Leading lessons for small business on pivoting online

Shopify, online retail, online business
Modern laptop computer with online shopping store graphic and open sign on wooden table over blur of rush hour with cars and road in city, Business internet shop online concept

Who, like me, has had their fill of “unprecedented times” and “pivots”? And yet in many ways, it remains the best description of our daily experience.

What’s struck me is the sheer scale of change small businesses are now confronting. For many, going through COVID-19 has been like seeing The Matrix for the first time. For those who have not seen the classic dystopian film, Morpheus explains to Neo that many people just aren’t ready to see the Matrix because it’s a reality so vastly different from the one they’re comfortable with.

During these last few months, I have worked very closely with accounting professionals globally and also from my own local community to navigate this strange and unwanted reality. In particular, many small businesses are struggling with the challenge of having to move their businesses online for the first time. I know how confronting this can be at first. I went through the same thing years ago.

Today, through trial and error and a lot of perseverance, I’ve been fortunate enough to grow my business to serve 120 clients using no paid advertising at all. I’m proud to be able to command the value I know I deserve and I’m passionate about educating and coaching accountants and bookkeeping professionals to do the same.

If you’re a small business in this boat, here are a few things I learnt along the way:

1. Be clear about what you stand for

Clients coming to your website want to know how you’re going to help them and may be overwhelmed if offered a bevy of services that baffle them. Hone in on who you are, what you stand for and the unique value you bring.

2. Identify who you want to work with

No-one likes working with clients who don’t respect them or see little value in what they offer. Not to mention that trying to offer everything to everyone raises the risk of spreading yourself too thin and wasting valuable time on clients that don’t suit your business.

Once you’ve identified what you stand for (step 1), it becomes easier to clarify who you want to work with and to be more targeted in how you describe your offering on your website and in your marketing.

3. Take a systematic approach to marketing

Generating new client leads takes time and requires having a system and process in place, just like you do when servicing a client. One networking event or LinkedIn post is unlikely to bring in new business.

By taking tips #1 and #2 and using them to create thoughtful, considered and consistent content online, you can start to attract the attention of clients you actually want to work with.

4. Keep on top of the basics

In the meantime, it’s important not to forget the business basics that will keep your company on track as you grow. Cashflow is still king and tools such as Intuit QuickBook’s Cashflow Planner will give you visibility to help you stay on track of your expenses and income so you can make informed financial decisions.

Making your move online a success means more than just a website. By applying a systematic approach to the way you advertise and communicate online while maintaining focus on your core financials in the background you’ll save time and money and increase your chances of growing your business in these difficult times.

Melanie Power, Founder, Program Kickstart for Bookkeepers, www.melaniepower.com