As one of Thomas Rhett’s songs famously proclaims, “Life changes!” There have been so many changes within the past few weeks, and our heads are spinning. Seasons are changing, we are working remotely, our children’s schools are closed and education has moved online, workout habits have been disrupted, eating habits are shifting, and mindsets are constantly in flux with the immediate and potential long term effects of this virus.
How do we as business leaders, many of us parents, handle so much change?
I am advising business leaders all across the country by helping make their financial processes, marketing efforts, technology solutions, and sales more efficient and effective. Many businesses saw huge growth and positive strides in the beginning of the year.
They were off to such a great start.
Then, COVID-19 happened.
Like them, maybe the pandemic threw a wrench in your business’ plans, and this quarter is not shaping up anything like you thought it would back in January.
Pause for a moment, take a breath and continue reading for my top five tips for business leaders navigating the COVID-19 crisis.
Often, this is the last thing we want to do in the midst of change. When everything is changing around us, our first instinct is to grapple for control. We want to preserve some sense of normalcy and comfort when chaos ensues. But as much as we try, there are things in life we simply cannot control and, to those things, we must surrender.
By surrendering, we are better able to focus on the things we can control. The goal here is progress, not perfection, and being willing to embrace the messiness of learning new things. Everything will not be perfect, but it can still be fulfilling. Throw your hands up and embrace the imperfect!
2. Spend time to understand and follow guideline changes happening daily, and use the resources being offered.
By now, I am sure you are aware of the CARES Act as well as relief programs offered by state governments. Relief efforts have been rolled out to individuals, households, students, and small businesses. We also have the internet, which brings a plethora of resources and data right at our fingertips in addition to the relief efforts being offered by federal and state governments and institutions.
Be sure to ask your advisors which programs to apply for and invest time into understanding and learning from different resources offered online. Access to relief is available, and if you find yourself confused or on information overload, ask a trusted advisor for help.
If you do not have someone to turn to for input, feel free to reach out. I have lived the real, raw experience of being a business owner during economic downturns and upswings.
3. Scale back and recalibrate to sustain business and working capital.
If you are unsure how to scale during this time, start with touching base with all of your vendors and key partners (think: insurance, accounting, banking, and employee benefits.)
Do not be afraid to have open, honest, and fair conversations about where you are and what you are thinking for the future. Wherever your business is from a cash flow standpoint, having conversations with your key people will go a long way — not just now, but in your future business relationship as well. All anyone wants right now is honesty and empathy.
Another valuable step to take is planning; plan for different stages of scaling your business. While my business is only at stage one of my four-part scaling contingency plan, it gives myself and my team assurance that we are prepared for whatever this crazy situation throws our way.
All anyone wants right now is honesty and empathy.
4. Get creative with your team.
Challenge them to develop a creative business idea, then organize a call where your whole team shares their ideas. Many of the most popular apps and services today were born out of the 2008 recession including Uber and Airbnb.
You never know what innovative or creative ideas your team may produce that might help elevate your business. By hosting and participating in creative virtual events, you will begin cultivating a culture of innovation which will benefit your company well beyond this period of remote work.
5. Plan for the ramp-up.
There will be a time when we will come out of this weird space and when we do, being prepared with a business strategy will be valuable. Invest in preparation now to reap the benefits later. Use your increased flexibility to make your processes more efficient, curate content for social media, or attend virtual networking events in order to grow your contacts in a certain industry.
These are simply suggestions; of course, there are countless ways to put yourself and your business in the best position possible when this season of social distancing ends. Invest today to see results tomorrow.