As some states transition back to work, and others put plans in place for reopening after the coronavirus lockdown, many small businesses are finding that they can’t just return to how they’ve always operated. What both consumers and businesses want and need to buy in the post-COVID environment is different from before.
I caught up recently Rajesh Srivastava, founder & CEO of priceSeries, which provides stock market trading advice based on smart algorithms, to find out how he’s adapting to a new environment where many consumers’ stock portfolios have seen upheaval. priceSeries, founded in 2015, is a seven-figure, one-man business that the tech industry veteran runs from Sunnyvale, California.
Srivastava is facing the same headwinds as other business owners, but he’s finding opportunity in the tough business environment. Here are some of his ideas for staying nimble.
Be objective. Keeping your business thriving in today’s environment takes serious commitment and energy—and it’s important to take a clear look at your business to decide if you’re truly up for it. That’s especially important if you’re short of funds.
“In order to get to your revenue to the level that it was in January of this year, you don’t know how long it’s going to take and what it’s going to take to get there,” says Srivastava. “It’s a very clear cut financial decision whether you will carry on with this or go into something else.”
Consider what’s still viable. Srivastava recommends making a list of your products and deciding which ones you can take further. “If they are not viable, then what is going to be viable in the new paradigm?” he asks.
But don’t make any rash decisions. “We did see a spurt of subscription cancellations,” says Srivastava. “I don’t see that as a persistent thing. What happens is when an event like this happens, it’s a natural reaction to abandon what you are doing.”
However, Srivastava realizes that for many people, investing is their only source of income, and the demand for advice is not going to go away. As a result, he’s being patient.
“If a flash flood comes, it doesn’t mean you cannot cross the river,” he says. “All you have to do is wait for the flash flood to pass through. Then you can cross.”
Expand into new markets. Not every country is facing the exact same conditions, so it often pays to diversify in times like this. Srivastava is now figuring out how to move into overseas markets such as Australia, Canada, India, Hong Kong, and the UK—and idea that was in the back of his mind before. “This could be a good re-set for me,” he says.
Look for new ways to automate your work. As owner of a one-man shop, Srivastava has relied heavily on technology to work efficiently. One example: “All of my payments to vendors are automatic,” he says.
He recommends taking stock of your business during the COVID-19 crisis to see if there are new things you can automate—so you can streamline your schedule. Checking out industry-specific software to make your business more efficient can be a great way to clear space in your calendar. “Most entrepreneurs face the time issue,” he says.
Make the most of your mailing list. Srivastava confines his list to people who have opted to receive it, and he doesn’t use third party sources of addresses.
That selective approach has served him well. “It’s a very specialized thing we sell,” says Srivastava. “I cannot be selling investment services or analysis to someone who’s not interested at all.”
As the business world opens back up, Srivastava expects to have plenty of new things to announce to his customers, thanks to all of the business development he’s been doing during COVID-19. But he plans to use his newsletter judiciously. “I only use it when I have something to tell them,” he says.