ASK ALAN: Covid-19/What Now … What’s Next? Part 1
ASK ALAN is a Business Advice & Idea Column Reaching 7+ Million Business Leaders
As a small business owner myself, I’m just as stressed out and anxious as the rest of us. So, I turned to some experts for help.
They agree that if we’re to survive, we must plan and act for: “What Now … What’s Next?” In this column, I’m going to deal with “What Now?” and in my next column, “What’s Next?”
The Ability to Change …
My colleague and evolutionary change agent, Brad Gaulin, suggests that the pandemic has removed the choice of whether entrepreneurs and small business owners must change to survive. He says “In the last sixty days, the world has changed, and we’re now living the Darwinian experience of change or die. Our business’ ability to change is the ultimate determinant of survivability. We can have the motivation, we can know strategically what must change, but without the ability to change we will fail.”
Strategies to minimize the impact
My colleague and business consultant, Tom Borg, has some tips I believe can help:
For your business:
Be open and communicate with your employees
Ask for flexibility during these trying times. Ask them for their ideas and suggestions. If you must cut wages, cut yours too. It demonstrates that you’re making similar sacrifices.
If you have to lay-off staff, do it gently and tactfully. Remember you want your people to return as your business picks up steam after the COVID-19 crisis passes.
Review your financials. Look at what emergency funds are available. Create a strategy that will allow you to pay essentials. Cancel all planned nonessential expenditures.
Contact your landlord or creditors. Ask them about a grace period on the rent or establishing a payment plan that you can live with.
Contact lenders and try to renegotiate loan terms for a more reasonable payment. Check with your state government for any federal assistance for small businesses.
Create or beef up your on-line store on your website. This could be an investment that pays off handsomely now and in the long term.
After this COVID experience has passed, make note of any positive changes that have occurred in your life.
Make some time to decompress. Be informed but not overwhelmed by daily news. Updating yourself more than once per day can affect your attitude negatively.
Put together a “thank goodness” list
Write down things on it like, having good health, your family members and pets, your friends and colleagues, your home and backyard, your vehicle, and other belongings. Review your thank goodness list and add to it on a regular basis.
A six to twelve-month emergency fund
As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is now.
If you don’t have one, resolve to create a six- to a twelve-month emergency fund for your business. Contribute to it regularly. It will help you sleep better at night.
“True happiness is not the absence of problems …
True happiness is solving them.” — Anonymous