At this unprecedented time, we're publishing the most relevant business perspective on navigating this pandemic including planning financially, working remotely, helping your employees cope, and leading with excellence.
We will continue to update these resources as there are new developments and programs available. As always, I’m here to offer any guidance you need about your business concerns and continuity.
We're in the fight together and we shall overcome!
- Kevin Fream
Resilience In A Box
Small Business Coronavirus Emergency Loans Guide provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce covers a brief checklist for employers to keep workers employed and have these loans forgiven per the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. (SBA COVID-19)
With constant changes brought on by the pandemic of COVID-19, you must combat the challenges using the United States Marine Corps motto of "Improvise, Adapt, Overcome":
Prioritize Urgency: Begin a short huddle each day with staff covering what you're doing to keep them safe and current customer priorities. Unless you're an essential business, employees should be working from home. Business travel should be cancelled and any scheduled events must be converted to virtual.
Triple Communication: Beyond a daily huddle, leverage Microsoft Teams to keep open communication with your people, using video as much as possible. Follow your normal rhythm to share (NO SALES offering to help) with customers by calling and through website, blog, and social media. DO NOT spam staff or customers with e-mails as you're only aggravating them in time of need. ONLY e-mail critical information with a deliverable of something useful with no expectation in return.
Work Remotely: Quickly make your workspace functional with limited distractions (clutter, TV, neglected chores) and disinfect daily. Just like in the office: wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds after touch keyboards or other necessary surfaces, open doors with a closed fist, turn on lights with your knuckles, don't eat at the computer, and practice social distancing.
Use Video Conferencing: Take a shower and get dressed because you're on camera - not formal attire but no unnecessary skin, pajamas, or weekend grub-wear. Leaders should leave video on all day and encourage staff to jump on for questions. It's ok if spouses, kids, or pets inadvertently pop-in. LIMIT e-mails or text messages that waste everyone's time and only causes unnecessary angst or confusion.
Manage Cash: Pay your bills and honor your commitments as a leader and others will too. Don't take large sums out of your bank as there is no cash shortage. Determine your break-even point and evaluate refinancing or lines of credit with your bank and vendors. To have a business moving forward, you'll have to innovate on all of your processes - cancelling everything and firing your staff is not an option.
Act Extraordinarily: This is the new normal. Video conferencing is here to stay with many staying home and working remotely after this crisis. Now more than ever, look for ways that you're uniquely positioned to help people. What is most valuable right now and how do you get seen by customers where they are? The worst thing you can do is stand still.
Continue to monitor our website, blog, and social channels for updated content and free resources to emerge from this pandemic in the best way possible. Reach out to us as a resource or sounding board for business questions as we have unique perspective into what leaders are doing around the nation: Kevin Fream Ask Me Anything
Instead of panicking, develop a mindset for scary times and better ones to come. Companies can draw on seven sets of immediate actions:
Protect employees: Follow CDC guidelines, but now more than develop a "Rules for Engagement" for how employees should communicate with each other and customers. Grousing or e-mail flames should never be tolerated internally and staff should have weekly role-play of what to say and not to say, as well as common reactions or objections.
Create cross-functional response team: Overall lead by CEO or principle creating 5 workstreams with rolling 4-week plan of specific 1-week goals of deliverable progress evaluated in 30 minutes weekly.
Build contingency plan: Define no more than 5 each Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Identify variables that will affect revenue and cost based upon best and worst case scenarios. Model cash flow based upon each scenario using a break-even spreadsheet. Identify trigger points to stabilize the organization and more importantly brainstorm on out-of-the-box solutions to preempt negative effects.
Stabilize supply: Define and publish your status and any delays in products or service. Focus on existing customer needs first followed by warm prospects and joint-venture partners or industry organizations. Be very selective on prospecting and only offer to help. Optimize alternatives, pre-book future capacity, accelerate deal qualification, and identify alternate vendors.
Stay close to customers: Use the upper right portion of your website for regular updates that can be used during crisis and regular campaigns in the future. Post a daily video of your situation and what you're doing to help. Have staff CALL (not e-mail or text) customers with a specific offer to help and ask if there is anything else you could be doing for them. Host a regular webinar or conference call where your customers could simply share what they are doing or ask questions. Don't lose money giving away things, but goodwill now and in all your marketing is remembered by everyone.
Practice in-depth processes: Practice a table-top exercise of your now in real-life response plan. Don't stop there as few businesses practice anything. Instead of a 1-2 hour meeting reviewing reports that everyone can read in five minutes, make a game and drill or qualify on each process of your business.
Demonstrate purpose: This concept starts from the top with leaders demonstrating what they do and how to act. The only way to show your commitment and expertise is to demonstrate it in your marketing. Don't try to sell and don't give away all your secrets. If you're worried that the competition will copy you then add more value and know they are scrambling to react.
It is imperative that you take action now and don't wait for the all clear to return to work after COVID-19. Don't delay telling your story with character and integrity because your voice, picture, video, blog post, or web page isn't perfect. You're human and we're all in the fight together.
Sooner or later comes a crisis in our affairs, and how we meet it determines our future happiness and success. Since the beginning of time, every form of life has been called upon to meet such crisis. - Robert Collier
Avoid these scam offers via call, text, or e-mail:
U.S. Treasury: COVID-19 stimulus payments in exchange for personal financial information.
World Health Organization: E-mail invite to enter coronavirus at fake awareness update site.
Charitable Donations: Desperate requests to help elderly or children with cash payments or gift cards.
Coronavirus Prevention: Reduced price on bulk latex gloves or trial offers for miracle cures.
Investments: Medical stocks or government bonds pitching huge return with your credit card.
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