Ep. 86 Pushing Through a Pandemic as Retailers: How to Keep Your Spirits Up
So many of us independent retailers have already pivoted, maybe more than once! We shifted to online. We started shipping, changed business models, worked on mindset, hustled, came to terms with changes, and so much more, right?
I get it! I’ve been there with you, or I’ve done the same myself.
There is NO denying some of the residual effects, in business, from this pandemic. Now, we’re seeing surcharges, supply chain issues like we’ve never seen, and employment problems.
How to Keep Your Spirits Up
Add the usually slow summer months for some, and this can really weigh down shopkeepers. I KNOW! I’m experiencing the same things with my own store.
It’s crucial that we stay optimistic, keep our chins up, and remain hopeful. But I don’t want to ignore what’s happening. I want to think ahead and be prepared.
Keeping our minds optimistic is essential. What we each do to support and encourage this positive mindset for the rest of 2021 will be different. What’s important is that you do what works for you.
If you’re in a bit of a funk, struggling in your business, or dealing with mindset, I’ve got some ways you can work through this.
Before I get started on my list of suggestions, though, there’s a free resource in the Shopkeeper’s Academy for you. It includes a 12-page guide of COVID-19 resources for retailers and a helpful break-even spreadsheet by WE Profit Foundry. You can download it for free here.
Work on a Budget
If finances are a bit of a struggle right now, working on a budget can help.
I won’t pretend that everyone enjoys budgeting, but the spreadsheet in the free resource I mentioned above makes it easy. All you have to do is fill in the blanks, and you’ll have a plan for the money you have.
You could also make an appointment with your CPA or bookkeeper to create a budget. Having a plan on paper can help us see a way forward.
I know this isn’t for everyone, but it can be beneficial—especially if you feel anxious or overwhelmed. I personally don’t meditate, but I use my time walking, exercising, or getting up and sweating in the same way.
Focus on Gratitude
An easy way to add gratitude to your life is to write down five things you’re grateful for each morning or evening. It helps put things in perspective.
Sometimes our minds can get consumed with heavy, negative thoughts. Practicing gratitude can help us lighten that mental load.
Build a Reserve Fund
Every retailer should have a reserve fund! Start by putting just 1% of your revenue each month into a savings account. Don’t transfer it out unless you absolutely have to. You’ll be surprised how much that 1% transfer builds up over the year.
Eventually, try to get your transfer up to 3-5% of your monthly revenue, so you have a significant security cushion.
Increase Your Pricing
If vendors are adding surcharges to your orders, freight is increasing, and prices overall are going up, you’re going to have to reflect the same thing in the pricing of your products to protect your profit margin. Start by increasing all of your prices by a percentage that’s comfortable for you.
Sign Up for Comment Selling Software
Although I personally don’t use comment selling software, they can be really helpful tools during social media live sales!
If you’d prefer to host live sales without a comment selling software, check out the tutorial on hosting a Facebook live event in the Shopkeepers Lab.
Prep for More Live Sales
In Episode 85 of the Savvy Shopkeeper Retail Podcast, I shared how to embrace live selling so you can get in front of your customers more. Customers aren’t in stores as much because of the pandemic, so seeing them on social media can keep you top of mind. Live video and live sales are great ways to do that.
Work on FUN Projects
Whether it’s related to your business or not, having a fun, exciting project can be good for your mental health. Choose something that brings you joy, gives back, or makes you feel good. If you want to focus on a fun business project, consider redecorating your store or coming up with a new strategy for the holiday season.
Give Back or Pay it Forward
Put simply, doing kind acts or giving back in some ways makes us feel good. If it does bring you joy, do it!
Stay Connected With Customers
Beyond social media, you could send handwritten notes to your top 20-30 customers or send a small gift/gift card to show your appreciation. For me, it feels great to write something kind with a pen and a cute card and drop it in the mail. It also feels more personal.
Build Your Email List
You never know what will happen with Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or any other social media space. But no matter what happens, your email list is yours. Plus, email is a great return on investment. Start building your list today.
Analyze Your Data
Depending on the data, analyzing might make you feel good—or not. No matter what, you shouldn’t hide or run from your business and what’s going on.
Take a look at your inventory data and sales data, and see how quickly things turn. Which categories are turning faster? Where should you be investing in more inventory? Should you shift from one category to another or eliminate one?
Most of us aren’t in our stores all the time. But when you run your reports, it will all shed light on your business and what’s going on. And it actually might surprise you.
Look at Your Numbers
In Master Shopkeepers, one member mentioned that it felt like a really slow season. They weren’t getting the revenue they’d hoped for.
But when they actually looked at their numbers in their bookkeeping software, they were having a better year than they’d ever had before! Their mindset was affecting how they saw their business, but numbers don’t lie.
Write down all the positives in your life and business. Write about your why, what IS working, and what you’ve accomplished.
Find Local Makers or Brands to Sell
If you’re struggling with vendors who ship from overseas because of supply chain issues, you might be surprised at how many people in your area make items by hand that fit your business model. They might sell wholesale! Check with them.
If you’re in the Shopkeepers Lab, we have a lot of makers in the group. You can post in our Facebook group to find new makers to partner with.
Provide a Service
For instance, we used to offer painted furniture services. Adding a service is a great way to diversify your business model.
Work out or Get Outside
Put it on your calendar and make it a routine. Gift yourself with what your body and mind are craving! Make sure it’s something that will make you feel GOOD.
Take a Break and Breathe
Many shopkeepers did this early on in 2020. I give them a lot of credit for seeing this as an opportunity to reset instead of forcing themselves to push through.
You can take a break, too, if you need it. Notify your customers that you’re closing shop for a week, a month, or as long as you need. Just make sure you have the systems in place to keep going once you’re back.
Mindset First, Math Second
Some of what I just listed is tactical, but much of it is intended to help with mindset.
My new mantra, and something I teach my 1:1 clients, is…
Mindset first, math second.
If your mind is filled with doubt, fear, anxiety, angst, and negative thoughts, this will determine how you feel and how you take action. It all begins with our THOUGHTS.
No matter how much you try to take action to get out of negative space in your mind, no matter how much you focus on the numbers and math in your business…if your mind isn’t in the right place, it will be challenging to make progress.
Lastly, Lean On Your Community
Lean on our groups if you’re in one of our memberships, like the Shopkeepers Lab or Master Shopkeepers.
Ask questions, ask for suggestions, learn from each other, get inspired by each other. This can be your biggest resource if you let it!
Many of us temporarily closed during the pandemic, but we pivoted. We stayed strong. And we can do it again.
- Free pandemic resource from the Shopkeeper’s Academy
- Join the Shopkeepers Lab
- Ep. 85: How to Embrace the #1 Trend on Social Media: Video
- Podcast Sponsor: Tundra
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*Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links or referral codes, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link or using the code. I make recommendations because I genuinely believe they are useful to shopkeepers. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
- [02:02] How COVID-19 is still affecting retail businesses
- [08:43] Ways to keep your spirits up
- [26:20] Mindset first, math second
- [27:31] Lean on the Savvy Shopkeeper community