Managing Your Small Business Beyond Covid

April 15, 2020 | Roger and Susie Engelau

Small business leaders have been managing in crisis for about 6 weeks. As signs point to the beginnings of an economic restart, it’s time to think about managing beyond Covid.Inspire Results Business Coaching

Managing beyond Covid doesn’t mean we’re not managing in a crisis mode anymore. We’re entering a new world. The nightly news will continue to influence our day-to-day. Managing beyond Covid is still navigating uncharted waters so we still need to manage in crisis mode.

Near term beyond Covid means we still can only look at the short term. We’ll get back to long-range planning later but for now, the goal is still to survive and position your company to thrive in the new world.

Here are the things we can be doing to thrive beyond Covid—

Continue leading your people as if you’re still in crisis. Your confident leadership continues to be as important now as it was when the pandemic first started. Crisis is change and as we return to work in this new world, there’ll be many changes. Each change can send people hurtling through the change curve again. So keep communication two-way and more frequent than usual.

Avoid paralysis, with yourself and your team. The sense that you don’t know anything, that things are changing every day, can cause business owners to stop functioning altogether. As business owners, we’re accustomed to the day-to-day flow of work driving us, dictating how we spend our day. Without that, you have to find other ways to drive yourself and your people.

Set deadlines for yourself. “I’m going to have this reviewed by 2pm tomorrow.” Block out specific time for specific things (use your default calendar). Use your Quarterly Action Plan to drive your activities. Now’s the time to create new routines for yourself. It’s hard to stay motivated but if you do, you’ll be better, your team will be better, and your business will be better… maybe better than ever.

Pull your team together and identify what you’ve learned about your company as a result of the pandemic crisis. Then identify how you can capitalize on those learnings.

The time to learn the lessons of this new world we’re entering is now. What is it teaching you about your business? Companies have discovered strengths they didn’t know they had. Restaurants doing curbside and delivery are finding out who they’re really loyal patrons are. Zydeco’s  in Mooresville, IN found out just how popular their hurricanes are. They’re not only selling their hurricane mix carryout, they started selling the 3 bottles of rum with it. Patrons who eat at the restaurant beyond Covid will likely buy hurricanes while eating at the restaurant plus some to take home.

Have you discovered vulnerabilities? One of our manufacturing clients identified that they need to cross-train their people because if someone gets sick, the business would come to a halt. So they’re furiously cross-training not only workers but management too.

This crisis has forced many of us to get good at videoconferencing. Consulting companies, accounting firms, and counselors can see better how they can acquire clients all over the world now.

Changes you’ve been forced to make now could very well improve how you do business beyond Covid.

You knew your customers’ needs pre-pandemic but do you know them now or have they changed? Do a quick connect with them and find out what they need post-pandemic. Stay in touch with your customers, especially your good customers. Now’s a great time to connect in unique ways. Hold a webinar, a Zoom meeting with your best clients, find a reason to schedule a virtual lunch and have food delivered to each participant (and support a restaurant).

Create a stellar sales plan to prepare for when business picks up. There’s some thought that once the economy picks up, it may go like gangbusters in some industries. Look for a way to change WHAT you sell and/or HOW you sell it. Classic Cakes in Carmel, IN has taken this time to use social media in creative ways to expand her customer base (see our article on Classic Cakes). 

Develop policies you needed but never had time to develop. What process improvements can you be making now? The time to test your processes is in the busiest time. A veterinary clinic was forced to operate at capacity after some workers left, and the remaining team members found innovative ways to accomplish the same amount of work. The experience has told them things about their business they would’ve never known before.

Create your Single Sheet Business Plan, or refine it, so you’re ready to hit the ground running. While you can’t focus on 1-year and 5-year goals and beyond right now, focus on the quarterly goals and really use your Quarterly Action Plan to direct your activities now.

In a recent IBJ article, Mitch Daniels said, “The next few months will expose many functions that make little or no contribution to the core mission of thousands of businesses.” Be sure you either know what those are for your business, or how you need to change your core mission, and use the time now to reinvent your future.