As we get closer to the reopening of businesses, it’s time to quickly shift modes from Slowdowns, Shutdowns, and Pivots, to Retooling, Reviving and Thriving. This comes in all forms based on your industry and your customers’ industries, as they may be in a different state/phase than you are in. As you prepare to shift into a higher gear, here are 6 Keys to consider.
1 – Leadership is needed right now, more than ever before in our lifetimes. We need to lead from the front, hands-on, right there on the lines with our teams. Your teams and your customers may still be filled with Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) and will need you to be inspiring, focused, clear, and adaptable. Plan on working longer days than you may have in years. Help your team adapt to what is likely a new schedule, a new pace of activities.
2 – Communication remains the single most important leadership skill to master. You need to be effectively communicating your plans to your team, suppliers, and customers. There needs to be regularly scheduled communications, from once to multiple times per day, depending on your situation. There needs to be informal checking in with your team through-out the day. I call it LBWA, Leadership By Walking Around (like the old MBWA model). Don’t forget that Leadership Communication involves a LOT more listening than speaking; don’t confuse the two.
3 – Safety must remain at the forefront of all of your re-opening plans. Safety for your team and their families; safety for your customers/clients/patients and their loved ones. This virus is still out there, and it can still hurt a lot of people. Do not lose sight of this in the excitement of being allowed to resume operations – be in it for the long haul, don’t be in a hurry and risk everything.
4 – Cash remains King (see my webinar on this topic), and now is the time to create a new cash-based budget for the first 90 Days of your Recovery. Be smart; use credit whenever possible and manageable, add expenses back slowly (except if you cut marketing, add it back quickly). Make sure everyone knows what your daily break-even sales are, what it takes to keep the doors open long enough to get to the Thriving stage where profit returns and grows again.
5 – Preparation in every area of your business: Sales, Marketing, Operations, Finance, Products/Services, and Team. As part of ramping up, revisit what you are doing (and maybe no longer doing) in each area and make sure everyone knows the game plan as you restart and revitalize your business. In sales and marketing, make sure you are aware of where your customers are coming from. Are their businesses/jobs restarted? Be compassionate, make sure your message is the right one for this time in history, that your offers are what they need right now.
6 – Goals must be set, must be discussed, and must be challenging yet realistic. New Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and targets will likely be necessary to help your time focus on the right things at the right time. Set and discuss daily and weekly goals to start, then monthly, then quarterly. Planning beyond 90 days will be tough at this point in time, as there is still much to learn, so focus on what you know, what you can manage, and remain open and flexible to the needs of your team and clients.
As I write this, I can think of so many more things that I could add to this list, as I’m sure you could as well. What I know for sure is that if you execute well in these 6 areas of your business, your recovery will be smoother and faster, and you will move from Reviving to Thriving more quickly than those who fail to master them.
Author: Mark McNulty, Business Coach in Louisville, KY