you reorganize them to be more profitable, to assist customers better, to provide more value to your customers, which will accommodate Bush, assisting your customers better and being more profitable. And this is something that we also are going to go into more depth on the future. Um, special topic learning session, where we can talk all about this and talk about how to apply this to business. The really great thing about this is I believe it’s just one page, which is so much less, um, daunting than trying to create a business plan where you can just sit down with one page, write down a few notes and, and, um, do this in about 15 minutes. And then you can do it again and modify it slightly. And you can really brainstorm on scenarios in a quick way, uh, instead of investing a ton of time and energy into one possible scenario, and then find out that that’s not going to work. So definitely look into business model, canvas. Um, there’s also, you know, there’s a, uh, lean business canvas as well, more for startups. Um, this is more for an existing business, are better suited for an existing business. And then I also want to talk about financial projections, uh, this, I love doing projections, and I know that many people do not, but to me, once I get down to the nitty gritty of the financials, that is where I can see what is it going to take to make this business work? Given my expenses, given what I think I can get for revenue, how am I going to make this business work? Or is it going to work it’s really insightful and can help you as it helps me understand where I’m going to run into trouble over the next 12 months or two years, and allow me to plan for that. Well, in advance to me, the numbers say a lot more than writing some paragraphs in a business plan. The numbers really helped me understand, and I’d hope that they help you understand.
Emily Galash (01:00:20):
And I think that this might be another topic for, uh, a special topic learning session is to talk more about how to do financial projections, because any projections you have done before are going to have to go out the window in the same way that any projections, um, that were created up until about 2008, had to go out the window when the recession hit. Uh, it just was something that those realities no longer applied. And we need to look at this again. And there are some areas of your revenue that you might end up projecting much higher than you expected. As Gavin was saying, you’re a restaurant to go order for probably going to be much higher than you ever anticipated compared to the dine-in sales. So it’s just another tool that, uh, that we can use. And there are, there are many more, but those are the three I wanted to highlight as ways to get started in your strategic planning.