The COVID 19 Pandemic has left a number of small business owners braving uncharted waters in regard to their business operations. Every small business owner is dealing with challenges surrounding reports, budgeting, employee satisfaction, and engagement, as well as customer communication.
Larger business owners have been generally able to continue forward without any major organizational shifts due to established infrastructure, discipline, scale of operations, and experience.
Since 2010, small business owners have had the opportunity to develop their operations in a bullish economy. The previous decade was a time for entrepreneurs to chase unprecedented growth.
With this upturn came more opportunists looking to develop their brand. Fast forward to today, it’s easy to become overwhelmed as difficult questions and decisions are being presented.
As a small business owner since 2002, I believe there are some practices that can be implemented to solidify your business operations and brace yourselves to continue moving forward in these uncertain times.
Direct Reports and Budgeting
If you haven’t already done so, bring all your direct reports together. Ask your finance team to provide you detailed cash-flow analysis and the budgets for the current fiscal year as well as any long term initiatives (This pandemic will pass, and the opportunity for organizational growth will present itself again).
The trick here is to look in descending order from your most expensive to the least expensive expense. Don’t chase your staff down and waste valuable time for something you are spending $20-50 on. You want to focus on the thousand-dollar expenses, i.e. 80/20 rule of business.
Lastly, look at your monthly assessment and towards the future. In these times, you might have to go to your vendors or partners to ask if you can pause a contract.
If you’re making a large payment, go back and ask for smaller lump sums. You want to get the lowest cost burn and stretch it out to flexible terms that you are comfortable with.
During these times, humanity’s inherently good characteristics will shine through, and there will be opportunities to further develop existing business relationships.
Communication is Key
It’s essential to get your staff together and let them know that you will be making intelligent decisions with both their interests and the interests of the business at heart. Communicate and meet with your employees weekly to assess their situations in a professional sense, but also in a personal sense.
Engage in discussions about family life, work from home setups, any challenges that have presented themselves to your employees. Remind them that you are available as a resource to them just as much now (if not even more so), as you were before.
Check to see if there is anything that can be provided to them equipment-wise, to allow them to get as close to they were before concerning efficiency and comfort. Maybe they will need an ergonomic desk for a physical condition or equipment to enhance their current work from home environment.
Being transparent and present to employees can provide a sense of comfort and continuity that is invaluable in the current cultural climate.
While consumer business is slowing down, you need to start analyzing what your staff is doing. Let them know what is expected of them daily and what they need to do to be effectively contributing employees.
A sense of knowledge as to the responsibilities that are to be performed will ensure that there are fewer cases of employees trying to either overextend themselves or avoid work.
What are the other essential in-house tasks you could be doing? One task could be having your employees document and design customer success stories. How about having your marketing team update old content on your website?
Another task that could provide value to your business is cleaning your customer database. A deep clean of your system data will improve your employees production.
One task that is critical is staying connected to our customers. Remind your consumers that you are present and available to them and will continue to operate as was before.
The biggest thing you need to try to avoid is panicking. You have to plan properly, leverage your staff, and make smart decisions.
Don’t try to do it all yourself. You have smart people around you.
Delegate work to qualified employees as a means of taking more time to focus on operations if that is an option.
Segment your workforce into smaller teams or groups that can work well together to not only make sure that work is done, but to also provide a system of checks and balances to ensure that client-facing work and products are meeting company standards.
At Corrao Group, we make sure to celebrate our new business wins as a way to bring our company together during these tough times.
We have instituted weekly games and happy hours to spend more time with our staff while we are all working from home.
It’s still essential to build a family-like organization through the utilization of the technologies available (for example: Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, etc..).
You have a responsibility to lead and be positive.
Remember, people are looking to you and drawing energy from the example that you are setting. Be a positive force to drive your company in the direction in which you wanted it to go and foresaw it going before the turn of the century.
Your employees will notice your body language and the actions you take.
This is not the time to be reactionary. Be proactive, and if you need help, ask!
Struggling with your business?
If you are struggling with managing your business in these times, please email us at WFH@corraofgroup.com. You can speak with our Managing Partner, Jack Corrao on any questions you may have about running your business from home. If you’d like to receive our weekly blog on our WFH series, please fill out the form below.