- Natalie Zfat is a social media entrepreneur who has worked with Facebook, Samsung, LinkedIn, American Express, and more, and has over 100,000 followers across social media.
- She says she’s done 12 specific things over the last five months to make the most of the pandemic.
- Zfat spruced up her website design, signed her whole company up for DE&I training, practiced her public speaking skills, and networked online with fellow social media experts.
- If you’re an entrepreneur with extra time on your hands, Zfat also recommends getting any lingering legal matters in order, and brainstorm new products or services that your business could offer.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Back in March, when the pandemic was a blip on our radars, I mapped out a list of eight ways every business owner could make the most of a slow period.
Five months later — with the pandemic still very much a part of our everyday lives — I thought I’d share what I’ve actually done during this period (plus a few more tasks that most of us could not have anticipated).
From overhauling my website design to putting on some extra hats for our clients to signing up for a diversity training, here are the 12 things every entrepreneur should consider adding to their 2020 to-do list.
1. Revamp your website
As a social media consultant to some innovative technology companies, I knew my website needed to be spruced up to impress my clients; I just didn’t make the time to actually do it… for five years.
Enter: The pandemic.
To build an interactive website guaranteed to impress my Fortune 1000 clients, we tapped Editor X, which gave us built-in SEO optimization, endless website templates to choose from — and responsive design that makes my site dazzle across desktop, tablet, and mobile.
2. Sign up for a diversity and inclusion training
Back in March, there was no way of predicting just how urgent the conversation around inclusion and racial equality would become to so many businesses.
To educate ourselves on better ways to support our POC team, clients, and colleagues, my entire company signed up for a virtual Diversity and Inclusion Workshop hosted by the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.
Organizations like CIANJ teach skills to help professionals make more inclusive business decisions, leverage DE&I as a competitive advantage, and break down the barriers that prevent so many companies from having truly inclusive workforces.
A diversity training is an excellent starting point for anyone in their ongoing journey to improving racial equity.
3. Explore new business streams
When the pandemic hit and millions of workers were tasked with working from home, I realized I had a wealth of experience in a territory that so many were entering for the first time, as I’d already been a WFH entrepreneur for the better part of a decade.
My team and I immediately produced a “video call best practices” webinar — and sold it to dozens of companies, including the team at Northern Trust Bank. And because so many small business owners are now exploring new avenues to get the word out about their virtual products and services, we’re planning a social media workshop for beginners this fall.
Now is the time to explore the adjacent business streams you can create to serve new customers — or better yet, existing ones.
4. Wear some new work hats
As a digital agency, the list of services our clients asked us to help them with during the pandemic was long.
From crisis social media communications, to video call training, to teaching clients the fine art of live streaming as a replacement for in-person events, we amped up our service offerings to existing clients, while simultaneously adding more value to our client-provider relationships.
We also had the chance to work on social good campaigns — like the anti-racism movement We Got You — with our client, NBA player Patty Mills, which earned national media recognition.
Take time to reassess your customers’ additional needs, and develop a plan to deliver on them.
5. Become a thought leader
As someone who built a six-figure business while working from home over the last decade, I began reaching out to media outlets, asking if their readers might be interested in hearing my best practices about how to maximize productivity — while minimizing time and money.
In one month, I was able to secure and publish four thought leadership articles for various publications.
My advice: Consider your own area of expertise — even if it’s telling a story about a challenge-turned-opportunity. From there, explore what publications, platforms, or audiences would want to hear more about it.
6. Refine your public speaking skills
I step foot on about 25 stages per year (now virtual stages) — but that doesn’t mean I can’t get rusty.
To ensure my public speaking skills remained fine-tuned in the months after the pandemic broke out, I scheduled six seminars in two months to universities across the country, from Carnegie Mellon, to Vanderbilt, to my alma mater the University of Central Florida. I taught students how to use social media to stand out to employers — and even secure internships should their existing internships be canceled or deferred as a result of the pandemic.
Since most public speaking opportunities will be virtual for the foreseeable future, booking a virtual talk is a great opportunity to grease your wheels, when it comes to public speaking.
7. Reimagine your branded assets
In addition to redesigning our website, we also tapped our graphic designer to overhaul some very overdue branded assets, including our company logo, one-sheet, client proposals, contracts, slideshare presentation, and invoice template. (Next up: Email signature.)
Refining your branded assets will ensure you’re ready to go with the best version of your business, when business picks back up.
8. Network with people who have the same job title as you
Many of us consider people who have the same job title as us as competitors. But why not also look at them as peers?
In the ever-changing world of social media, I’ll be the first to admit that I can use all the help I can get staying on top of digital trends and new products (Instagram Reels, anyone?).
To better stay in the mix, last month, I started a 12-person social media collective of fellow strategists, entrepreneurs, and experts to both network with and partner with to stay on top of our industry’s changes.
9. Give back
Back in March, I interviewed Impact Consulting CEO Lucy Sorrentini about the top tasks her company was doing during this period, and her answer surprised me.
“While a pandemic might feel like a counterintuitive time for a small business to be giving back, it’s actually the best time,” Sorrentini said.
As a small business who hasn’t suffered a tremendous loss this year, we too wanted to do our part in giving back to other small business owners. To do this, back in March, we committed to gifting products each month that help entrepreneurs flourish while working from home.
From government-grade WiFi to a Tom Hanks-approved office chair, the feeling of knowing we’ve helped a small business owner, even in some small way, is the highlight of my day.
10. Get your legal matters in order
While most corporations can confidently answer these questions with a “yes,” most of my fellow small business friends would panic at this line of questioning.
A great solution for creative entrepreneurs is Creative Contracts, a digital hub that sells editable templates that you can easily add to your website or legal documents. For $199, we just bought the DIY Website Bundle, which includes privacy policies, website terms, swipe copy, disclaimers and disclosures.
11. Apply for forgiveness if you’ve received a small business loan
So you got your PPP loan! Now what?
While the forgiveness process differs from lender to lender, the SBA website offers a helpful Q&A for those of us who received loans (thank you very much) and will now be applying for forgiveness.
12. Nail your company structure – and culture
If you’re in a position of leadership, take this time to ditch the tangibles — the ping pong table, cafeteria, or ice cream truck — and give employees the kind of workplace benefits they really want: trust, flexibility and better work-life balance.
Does every call need to be a video call? Is an 8:00 a.m. meeting ideal, if three of your team members have to sign their kids into their online schools at that time? Do your employees have a digital hub where they can go to air grievances, should challenges come up?
Now is the time to incentivize employees with the things they truly need — not the things you thought they needed.