by: Sedra Taylor
The operational incidents that small business has suffered in the aftermath of the pandemic of 2020 has been immeasurable. The functional moving and working parts of small business include communication, customer services, product or service delivery , retention, technical support and marketing. The recovery process for small business can be a daunting task for the proprietor or planning team filled with uncertainty. It is the reason that it is important to have a plan in place for those things that are seen and unseen.
The list of functional injuries can shift from one thing to another at any given time if the small business is not prepared to respond quickly and apply CPR & First Aid to an emergency. Before any small business can apply Basic Life Saving techniques in the vein of CPR & 1st Aid to intervene in the detrimental impact of a crisis such as Covid 19 the small business must be adequately equipped with local, state and federal resources and most importantly a contingency plan.
The small business must first create a realistic recovery plan, thinking about areas that could be affected in crisis. This plan once put into place must be reviewed frequently. I strongly encourage affected small business to surround themselves with a positive creative planning environment such as loyal employees, legal and financial planning advisors to assist with the recovery process. It would be wise to equip your business with technical and digital supplies that will assist with planning and working remotely if required.
It would also be a of good practice for new small business or a business in recovery to practice continuity for unforeseen emergencies such as a decline in business , power loss , breach of data or even worse if you have to lay off most of your workforce due to an outbreak of a apparently uncontrollable virus. While establishing continuity remember to improve systems and practices so when the opportunity arises you are better prepared for success .
The Pandemic of 2020 has introduced its share of new issues, and areas that the business world had not previously prepared for. It is my belief that small business is the brick and mortar of a thriving economy. The Trump administration applied a band-aid to a gaping wound that small business had suffered in a rapidly succession of time. The relief effort was intentionally supportive but meaningless to the millions of business that were drowning without consistent financial support. Many small businesses had another issue to deal with which was Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and how to protect themselves as well as their clients. PPE had to be secured in a fast time frame as people learned while the crisis was unfolding.
I have briefly shared a few steps to CPR & First Aid that would be effective for small business during this time. Technology will play a huge part within the recovery process. Virtual meetings and constant contact with your customer or client base are essential to effective communication while doing business. Per Johnson (2020), RJ Grimshaw CEO of Unifi Equipment states, “We assured our technology was set up where every phone call was picked up so there was no rolling into voicemail because we didn’t want any customer feeling that they were isolated or on an island.” (p. 26). If the customer base feels that they are in the dark and or being neglected, then they will find another business to meet that need.
The large conglomerates of Zoom and Google Meet exploded on the scene during the initial phase of the COVID-19 epidemic. They provide a technical advantage for remote meetings virtually and it allows the company to apply a personal / professional touch to any meetings. The benefit to meeting virtually is the minimal cost of the service which is a great help to a business that is closely watching its finances. Virtual meetings require a laptop or desktop with a camera and microphone. Wi Fi connectivity which is not very expensive or in some cases free or you just call in to a meeting from your cell phone and talk and listen. However, technology is a very important of not only the recovery process but sustaining growth and development of a small business.
During any crisis within a company large or small effective communication is key to information sharing at critical times. It will also assist with identifying solutions and strategizing for positive outcomes. Per Johnson (2020) Andrew Blacklock of Cisco Capital Corporation stated, “Communication is critical for remote working and should be considered from both a customer and employee perspective” (p. 26). Without the ability to communicate the customer and employee begin to feel as if they are not a top priority. This is when businesses begin to lose those who made them successful in the first place. Those who buy the product, and those who build the product.
There is always another side to working remotely. One must be a little tech savvy to connect to wireless devices. How to find the IPN , bandwidth and one of the most important smart things to know is how storage space you have on your device. Per Siew (2020), Alex Konanykhin CEO of Transparent Business states, “Remote work is no longer a matter of convenience or economic efficiency . It’s a matter of life and death.” (p. 1). I am sure most employers are concerned about confidentiality and cyber security. While this is a legitimate concern it cannot be a hinderance. Many large companies are prepared to monitor the network activity from their employees unlike small business are not as advanced.
While these are some of the key components to making sure that business is prepared when a pandemic hit it is by far not a cohesive list. Companies still need to make sure that the plan is revisited so that it does not become dated and old. Technology is a rapidly changing area so companies have to make sure that they stay on top of it. It is not enough to make one plan and think that that will be enough for several years. Pandemics may have some similar characteristics, but I think that we can all agree that COVID-19 has been an anomaly. Per Johnson (2020), “In reviewing your business, look at each of your activities to determine if it is business critical and requires the ability to continue that activity within hours or days, or if it can wait longer in order to prioritize where your operational focus would be during a disruption.” (p. 25). This approach along with cash reserves will in helping small business make it through the hills and valleys that are sure to come.
Dangi, Sanjay. “A way forward for small business post-pandemic: Prepare now to avoid panic later”. Business Insights: Global, Web 11 Nov. 2020. Accessed November 9, 2020.
Johnson, Diane. “Flirting with Disaster: Continuity Planning.” August-September 2020, www.elfaonline.org accessed November 10, 2020.
Siew, Walden. “Coronavirus as a catalyst: ‘Monumental changes’ ahead. Employee Benefit Adviser, Vol 18, no. 2 pp. 1-3. (April 2020).