As we navigate uncertain times as a result of the COVID19 pandemic, businesses and their leaders across the globe, large and small, are facing unprecedented challenges. The challenges come not only from radical shifts in supply chain, revenue, and temporary closure, but also in leading and supporting teams of people.
Because LXCouncil groups across the USA are comprised of CEOs and long-time business owners, we reached out and asked for insights and strategies that our members are currently experiencing and implementing. In an effort to help other business leaders, we’re going to share these insights over a three part series.
Advice from a 20-year Internet Marketing Agency Owner – Sandy W.
Our agency saw an immediate impact. Because we service so many businesses in the hospitality industry, the pull-back of marketing budget was about 10% almost overnight. I expect by the time all is said and done, we could see up to a 25% impact.
While we’ve never experienced anything like COVID19, what I have learned over 20 years is that panic is never useful. The first thing I had to address was my team … uncertainty breeds anxiety, fear, and speculation. It was important to have a team meeting and communicate very clearly about our plan and intent to keep everyone employed. In fact, we had three virtual team meetings this week alone … just to make sure everyone was doing okay and to reassure them we’ll all be ok.
Of course with the potential bottom line impact, this also requires me as the leader, to proactively stay abreast of bills being introduced by the Federal government. These bills will hopefully provide relief to impacted small businesses. As the leader, I need to understand how we might leverage assistance coming down the pike to keep our full team employed until the crisis passes. After all, it will pass … and I will need them ALL when it’s over.
I also took a proactive approach with clients by communicating through video, social channels, and email newsletters. I talked about strategies on how to continue to market their business through this crisis. It’s important for my business that they continue to utilize our marketing services, but more importantly, it’s essential for their business that they continue as well. Again, this will pass. When everyone else is pulling back, that’s when the smartest businesses hit the accelerator. They get more reach for less money and they have an opportunity to truly be of service to their clients in ways that solidify long-term relationships and loyalty.
Advice from a 25+ year Leadership Coach – Jack M.
- Be the model of calm for your employees and customers – don’t overreact, maintain composure; start calls / video by checking in on everyone’s well-being; use levity.
- Over-communicate – use video calls so people can see each other; encourage managers and staff to have impromptu check ins with each other and customers.
- Encourage employees not to think too far out – focus on what can be done over the next few days; things will look different in the future, but no one knows how different.
- Encourage employees to take care of themselves – individuals must eat and sleep and nurture their families; by doing this, employees can take care of each other and serve customers.
- Be resilient – help everyone recognize that this is a quickly evolving situation; decisions made today might be wrong, lessons will be learned and adjustments will be made.
Advice from a Banker – Lauren F.
Be very honest with your bank/banker. If you are starting to see declines, admit that, let them help you through it and foster an ally. Going to the bank with bad news, late in the game, usually results in knee jerk reactions which are often negative for all involved.
Advice from a Sandler Business Coach – Larry V.
- Get money in to reduce AR, 90 days cash is what we are seeing as the magic number.
- Recommendation to pull from your line of credit because everyone is afraid it will be reduced or renegotiated.
- We have encouraged all of our clients to place their clients in the KARE -Keep, Attain, Recapture, and Expand
- Think about what can you do to keep your client engaged
While each of these CEOs and business owners come from different backgrounds and industries, the common threads weaved through their advice is clear. Choose calm over panic. Be proactive. Be transparent. Stay engaged with your customers. Make your employees a priority.
Leaders who take this approach will come out with their businesses better positioned than those who don’t. The crisis will end. Stay engaged. This is a time for your strongest leadership.
If you’re ready to take your business and leadership skills to the next level, and if you think your business could benefit from more insights like what’s offered in this article, let’s start a conversation. LXCouncil may be the perfect next step!
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