Small Business Survival Guide, COVID-19

Small Business Survival Guide, COVID-19
Reading Time: 3 minutes

            Times are uncertain and the world seems to be in complete panic. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our daily lives, the stock market is down, and Russia and Saudi are in an oil bidding war. These are all things over which we have no control. What we do control is how we react. As businesses, we must adapt and overcome if we are to survive.

Times are uncertain and the world seems to be in complete panic. #COVID19 has wreaked havoc on our daily lives… These are all things over which we have no control. What we do control is how we react. As businesses, we must adapt… Click To Tweet

                For some, this may mean a minor adjustment to our methods. To others, this may require a drastic shift in our business model. Whatever the case, two things are for sure, absenteeism is going to increase and the likelihood of shifting to remote work forces is ever increasing. For those who have never considered such a possibility, these will likely be trying times, but you can overcome.

                What can you do in order to combat this and protect your business?

Adapt

            Have you ever heard the proverb, “a tree that does not bend breaks?” In Aesop’s fable, the Oak and the Reed, (from which the proverb is derived) a mighty oak relies on its rigid strength to survive a storm while the reed simply bends with the wind. While there are times to be rigid, these are not those times. Companies that thrive will be companies that bend. Sacrifices will be made. Whether that’s becoming more lenient with absenteeism, shifting your business model to remote labor, or changing your product offerings like one high-end restaurant in Seattle did, it’s only a matter of time before you will need to adjust, and that may mean looking at new business tools.

                Given the CDC’s current guidance on absenteeism based on self-reported symptoms, companies needing to take a soft hand will be required to adapt their tracking methods and demerit or point tracking to meet the current conditions. Flexibility and practicality in the area of time-off will be evermore important. Furthermore, with the newly approved Federal Guidelines for Emergency Sick Leave, absenteeism will likely take on a whole new face and require a brand new kind of tracking apparatus, or at least an adaptive one.

                As absenteeism increases and work forces begin transitioning to remote labor, new business practices will likely be required. Systems for task reporting, communication schedules, and qualifications for “absent from station,” “non-responsive,” “self-quarantined,” and, “unwell but working,” are likely to all become helpful and even necessary tracking categories as the pandemic progresses. Robust and adaptive technology will be imperative, as will careful and systemic implementation. Logging remote time punches, tracking and maintaining remote employees, organizing a business absent of a standardized office environment, all will be necessary within the next few weeks or months. As the CDC has recommended that employees displaying signs of acute respiratory illness should be encouraged to remain at home until symptom free and has issued guidance that employers should take a soft hand with absence until further notice. As such, offering employees options to work from home if feeling ill as well as suspending negative points for absentees based on symptoms or presumed contamination is a wise and compliant course of action.

Persist

            President Theodore Roosevelt once famously stated, “let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.” Those who take the reins and continue to strive will rise above their times. Those who sit and wait will surely rust out. While bending in the wind may prevent you from breaking, it will not help you thrive. Strong roots are required for that. Now is the time to dig in, grow deep roots, and build a business culture that will survive, thrive, retain employees, and overcome adversity. Using social media and mobile apps could be key to maintaining employee interaction, smart policies will be key in maintaining productivity, and good leadership will be an absolute necessity in all things.

            Leaders will be required to lead from the front, offering guidance, morale boosting energy, and most of all, they must display the adaptive spirit they wish to engender in their employees. Businesses with creative foresight will continue on, where those with rigid adherence to past business models may well fall by the wayside. In some cases, it may require the combining of multiple business models, mergers, and partnerships to create mutually shared strength. This is an excellent strategy, when handled correctly. Whatever the case, persistence is key. While there are certainly times to close and times to pivot, both of these options should be accepted only with an attitude of continued persistence. Whether it is the determination to persist in entrepreneurship, persist in adapting until you find the right formula, or persisting with a product or service of known quantity which is capable of riding out the storm alongside you, persistence is key.

by Jonathan Presson
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