Y’all might know me as the tough-love motivator on late-night infomercials or the guy who yells at you to “dig deeper!” in your living room. No matter how you know me, you know that I have always said it like I mean it.
The coronavirus has shifted our lives and small businesses in ways that many of us have not experienced. Thoughts like “What are we supposed to do?” and “How is our business going to survive?” can make the situation feel extremely daunting. So how are we going to get through this? Yes, I said we!
Here are five tips I’ve used that I hope can help you turn your ship around, generate revenue, and thrive.
Tip 1: Get out of the ‘tornado’
My husband, Scott, and I have a word that describes when we get in our heads in a really bad, negative way. It’s the state where everything seems insurmountable, and we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. In it, we allow negative thoughts to swirl around in our heads for minutes, hours, and, sometimes, days. Have you ever experienced that? We call that the “tornado.”
The tornado hit us both on March 13, 2020. That was our day of reckoning. It was the day that governors started closing their states, and we had to cancel all of our live events. I love live events. Getting to work out with my Fit Fam inspires me. Sweaty hugs and high fives motivate me and reconfirm that what I am doing is all worth it.
As a small business, live fitness events were a major income stream for us. If we couldn’t do those, how would we survive? Here comes the tornado. Stop! I’m not going to let you take over my mind today. Yes, things are crazy. Yes, revenue has stopped. Yes, times are hard. Time to get out of the tornado and focus on success. Time to focus on generating revenue instead of focusing on the negative. The work doesn’t begin until you get tired, so let’s get to work.
Tip 2: Let your passion inspire your work
After Scott and I pulled ourselves out of the tornado, we needed to ask ourselves the hard questions.
- What revenue streams are viable in the new “normal”?
- Is my passion, the reason I started my business, still viable in the new “normal”?
- Can a version of my passion still generate revenue amid the coronavirus?
As a small business owner, if you don’t love what you do, running your business feels heavy and not fun. And let’s be honest: If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. So it’s time to pivot, y’all! You started your business on an idea that inspired people to buy your product. I started Shaun T Inc. because I knew the power of exercise.
At the time, social distancing was dictating our lives. I realized that reintroducing people to the value of working out on a digital platform would help them live their best lives. Even in a stressful time, people could relieve stress and become healthier and more confident. And they could get to know me, my brand, and my authenticity.
Tip 3: Turn to the internet
OK, honesty moment: I spend a lot of time on my phone. We all do. The average person spends almost seven hours a day online, according to a 2019 report from Hootsuite and We Are Social. I knew people could do my online workouts at home. And I knew I had a large social media base that I could communicate with. But I never really focused on the internet to drive my business because I focused on other things (i.e., live events).
Regardless of how many followers you have, truly, the world is at your fingertips. You can create and drive the narrative for your business by using social media and the internet. What are you doing today to help your customers’ lives and be a part of their online experience? Are you listening to their struggles and comments? Have you addressed how your business or products can solve their problems?
For my Fit Fam, I created a 60-day virtual Facebook challenge group called “Surviving Shaun T” and invited people to join. When people couldn’t interact in person, I created an online group to engage, communicate, and relate to others and their stories. And it worked. In times of stress, people want to be heard, and they want to release their stress. We did both as a community and built a family and a bond between our challenge group participants. That bond has turned into brand loyalty, which has turned into revenue.
Tip 4: Embrace online ads and online marketing
Have you ever searched for something online and seen an ad for that product in your social media feed the next day? That is online marketing. It’s subtle, powerful, and effective. And it won’t break the bank. Before the coronavirus, I knew about online ads because I had chatted with companies that promised big returns if I used their services. But I thought I didn’t need their help because I could get the word out about my products via social media.
On March 13, I realized I needed to do whatever it took to generate revenue for my company to survive. I had my team do some research, and we took a $75 online class to learn how to place ads. The next week, we placed our first ad. #mindblown. We spent $8.54 and made over $500. My team took more classes and placed more ads for the same successful result.
Overall, we learned a few things about placing online ads:
- Online ads are not rocket science. Several online courses can teach anyone how to set them up and use them to generate revenue.
- You determine all of the ad parameters so that it’s most effective for your product. You decide how much you want to spend, the people you want to reach, and how long ads run.
- You have to spend money to make money. That business adage couldn’t be more true in this case. The great news is you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make an impact.
Tip 5: Develop partnerships
“If, at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again…with help!” Now, I know that’s not the real quote, but it’s what works for Team Shaun T. Being flexible and adaptive are major qualities to have in your small business playbook. If my passion (live workouts) can’t generate revenue, who can I collaborate with to help find new customers and generate new revenue streams?
After we pulled ourselves out of the tornado, we had a Team Shaun T meeting to discuss how we would survive as a business. The answer: Pair something that I love to do (talk) with something that I have fun doing (drinking wine). With everyone staying at home, social media boomed. My following was increasing because I created engaging content, and they had nothing to do but sit at home on hop online. So we brought entertainment and stress relief to them.
Scott and I created a live show for people to let loose. And what better way to let loose than have some drinks and talk about stuff that no one was talking about? Wine Night and #ShaunTAfterDark was born. We reached out to our favorite wine company and asked them if they were interested in sponsoring our idea. It was a perfect match. We both generated revenue and introduced new audiences to our brands. It was a win-win.
I know you can do it—and you know it too
Hopefully, something that I shared was helpful and inspired new ideas. I know that everyone’s story is unique. There’s no turn-key solution that works universally. However, I know that I create revenue opportunities when I engage my passion while using social media, online ads, and partnerships.
Being a small business owner is one of the hardest things to do. But you didn’t get into it because it was going to be easy. In the current environment, it’s especially hard. But I know you can do it. Secretly, you do too. Try some of these tips to thrive, succeed, and prosper.
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