FES View: Making Smart Energy Easy

Peter Hawksworth
By Peter Hawksworth on July 28, 2020

Small Business Assistance Hacks to Survive the Pandemic

A business hack is, according to one small business advisor, an “unconventional and creative way to make things happen.”

Something else that distinguishes people who contribute to fast growth and efficiencies is that they move quickly, coming up with bold (and sometimes obvious) solutions to common problems. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, getting the small business assistance you need can involve applying for disaster relief and taking a hard look at cash flow and business savings opportunities. But you also need to adopt the mentality of hacking -- making agile moves that can help you survive and thrive.

Agility Offers Small Business Assistance in an Unstable Economy

To survive and thrive in an uncertain economy, you must be open to experimenting, taking calculated risks, and moving rapidly. Growth hackers focus on ways to build a business and cost flow hackers look to ways to save money. They are not mutually exclusive. The best ideas will deliver both forms of small business assistance.

Identify those people inside and outside your organization who think on their feet, move quickly, and know your business. Keep your mind open and avoid the temptation to say “no” to an idea that could seem tough to execute but has tremendous potential. Taking risks can be scary, but the best concepts often come from bold moves.

Small Business Assistance Growth Hacks

  1. Mix up your marketing. Digital and social media can be very cost-effective and can help you reach millions of potential buyers. Plus, you can save thousands of dollars on printed materials. Choose the right media to reach your target market, test different creative and audiences, and make changes immediately based on what’s working. 
  2. Barter. Perhaps you own a retail store or restaurant and need a new website (or social media assistance -- see #1). Some vendors will work in exchange for gift cards, services, or other things they need. Cross-promoting each other’s products and services on your website or social media is another great way to build awareness without spending.
  3. Offer deals, limited-time specials, and incentives. Reach out to your current customers and prompt them to make advance payments in exchange for cost reductions. Come up with low-cost and high-value perks to encourage new customers to buy today.

Small Business Assistance Financial Hacks

  1. Consolidate debt and look for tax savings. Look at what you’re spending on credit card fees and ask your financial advisor about deductions and benefits you may have overlooked.
  2. Pick the low-hanging fruit. Do you really need that subscription you’ve had for five years? Can you quickly and easily sublet extra space? Use your Quickbooks or other financial reports as your roadmap, look at every line item, and think creatively and dispassionately about ways to consolidate or eliminate big expenses.
  3. Turn excess inventory into cash. Equipment, furniture, and other hard goods may have a cash value. If you have shut down locations or reduced your staff you may have items in your workplace that can be sold or donated.
  4. Streamline your team. Making major organizational changes can take time and effort, but look at the tasks each employee is performing and find ways to use freelancers or contract workers to do certain types of work. That way, you’re only paying for essential work and relieving yourself of benefits and overhead. Working-from-home options and shorter workweeks can also help ease your cash flow burden. Delay bonuses and look to lower-cost performance incentives.
  5. Save energy. Turn the lights off when not in use, invest in no-cost systems to convert to LED lighting and timers and bulbs that can reduce your lighting expense by up to 60%. Energy expenses can comprise up to 35% of small businesses’ spending and is an often-overlooked cost category.

Hold a Small Business Assistance Hackathon

Hackathons are common in the technology industry. A group of people commits to a time when they will work on out-of-the-box solutions to common challenges. Rather than coding, your small business assistance hacking team will dedicate themselves to a sprint during which they come up with creative and immediately-executable ideas to grow the business and/or save money. 

Hackathons should be fun, fast-paced, and inclusive. Celebrate the best ideas with incentives and company-wide celebrations. Not only will that prompt the best ideas, but it will also create a culture of innovation. Create a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and chip away at it through small and meaningful moves.

Every team member who is involved will play a role in helping your company grow and save. Building a hacking culture will ensure that great ideas are ongoing -- long after the pandemic. 

Start hacking your energy costs today. Ask about our new program. We’ll pay you to make the switch to LED lighting -- saving up to 60% on lighting expense.

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Published by Peter Hawksworth July 28, 2020
Peter Hawksworth