If you are a small business owner, I am sure you are intensely stressed and are looking at things day to day, if not hour by hour. Did you have a plan in place for crises like the one we are in now? If so, how is it going? Let’s talk about a few steps and some words of advice to help us in these times of uncertainty.
What a time we are living in right now! We are facing uncertainty in our nation’s economy, not to mention the world economy. For most of us, the workplace looks remarkably different than it did just a few weeks ago. I now work with a view of my bedroom, and my usual coworkers have been replaced with two black dogs. Some are worried about having a place to work. Maybe you have already been furloughed or have lost a job. The news is constantly changing, and finding unbiased information can be difficult.
As a business owner, there are steps you can take to help your team of employees continue to feel connected to each other, stay motivated, and have less fear about their future. While that sounds like a tall order, putting into practice the steps below will go a long way to getting through this unusual time.
Take care of your team.
No work, no company, and no profits or losses are worth the safety of you, your team, and your customers. Let them know you have their back; you care about them and their families. This time is uncharted territory for many, which can cause anxiety and additional stress. Do your best to reassure them you will do all you can to reduce the weight on their shoulders. Now is not the time to strictly enforce PTO, sick days, or vacation days. Happy employees are the backbone of a successful company. Your team is what will get your business through rough patches, whether they are a global pandemic, a downturn in the economy, or an industry shakeup. Take care of your team.
Create a Communication Strategy.
With the technology we have in 2020, communication is easier and more accessible than ever before. As a company, decide on one way to communicate and ensure everyone is on board. Nothing is more frustrating than when people are all doing their own thing. That is a recipe for a communication breakdown. You can choose to use a group text, instant messaging apps like Slack, or email. The options are endless. There are countless “To-Do” boards out there. In fact, you are probably already using one. Depend on it even more to keep tasks straight, in order of importance, and who is responsible. No one can say “they didn’t know” they were in charge of something. Video chatting is another way to keep everyone on the same page, both with work and with socialization. Communicating with each other will reduce stress and wasted time and give everyone some sort of normalcy in these unknown situations.
Make a financial plan.
Knowing where you stand financially during times of uncertainty will reduce stress, save time, and make decisions easier. Even if the numbers are not ideal, being secure in the knowledge they are correct is KEY. Crisis mode is not the time to be guessing, hoping, or crossing your fingers that your financial data is accurate. Not only will you trust your financial data, but it will also be right at your fingertips for any loan applications. There is talk of the US government starting a program to help small business owners through this time. Reach Reporting is always up to date with your QuickBooks and Xero information. It is data you can trust and data you can understand, and data easy to find. How’s that for reducing your stress levels?
Look to the future.
Times of crisis do come to an end. Life does return to a new normal. Things may be different, but it is more of what we consider normal. Going through hard times is never fun, but it can be helpful. We learn so much about our character, the character of our employees, and how resilient everyone can be. Using the hard things we endure to learn is the best way to ensure we don’t repeat mistakes. Figure out what worked, and what didn’t work. Who handled the stress well, and who needed more time to adjust? How did our bottom line do? Part of being a leader, we need to evaluate all situations, learn from them, and make adjustments.
“And I knew exactly what to do. But in a much more real sense, I had no idea what to do.” -Michael Scott
Epidemics uncharted territory for everyone, so any uneasiness you are feeling is entirely usual and not unexpected. We are all figuring this out as we go. There are no rules of etiquette in place for working through a global pandemic. So take a deep breath and use the steps above to move forward. Most of us, if not all of us, have heard the saying, “The only constant in the world is change.” While I believe this current situation will pass and things will return to “normal,” we should use this moment to make sure we are as prepared as possible for the subsequent unknown in our lives.
How is your company adjusting to our new temporary normal? What has worked or not worked? Please share in the comments.