It is no secret that COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in many businesses and their operations. This sudden global pandemic is causing business owners and employees to change their processes daily. However, learning these new norms, preparing to reopen, and thriving in this new reality is all possible with preparation and proper planning.
My years of experience helping leadership teams focus and build an attainable vision for their organizations has allowed me to pull together these resources to help others adjust and thrive in this new environment.
Reopening Places of Business
When your business receives the green light to reopen its doors to the public, you’ll want to be prepared to address the safety of your customers and staff and your business’s finances.
Safety For Employees
Understanding your employees and being sensitive to their needs is vital. Your employees keep your day to day operations running and are the front line for service to your customers. Investing in employees encourages them to invest back into your business. Ensure you are following the latest CDC, state, and local safety guidelines and requirements.
- Offer work from home options for those who have a health risk, who are more productive at home, or for those who have children without care.
- Give benefits to employees that they appreciate (sick leave, PTO days, flex scheduling) and make sure it is open-ended.
- Check out what Lear and Kroger are doing to adjust operations for employees’ safety.
Safety For Customers
Consider your customers’ needs, fears, and reservations. What scares them, and how can you help alleviate those concerns? Keeping your customers’ needs front of mind will show them that you care and recognize the struggles they’re experiencing.
- Limit business entrances, offer health testing, and provide hand sanitizer or face masks.
- Stagger lines, offer special hours, and enforce social distancing recommendations.
- Provide contactless options wherever possible.
- Look into liability insurance options concerning Covid-19 lawsuits.
Appropriate Staffing and Resources
- Put in place cleaning policies to keep everyone safe.
- Cross-train your staff members to perform several responsibilities and duties.
- Use your People Analyzer to ensure you have the right people in the right seats.
- Remember that not all of your clients will be coming back all at once. You need to plan
- Create a contingency plan and hold weekly meetings to assess cash flow
- Project various scenarios of return business and prepare updated Accountability Charts for each scenario (what if only 50% of your clients come back to do business with you after you have re-opened?)
- Prepare and use a 13-week rolling cash flow projection
Understand your Accounts Payable:
- “Must Pay” (take top priority): employee wages, payroll taxes, and anyone else who can shut you down
- “Strategic Partners” (take second priority): vendors for whom your business is very important to them
- “Everyone Else” (take the lowest priority): vendors whom you can replace easily and delay payments to or negotiate terms
Understand your Accounts Receivable:
- Savvy customers will be classifying your receivables in the same way you manage payables and may be delaying payments
- Decide now how much credit you plan to extend to your customers
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” – James Stockdale
Recover and Take Steps to Thrive in Our “New Normal”
While preparation is an essential part of the reopening process, recovery efforts and steps towards the new reality of your business need to be made.
STEP 1: Evaluate New Opportunities and Ways To Thrive
Expecting your business to run and operate as it did in the past is not a safe assumption. Ask yourself how you can pivot and transform your business to work in new ways, provide for your community, and sustain a profit. You will also need to keep an unwavering faith that you will prevail in these times.
Here are some examples of organizations doing business differently amidst COVID.
- A distillery in Lancaster, PA, began manufacturing hand sanitizer for local businesses.
- A company producing gymnastic wear and dance costumes pivoted to making medical garments.
- Many restaurants are offering contactless carry-out meals.
- Local salons are offering pre-mixed hair color and contactless pick-up.
- Intuit offers “Aid Assistant” in QuickBooks to help calculate government relief eligibility.
- EOS Worldwide is offering free “Lead Now” Issue Solving sessions for business owners and their leadership teams.
STEP 2: Work On Business Improvements
Take advantage of this opportunity to capitalize on your greatest asset: your time. If you’ve been putting off internal projects or simply need to rewrite documentation for your new business operations, give yourself the time and space to do so.
The 1930s produced more millionaire entrepreneurs than any other decade in the 20th century. When you look back on history, you can see a pattern. These people did not allow the struggling economy to keep them down. They worked on improving their businesses and came out on the other side.
STEP 3: Expand and Thrive
With new roadblocks come new opportunities. Use now as a chance to assess new services or products you offer that may have been on hold because of time barriers. You may even consider expanding your geographic coverage and reevaluating your target audiences.
With fresh eyes and a clear mind, you may find your business changing and evolving for the better. Assess your business and examine your core focus, specifically your niche. Is the opportunity there for you to apply your niche to different industries like other thriving companies are doing?