Getting Back to Business Amid the Pandemic
This year has truly been a year of uncertainty, for companies as well as individuals. It’s stressful not knowing what to expect from one moment to the next, especially when your health, finances, and business are all jeopardized. Just as you settle into your “new normal” of quarantine and social distancing, there’s a push to get back to business as usual — even as cities, states, and countries pause reopening plans amid new spikes in virus rates.
If you’re a business owner ready to reboot after quarantine-forced shutdowns, there’s much to be considered and many decisions to be made. The good news is that tried-and-true business principles still apply, even in this crazy new environment. In fact, a lot of the same strategies you used to start your business can help you reboot it now.
“This year has truly been a year of uncertainty, for companies as well as individuals. “
When you opened your business, you probably gave a lot of thought to how your company would fit and interact with your community. Today, your clients may need a little extra attention, and you may need to adjust your services to meet their needs. Find out what those needs are, then adapt to understand and address them.
How has the pandemic changed the equation? How can you ease any worries your customers may have and provide what they’re looking for? Many goods and services can be delivered hands-free, such as dumpster rentals, supplies and equipment, and goods such as groceries.
Where hands-free options are not available, how can you provide your services while easing client concerns about contact?
Take Inventory of Your Assets
It’s easy to focus on what you may be lacking, but that kind of thinking won’t move you forward. Instead, take inventory of your assets. Where do your strengths lie? What resources can you leverage? Will it be necessary to rely on credit to recover? Is your credit healthy enough?
Assessing these factors will help you determine what’s really been lost and what remains; what’s irrelevant, and what’s practical in this new environment. Answering these hard questions now will help you better evaluate what’s reasonable to strive for in the future.
Check Up on Personnel Changes
The whole world has changed, which means your workforce has changed, as well. With so many new recommendations and mandates in place, your employees will be looking to you for strong leadership and communication. Take time to evaluate how your workers are doing. What do they need?
Provide personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, disinfectants, and hand sanitizer. Studies have found employees who use sanitizer at least five times each workday are 67% less likely to get sick. And overall, proper hand hygiene can reduce absenteeism at work by up to 40%.
Learn what changes your employees find especially challenging. How are these challenges affecting morale and productivity? Make sure objectives are practical in this new environment, and that your workers have the support they need to achieve the outcomes you seek.
Plan for the Short Term
It’s OK to take things one step at a time, even though this flies in the face of how most businesses operate. Most five- and 10-year plans don’t apply in a pandemic; just getting through to the end of the month (what month is this?) is proving to be quite an accomplishment.
Start by asking yourself what your business needs to get through the next few weeks. With recommendations constantly evolving, planning for the short term might be the best you can do. It’s certainly a better use of time than making long-term plans, only to abandon them in response to the next new executive order.
Funnel New Energy Into Short-Term Plans
Short-term planning doesn’t need to mean you’re being lazy. Short-term plans require the same enthusiasm and energy as long-term plans. In fact, they can be more demanding, because you’ve got to remain nimble and adapt on the fly. Plus, a new short-term plan is always right around the corner. Devote your energy to making each day as productive as possible.
Take a Look at New Sales Channels
If you’ve been using a one-dimensional business model, you’re overdue to expand your thinking. Now’s not the time to put all your eggs in one basket. Make online and e-commerce choices available to your customers to give them more options and keep your company relevant. Have a diversified plan in place to provide goods and services to your customers.
Use Time Wisely
If it seems like the pandemic and quarantine have slowed business to a crawl, use that time wisely to explore options you never had time for previously. Spend some time exploring concepts you’d always wondered about, but couldn’t stop to ponder.
Then, once you’ve addressed health and safety concerns and hauled performance back up to standards, you might be able to begin a new project — or even boost your team’s morale with something new and challenging.
Remember: Well-Being Equals Recovery
Setting your sights too narrowly on returning to pre-pandemic conditions could put undue stress on your already stressed workforce. Implement policies that are practical and sustainable in the current environment.
The chances of things going “back to normal” are slim, so instead focus your energy and resources on bolstering your employees’ well-being. If you stick by them in the toughest times, they’re likely to stick with you well into the future.
Uncertainty is the watchword in 2020, so you’ll need to stay nimble and be prepared for short-term challenges. Taking one day at a time can be scary, but it also can increase your ability to meet challenges — and seize opportunities — at a moment’s notice. If you can, you’ll be a step ahead of the game if and when things finally settle down and return to normal (whatever that turns out to be).