Finance / Small businesses / Startups

Small businesses: When making the pivot, it’s a matter of money and mentality

Baltimore's Ortus Academy is teaming with other orgs to help businesses as they navigate the new economic crisis, and make plans to survive.

Ortus Academy CEO Aaron Velky. (Courtesy photo)

When navigating a slowdown that’s outside of our control, Aaron Velky is seeing how decisions a business owner makes on a spreadsheet can affect people’s lives. As the Ortus Academy CEO points out, a decision to have everyone take pay cuts may mean that everyone will continue to get one, for instance.

The crisis moment can also be a source of bigger moves that shift operations. Whether it’s a restaurant that’s offering delivery or a services company putting its offerings online, it’s a reality that businesses have to put limited cash reserves towards what will work in the moment.

Providing the tools to approach the hard financial conversations are nothing new for the RealLIST Startups 2020 company, which started with a focus on students. When the pandemic arrived, it offered to spread those tools to businesses looking for deeper conversations, such as, “What are you doing with your dollars and what are you going to do to pivot?”

“Even if that pivot is minuscule, everyone has got to do it,” Velky said. Yet these decisions are made in a time of stress, so it can feel harder.

It has led to a rally-around-the-business approach that Ortus Academy is calling the Ortus Navigator Coaching Service, as the company is working with design thinking consultants at Greatest Possible Good and financial experts as they offer businesses models for how to move forward.

Together, they’re applying the financial learnings they spread, as well as some of what they’ve learned building a startup. After all, though businesses aren’t new, it’s a time to take a lean approaches. And being a time of stress, these decisions can also feel hard and more important than ever — so it’s also a question of mentality.

“We want to be the grounding voice so that someone that may be emotional and panicked doesn’t have to give up what they stand for to stay alive right now,” Velky said.

With the effort, they’ll work with small and medium-sized businesses that are less than $10 million in revenue — the kind that don’t have a CFO to make the dispassionate calls. They’ll look to get a plan for the two to three weeks in the immediate future, then bring in folks that can help to execute. The initial sessions is $200, or pay what you can.

For Ortus Academy, it extends work they began before the pandemic on new features for employee wellness. When it comes to the company’s idea of spreading financial intelligence, Velky takes a holistic view: The idea is to help companies, as well as the individuals who are building with them.

“The intention is to uplift a business,” Velky said. “By uplifting a business we uplift a set of team members. We can support a community because we know small businesses have a tremendous ripple effect in their community.”

To hear from Velky, check out this webinar he’s offering Tuesday, May 19, at 1:30 p.m. with ETC.

Companies: Ortus Academy

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