In these unprecedented and challenging times when we fight the onslaught of the COVID-19
pandemic, the nationwide 21-day lockdown may be a cause of concern for many of us entrepreneurs. However, I just wanted to say that we are together in this!
Here are some tips to gear up for a better tomorrow. A 5-pointer regime to make each lockdown day count and be productive. This could be especially effective for those who had started out something in the last year or 2, and we're looking forward to a great Financial Year ahead, including raising investments etc.
1 - Reflect on Your Business
This is an ideal time, as it is also the Financial Year End. You are not stepping out for any events or meetings, nor chasing your manufacturer or retailers! You have plenty of time to review your strategies & decisions of the last financial year 2019–20.
You may want to ponder on some things like:
a) Did you introduce a variant of your product too soon?
b) Did you invest in a lot of human resources too soon?
c) Did you make mistakes on channelizing your marketing spends? These are some examples. You will know your stress points better.
2 - Analyze Those Numbers
Now is your time to become a data-driven business, if you are already not one. Ask the right questions that will help you improve your profit margins. Analyze your data from various aspects like sales, marketing, human resources. You can just use an Excel sheet or feeling fancy, go ahead and try some of the reporting tools like Metabase, Looker for better visualization.
a) Cost Optimization
What have you spent the most last year? Is it your COGS, or salaries or on marketing/advertising? If it is Fixed Capital because you started out recently, there is nothing much you can do, but can you apply that learning and optimize for the next product line.
b) Retailer Performances
What is the average frequency of repeat order and the average value of every order from every retailer that you work with? Is it fair enough to stick to some of those, or are you losing opportunities with the dead stock sitting with some of these retailers?
c) Compare your online vs offline spends
At what point will it be wise enough to spruce up one channel over the other, or what would do to keep both going in parallel? Which digital platform is giving you better results? Do not get intimidated with numbers. it is the reality, and its simple with basic excel or even dashboards from the accounting software you use. It is like a board meeting with yourself!
3 - Plan Ahead
Revisit that business plan. Fine-tune that investor pitch. See what your competitors are up to. It may help to tone down those demand forecasts and hence supply-side spends for the first quarter (Apr-Jun 2020). See who could be your potential angel or set of angel investors- Do enough reading and research on this. If you are looking to raise subsequent rounds of funding, then see how you are ahead in the game compared to others. If you can tweak your product portfolio or assembly line a bit to service impending needs for healthcare, what would it be and does it make economic sense?
4 - Invest in Yourself
There are always skill sets to be added. If you had that financial planning or digital marketing course or any other skillset in mind that will help you/ your business, then look up online education platforms like Coursera & Udemy.
5 - Check in with your stakeholders
Be it your manufacturers, employees, clients, investors: All are dealing with some uncertainties right now. It will be good to check in with them casually and see how you could help them in any way, or vice versa. As long as possible, do not stop or cut down on salaries, especially for the housekeeping staff, security or other people who depend on your business as part of their daily wages. Remember, you would not have been where you are without any of these stakeholders! I hope this simple plan helps you keep the mojo on, and look forward to pos-lockdown period and the next financial year!
Co-Founder | Vendo