When you run a business, there is always uncertainty. You operate as if everything could come crashing down at any time, even if it’s very unlikely. For many, this mindset is what is needed to survive, since it keeps you motivated and sharp. However, the Covid-19 pandemic introduces a whole new level of uncertainty. Over 200,000 businesses closed for good, above normal levels. Workers were staying home in droves, dying, and missing work due to illness.
While the worst is seemingly past us, businesses and citizens are still dealing with the fallout. Plus, there is always a chance that another wave of the disease could cause similar circumstances as in March of 2020 and the months and years to come. As a business owner, you need to be prepared for unpredictably, and do whatever you can to overcome it if Covid-19 strikes again.
Develop A Clear List of Priorities
As an owner or a manager, you want everyone on the same page and heading in the same direction during the best of times, and it’s even more important during the worst of times. You might be suffering from a staff shortage, or a change in your revenue due to shutdowns and illness, for example, and you might be struggling to keep things afloat. You need to have a clear hierarchy of priorities developed ahead of time that every employee understands. When the times become unpredictable, you need to make decisions fast. Having a well-thought of ranking of priorities will help you make those decisions even when you don’t have all the information you need. Stagnancy will only kill your business. Making firm decisions in the moment can happen if you have a framework for how to make them.
If you are in a crisis, your employees need you to be honest and transparent with them. It’s always better to ask questions and admit a lack of information than to pretend that you have all the answers. This will help to build trust with your team. As a bonus, you can open yourself to input from them to find new ways to navigate the situation. By taking on everything yourself, you run the risk of having a limited frame. The team working “on the ground” may have ideal solutions that aren’t on your radar.
Communication is incredibly valuable in uncertain times. That includes the ability to listen as well as to speak. Your team will have many fears and anxieties that they are struggling with, and as a leader you must be empathetic and understanding. Project an air of confidence, even if you don’t feel it, and be there to help your team through difficult times.
Protect Your Business and Your Employees
Even if Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on your business and the economy, that doesn’t mean that other risks go away. You can still be sued, your vehicles can still get in accidents, and your property can still get damaged. Your workers will also still be facing the same threats and risks they always have. You need to make sure that you are protected against the fallout from those non-Covid related things to keep your business strong. Make sure that you have general liability insurance, commercial property insurance, and commercial automobile insurance. For your workers, you need to have workers compensation insurance in place to protect them in case they are injured or get sick on the job. This will also help them focus on healing in such a situation, and hopefully get back to work faster and healthier.
Provide Reminders About Accomplishments
Every aspect of our society has been impacted by Covid-19. That includes just about any business in the United States and beyond. Therefore your team has accomplished many things over the past few years during a prolonged state of crisis. Getting through it all is a huge accomplishment in itself. There were no doubt many changes, innovations, and new ideas that came about during Covid-19. You undoubtedly overcame many obstacles. Make sure that your team remembers all of them. Send out reminders and talk about them during meetings. This will keep it fresh in everyone’s mind that they, along with the business, can survive going forward no matter what happens.
Develop a Risk Management Plan
While you can never predict everything that might happen, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Develop a comprehensive risk management plan well ahead of time so that when something happens you can be as prepared as possible for it. Luckily, when it comes to global pandemics, we already have an idea of what we can expect if we suffer from another wave or completely different disease. Make a list of all of the possible risks that your business might face. Rank them all in their order of potential impact. Some issues could be crippling for your business, and some might be minor inconveniences. Start with the most impactful and create a plan to prevent or mitigate the damage from each one. That way, when something happens, you will be ready for it.
Diversify Your Operations
One thing that was very apparent during the first wave of Covid-19 was that businesses had to adapt or die. Some were quick enough to pivot to pickup and delivery models, or invested in communication technologies that made it easier to keep in touch with clients and stakeholders. Those that stuck with their regular course of business were not able to withstand so much change. One thing you can do is diversify your operations. Try to build new revenue streams so that even if some are cut off because of a negative circumstance, you can still fall back on others. If you’ve made changes to your business to accommodate local health restrictions and staffing shortages, keep them in place even if the restrictions are gone and you are fully staffed. That way, if there is another wave that is significant enough to affect your business, you will be ready to face it and overcome the challenge.
Uncertainty is uncomfortable and frightening. It can paralyze you if you aren’t able to act fast and manage it. Your business and your employees deserve to have you do everything you can do to make sure you can navigate choppy waters when they come. Use these tips to get through unpredictable times and come out stronger on the other side.