How to embrace COVID-19 change for your business
In a world where remote digital teamwork has become the norm and conferences have gone virtual, where has that left your business?
It’s no longer “business as usual” now that the world has been impacted by COVID-19. Every business, no matter the industry or size, has somehow been affected by the pandemic. Embracing change for your business is no longer a choice, it’s a requirement to survive. Recent research released by McKinsey and Company estimates that 1.4 million and 2.1 million US small businesses could close permanently as a result of the pandemic.
Even in normal economic conditions, implementing change in your business can be a challenge. Now your business has been thrust into change and you, as all businesses, may find yourself overwhelmed with the speed in which you must adapt. Some businesses may have fared better than others if they were already mainly an online business, but even those industries have some amount of change to negotiate because all businesses rely on one thing; people. People are what drive business, from leadership to employees to customers to business partners. The coronavirus has deeply embedded itself in our minds and society, causing a shift in priorities for many individuals to focus on family and friends, while business and work become secondary to survival for some.
So how do you embrace change for your business in such extraordinary times?
Evaluate how you are supporting your employees. What are the resources you currently have (health, work environment, technology, etc.) or need to change to support a safe and efficient business. If you’re a business that requires employees in a store, office or other facility, prepare the work environment with all the required hygiene resources and safe business practices that will bolster employee morale and confidence in returning to work.
Even if the initial cost of change seems steep, consider the long-term benefits of the investment. If your business can support remote working, ensure your online security and technology can sustain your current and future business growth.
Also consider the training needed to help employees, including management, adapt to an online working environment where emails, teleconferences and webcam meetings will replace in-person interactions. The transition to remote working for many employees is challenging for those who may rely on workplace interactions for support and encouragement, so train leaders in managing hybrid virtual/physical team environments to ensure the best performance from your team.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted all facets of our lives, so consider how you can help support your employees, families and general health needs. Evaluate and highlight employee health benefit programs (life coaches, mental health support, wellbeing programs, etc.) that your employees may not even be aware of, or consider adding further health and support benefits to retain and attract employees. Remember you’re supporting households, not just employees.
As you evaluate how you adapt for your business team, include how your customers’ expectations have changed. Will they rely more on phone or online interaction with your business? How will their expectations of their in-person visits to your store/office change?
Consider the entire customer experience for your business and how you can reinforce safety and stability when interacting with your customers. Provide many contact alternatives (phone, chat rooms, social media, website contact forms, virtual meetings, etc.) to expand and support a positive customer experience. This can be an excellent opportunity to expand your business sales and service reach, thus resulting in more business!
No matter the economic conditions, continual evaluation and adjustment of your business model is essential. Looking for changes in trends, customers expectations, technology, and other factors will help you implement the appropriate business changes to stay competitive.
In a world of COVID-19, your primary concern should be the health and safety of your employees and customers, but this is also an opportunity to look at your entire business financial position and consider how to structure your short-term and long-term debt. Many government and community business support programs (SBA, Community Development Financial Institutions, and SCORE to name just a few) have existed for years, as well as new programs established just for COVID-19 impacted businesses.
Also consult with your CPA and business banker to review your current financial position. They can provide you the expertise and insight you need to strengthen your current and future business finances.
Your business is only as strong as the team you establish, and that team is just as invested in your business success as you. Foster an environment that compels your employees to adopt a new mind-set and learn new models for getting work done.
Empower your employees to continually evaluate costs and provide ideas for improvements that will help them and the organization. Don’t underestimate your team as their perspective of work and customer interactions are critical for you to see the entire business model in action, and where it needs to change.
Focus on the most reputable resources for information about COVID-19 and guidance for your business. Here are some resources to help you.