At Third Road Management we have the honor of working with businesses and non-profits across a spectrum of industries, ownership structures, tenure and financial status. Through our experience we have gathered some wisdom that can hopefully be helpful to business leaders outside of our current network of clients. This is our venue to share some of our ideas.
This blog is being written on April 8, 2020, and for context at a later date, we are in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis of 2020 that has caused massive amounts of economic destruction, forced “non-essential” businesses to shut down, and in almost every state in the United States there are “shelter-in-place” orders for citizens. Additionally, the United States has passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act which, among other items, included a $350 billion Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) designed to support businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
For the purposes of this blog post, we are going to move past the application process for the EIDL and PPP programs as there is a ton of literature out there to read and most people that intend to apply for those loans already have the ball rolling. If anyone still has questions about the application process we are happy to help; however, the purpose of this blog post is to answer the question “now what do we do?”
Every business is in a unique position, so there is no way to develop a “one size fits all” description of what every business should do in these turbulent social and economic times; however, here’s a list of ideas that we think you can consider to help lead your organization through this crisis:
- Take Care of Those That Matter Most: Spend time to really care for your existing clients, your team, your family and yourself well. Chances are this is not a period of growth for your business, so spend a disproportionate amount of time on those that helped you get here. In the words of Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Get Skinny: Especially if you find yourself with some extra time, use this as an opportunity to “shop around” and reduce non-salary operating expenses. A sampling of costs to consider might include: credit card processing costs, outside storage costs, rents in general, interest rates, mobile and land telephone costs, shipping costs, raw materials, internet, power, natural gas, insurance costs/ coverages, office supply vendors, uniform vendors, cleaning costs and software or other subscriptions not being utilized. Basically look at all costs connected to your business other than payroll with an eye to possible improvement. There might not be huge savings in each, but you might be pleasantly surprised by what they collectively add up to.
- Document Processes & Policies: Everyone knows that documenting processes and policies is very important, but it always seems to fall down the list of priorities. Use this time to get this important work off the list of “to do’s.” Every department in your organization can do this: accounting, sales, marketing, production/operations, shipping and receiving, customer service, IT and so on.
- Prepare for the Future: The world will return to normalcy eventually, and when it does, be prepared for it! Take some time to….
- Revisit the mission, vision and values of your business. Are they still true or should you modify?
- Write out 1, 3 and 5 year business plans with clear, quantifiable metrics for what your business looks like at those points in time (eg- revenues, profits, employees, locations, etc.).
- Prepare a financial forecast that aligns with your 1, 3 and 5 year business plans.
- Conduct a “Stop, Start, Continue” exercise with your teams to determine what your organization needs to stop doing, start doing and continue doing in order to reach its objectives.
- Implement a strategic execution tool such as the 4 Disciplines of Execution.
- Assess your brand…does it need an upgrade? Does your logo, marketing collateral, website, social media presence or other need a refresh?
- Document what your ideal team structure looks like.
- Re-visit job descriptions and re-write them if necessary.
- Mitigate risks by buttoning up any HR related matters, OSHA concerns, non-compete or non-solicit policies, etc.
- Don’t Let History Repeat! Nobody could have possibly seen this catastrophe coming; however, now that it has, what would you have done differently to be better prepared for it? New technology? New processes? Implement these now or prepare to implement them soon after your return to the normal business operating environment.
- Reach Out! Take some time to reach out to former clients, prospects and even former employees to check in on them. This act of good will might just pay off down the road.
We know that this is not a completely exhaustive list and every business is different, but we thought that this might be helpful in sparking some fresh ideas of projects that can be worked upon to both help your business weather this storm and be better on the other side of it. If you need any help with any of the above, always feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe everyone!