Numerous companies have been hit hard around the world for the past few months. Between shutdowns, consumers who lost their jobs and are thus afraid to spend, to have to stay at home, many businesses were barely able to survive—and just as many sadly did not. Those who were able to make it through the crisis and continue operations were faced with several daunting challenges. They certainly learned some memorable lessons and, as one CEO explains, these lessons in some ways will be carrying them through these next few months, if not years.
Even as the country reopens, there is still much that hasn't changed from the early phase of the crisis. There are still those fearful of not being hired back or if they have been hired back, of losing that job should the company falter. Consumers are thus still hesitant to spend money on anything but the essentials. Not to mention, they are fearful of entering closed spaces like stores and restaurants. So what will CEOs have to do to stay alive shortly? How can the hard-won lessons they've gained so far help them to persevere? One CEO discusses what he has taken away as among the most valuable of those lessons learned…
Emotional Intelligence is Key
It is natural to feel fearful, to be worried and anxious, we are all human beings. That said, as a leader, you have to project a positive attitude whenever possible. Not only that, but you need to be empathetic when it comes to your team. They likely are also afraid and uncertain regarding the future. Keep the lines of communication open. Overcommunicate. No one knows exactly what is going on now. The more information you can provide, regardless of how little or inconsequential it may seem, the better. To this end, also ask questions of your employees; check and see how they are, how they feel about things, perhaps try and address specific worries they may have.
Recognize Your True Leaders
During the most difficult times, those who are true leaders tend to step up. Even if they might not be in a managerial position, perhaps they are now going above and beyond, and this needs to be recognized and rewarded. You might not be able to reward them monetarily right now—but never forget how they pitched in, and down the road find a meaningful way to acknowledge that.
Don't Forget About the Community
What has gotten us through much of this has been that "we're in this together" mindset? For many business owners, the community did step up to help during the crisis. In return, contributing to that community is vital right now—as everyone is struggling. Maybe you can offer free information, host webinars, share any expertise and practices you may have for contending with the challenging aspects of life as we live it now.
Don't Be Afraid to Pivot
The pandemic did reshape a great deal, and as far as small businesses are concerned, many have had to pivot in terms of their overall business plan. You can't be afraid to change in this way. There are going to be some business models that simply don't work in our current climate. To stay alive some must reinvent themselves. A great resource for gauging any such pivot will be consumers. Engage them online, through surveys, even in conversation. The needs of consumers have certainly shifted and so you want to ensure you have your finger on the pulse of what people truly want and expect now.
Consider Your Workplace Culture
Company values are essential right now, that is to say, cultivating authentic values and presenting your business based upon the culture you are fostering. People are more so than ever about loyalty—and they want to be loyal not just to a product or brand but to the company behind it. You can't just talk about company values, you have to live them. With your employees as well…they want to work for a firm that stands behind the values they emphasize.
This one is important in this new climate. People are going to have to work from home. Being flexible as far as employee hours and work practices as they strive to get their footing back is extremely important. Again, this is unchartered water for just about everyone. No one knows exactly what to expect or how things may unfold. If you remain rigid and fixated on set boundaries, this will only backfire on you in the end. Nine to five timeframes may not be feasible any longer, especially with the uncertainty surrounding schools opening and the parents' commitments therein. Keep all this in mind as you continue to lead your team.
Don't Forget About Your Network
And not just your business network, personal connections as well, family and friends for example. Perhaps they know someone or a company that could use your services. They also may be helpful in other ways. Maybe they have some creative solutions for getting the company moving again. You never know until you ask. When exactly we're going to emerge from all this is uncertain, to say the least. With new surges across the country, the road could get bumpy, really fast. That said, as a leader you cannot get disheartened. If anything, for your team and the future of the company, you have to take what you can from this experience and use it to your advantage. Find the inherent lessons, make the necessary adjustments, access all possible resources to help you stay afloat.
First Union Lending has been working with small companies throughout the events of the past few months. Our goal is to see our clients come out of this healthy. With short term loans and lines of credit, among other financing products, we can get you the cash you need to get through the challenges. Call today!