How to make key business decisions in an uncertain environment? – Slingshot

Beany looks after 1,000’s of small businesses all across New Zealand. We are working between our clients, the banks, the IRD and business advisers to help them navigate these scary waters. This three part series attempts to build a framework for decisions which can be applied to your specific situation.

So, part three, how to slingshot out of Covid 19 with a better business.

In Beany, we are trading as normal as we are 100% online and work remotely. However, the future is uncertain and now is the time, we believe, to make sure you have a good product/market fit and that your business stays in the forefront of your customer’s mind. This is very sector specific and you may need to consider product/market fit rather than marketing or vice versa. But everyone should be thinking about either one, or both of these topics.

Product/Market Fit

Does your product or service ‘fit’ your market? Does it ‘fit’ the new market conditions?

To determine whether you have a good product/market fit, you can ask these questions:

  • Do I have a really detailed understanding of my target market? Can I specify what type of person buys my product?
  • Do I understand exactly why they buy what I sell? Do I understand the problem I’m solving for them?

These two questions can be very straightforward such for as a plumber in Napier:

  • Target Market – domestic customers with leaking water appliances in a 20km radius of Napier CBD
  • Problem – wet floors

Or they can be very complex questions to answer.

Then consider your product or service and think about how it ‘fits’ your customers. The better it ‘fits’, the more customers you will have. The fit (for the plumber) could be as simple as:

  • Being available within 1 hour
  • Being friendly and honest

Everyone assumes that the plumber can plumb so that is not enough to achieve a good market fit.

This is a topic which can be easy and understood in a few lines or you can study it for the rest of your life! For more complex products and services, there is a great youtube on this by Dan Olsen which goes into a lot of detail! It is specifically for software design, but covers a lot of basic product/market fit information as well.

This is an absolute must if you are designing any kind of online product.

Keeping your Brand Alive

It’s tempting during tough times to pull back your advertising and marketing spend. Many businesses do this, which has the huge advantage that if you decide to keep your spend up – you suddenly have more attention on your brand.

There will be a significant brand, and advertising opportunities available at discounted prices or with much wider reach as many businesses reduce placements as a knee-jerk reaction releasing advertising inventory.

This will hopefully be a short term shock to our economy so plan to exit this period with more market share than you entered it. You may choose to slow your marketing spend down, but keep something going, if you can.

“What do you think about a recession?” he responded, “I thought about it and decided not to participate.” Sam Walton, Walmart

Finally, think about the slingshot out of Covid 19. What kind of business do you want?

Summary of How to make key business decisions in an uncertain environment?

  • Survive – do what you need to do to still be in business in 18 months
  • Stay Sane – Look after yourself and your people
  • Prepare to Thrive – Keep an eye on the future

If you’re making a decision, make sure you’re doing one of these above 3 things.