You’ve worked hard to get your marketing business to the place it exists today. Whether you’re fairly new to the industry or have been around for decades, each year brings new challenges and liabilities previous ones didn’t. Planning ahead for contingencies helps you navigate the ever-shifting landscape of running your own company.
The landscape of how people conduct business shifted dramatically in the last year or so. In addition, many of your small business clients may not have overcome the pandemic’s challenges, meaning you’ve lost revenue as well. In the 2021 Deloitte Global Resilience Report, 60% of CEOS fear similar disruptions will continue and impact all types of businesses.
If you want to be one of the small business owners who come out on top of the challenges, here are some liabilities to consider this year. We’ll also talk about how to bulletproof your company against them.
1. Lack of Agility
If the pandemic taught business owners anything, it was the importance of being flexible and able to adapt at a moment’s notice. What makes some companies better able to shift focus than others?
Start with your purpose as a brand. Is it too specific? One example of brands changing what they did during the pandemic can be seen in local distilleries. Many stopped making alcohol and shifted to creating hand sanitizer to meet public need.
Train your employees from day one to come up with creative solutions. Give them the freedom to try new things. Then, when you’re faced with a situation where you must adapt, you’ll already have staff who think outside the box.
Prepare: Ask what areas you’re rigid in. How can you become more flexible? Are there any products or services that might suffer during a global crisis? What would you do instead?
2. Outdated Features
When business is slow, it’s easy to let things go, particularly with a brick-and-mortar location. You can lose a lot of customers simply by making a poor first impression. For example, your interior signage can draw people into your store or drive them away.
When you can’t afford a complete remodel, a fresh coat of paint or deep cleaning can help spruce things up.
Prepare: Look at your office through the eyes of your clients. Would you want to come inside? Does it look inviting? What about your online presence? Is your website current and covers modern trends?
3. Legal Liabilities
Every business has some typical legal liabilities. For example, an employee falls and gets hurt on some flooring that was sticking up. You can mitigate many of the risks associated with potential lawsuits by keeping your building in good repair.
You’ll also face litigation over issues you can’t foresee, such as damaging a business’ reputation through poor marketing efforts. No matter how protected you think you are, it’s always possible you’ll face legal action.
Prepare: Secure property insurance to cover slips, falls and other disasters. You can also tag an umbrella policy on most businesses to cover you for unknown issues. Talk to your insurance agent about what policy might work best for you.
4. Reputation Management
At some point in your business’s growth, you likely made a mistake or two. Perhaps Facebook and Google have multiple bad reviews listed for your company. Once your reputation tanks, it’s difficult to get it back. People may shy away from doing business with you out of fear the issues still exist.
Your first step is figuring out how others see your brand. Check out online reviews and poll your current customers. If you want honest feedback, allow for anonymous comments. Also, take the time to look back over your customer complaints. The issues people call about are usually a big indicator of where your problems lie.
Prepare: The only way to improve your brand image is via one customer at a time. Start with those who’ve left out of frustration. Call and have a candid conversation with them. Ask for their ideas on how to improve. Ask for another chance at no risk to them. For example, you create a marketing campaign and they only pay if they see results.
If you can turn a past critic into a raving fan, your reputation score will improve by leaps. Take the time to respond to negative online reviews so others can see the steps you’ve taken to fix issues.
5. Open Positions
A recent Bloomberg report looked at the issues many businesses have with finding qualified employees. Around 42% of small businesses state they can’t fill open positions, and 91% said the many applicants were unqualified for the job.
A lack of staff creates lag times in finishing work. Since many marketing campaigns run on a tight schedule, a lack of qualified staff will either overload your current workers or cause projects to go unfinished.
Prepare: Don’t wait until you have an opening to look for the best candidates. Cultivate new leads by hiring interns and staying involved in the industry. If a person comes along who has skills and is a good match, figure out how to work them into your team. You can always expand sales when needed.
6. Security Issues
Cyberthreats grow nearly every year. Hackers get better at getting into systems and gaining access to your personal data. If you don’t take steps to mitigate the risk, you’ll wind up with unhappy customers or a website taken hostage by people wanting a payout.
With more people working remotely, there is even more risk of criminals gaining access through various entry points.
Prepare: Install the latest virus protection software on all machines used in the running of your marketing company. For those who work from home, either provide a computer or free antivirus software. Train employees how to spot phishing and other scams. Be proactive in protecting information.
Assess All Risks
The above six liabilities are common to marketing businesses. However, each company has unique challenges to overcome. Assess all the risks that might derail you from your goals for the next few years. How can you overcome those issues and keep your company on an upward trajectory?
This post was written by Eleanor Hecks for the Marketing Fundamentals Team. Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.
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