How to Reinvent Your Business Beyond Covid19
by Hal Levenson on May 6, 2020 2:38 PM
On this week’s Trilogy Town Hall Call, we exchanged ideas on how businesses can adapt and reinvent to remain relevant as the economy begins to slowly re-open.
Questions for our Guests:
1. Why do I need to develop contingency or continuity of business plans if I have been able to adapt to the current situation?
- There are still a lot of unknowns and what ifs that lend themselves to creating contingency plans.
- Adapting is different than functioning. If your company continued to function during this time, is this good enough moving forward?
- Continuity plan sets expectations regarding current approach to work if not at the level that would normally be delivered and identifies guidelines when normal business operations resumes.
- Contingency plans show what could have been improved and provide the wisdom to make that determination.
2. If I haven’t repurposed my business yet, how do I go about doing that; where do I start?
Take an inventory of assets, skills and strengths to see what you can do to pivot at this time. Example: while core manufacturing halted, one business identified that they had the resources and supply chain to manufacture hand sanitizer.
3. My business doesn’t readily lend itself to producing new products or services. Can I reallocate my assets and resources in another way to preserve my profitability?
Yes, but it’s a matter of knowing what you will do temporarily and what will be permanent. Ask yourself, what are we really good at, can we put this into place, does it meet our mission, values, and our brand reputation?
- For example, high end restaurants sell meat online like Omaha Steaks’ business model. Represents a way to support clients and maintain reputation.
4. How do I explore the “what if” scenarios if we don’t return to work for another 3, 6, 9 months, etc.?
Need to look at each time frame individually and ask the same questions for each. See examples below but not limited to:
- How can I serve my clients?
- What products/services will I sell?
- Will my supply chain be intact?
- What will my staffing needs be?
- Essentially conducting a mini SWOT analysis as if the situation is real for each time frame.
- What if the climate improves and we are optimistic? What would those scenarios look like at 3,6,9 months?
5. How do you get yourself, your company or team to think and/or act outside their comfort zone?
Working from home does not equal working at home – critical to understand the factors that may impact an employee from moving beyond comfort zone.
Define what CHANGE should look like, reset your own expectations, and meet employees where they are.
Ask questions to expand the mind beyond the norm:
- Let’s think about what we didn’t do before that we are doing.
- Could we be wrong about other things?
- What more can we do?
6. How can I engage my employees so that they offer ideas for moving forward and feel like they are part of the solution? How much should I involve them in the brainstorming process?
Whiteboard thinking – start with a blank canvas.
Goes back to Question #1: who are the thinkers that need to be in the room?
- What are the possibilities?
- What are the demands now and how can you meet those demands?
- Explain that not every idea is a doable idea but allow for expression.
- Identify that every great idea, may not be practical or feasible. For example, while an employee might suggest private bathrooms upon return to work, it is not possible.
7. How can I best communicate to the employees about the current status of my business as well as potential future opportunities? How transparent should I be?
Define transparency – employees know that business has changed.
- Share what it may look like in the short term and beyond. Be honest and explain that goal is to emerge even stronger.
- Explain that roles may change temporarily and that they are needed in a different way. Give timelines if possible. For example, limo drivers pivoting to grocery delivery. Not a long-term solution but a practical change.
The more you can involve your people in the process, the more buy in you will have.
- Much is tied to culture – is the employee tied to the work or to the salary?
- Talk about a necessary shift in business and the reason to accordingly: For example, a cleaning service was once perceived to be about the appearance of the workplace, now the focus is on health. Allows everyone to keep working while providing safe work environments.
- Ask for their ideas.
Overcommunicate – in the absence of knowledge, it is human nature to make up stories that may not be true. Ask Questions:
- Are we communicating enough?
- What more would you like to know?
- How are you feeling?
- What most worries you?
- What do you need to return to work?
- Are there reasonable hurdles that you can work with?
Questions from Participants:
8. We’re struggling with getting employees back to work, and we are considered essential. Although many clients are not allowing us to resume same volumes. Our lowest volume season is winter, and we never got ramped up. Of 55 – 60 field technicians, that were on board pre-Covid, and normally we ramp up in Spring, we have only been able to bring 35 back to work. Many are “fearful” to return to work, they say. Many, we suspect are enjoying staying home, earning unemployment plus bonus. We require some training to perform our work. Any suggestions on “encouraging”, insisting, attempting to get people back to work.
Goes back to Question #7 about transparency. It’s a very complicated question as much is tied to culture and whether employee is tied to work or to compensation. Open dialogue and ask questions to determine the underlying reasons that they do not want to return to work; reasons may extend beyond what you suspect, and accommodations can be made.
9. Thoughts and discussion appreciated regarding key and highly compensated staff, earning well above $100,000. I ask for approaches for reducing staff salaries, as our business volume has so seriously been impacted. Creative and productive approaches to this would be most appreciated, that align staff to support success and possibly create contingencies for that with revised salary structures.
Answer is a combination of Question #1 & Question #8:
- Preparing a contingency plan and what ifs allows you to have more concrete ideas about the company’s direction if business remains the same, doesn’t improve or improves.
- An understanding of the business’ position will allow you to have honest and transparent conversations that may align staff.
- Asking questions will help identify employees’ concerns as well as which employees are tied to compensation or mission, vision & values of the organization.
10. Are we conscious that work that is being done, correctly, as needed, remotely now is work that cannot continue to be done remotely?
Yes, and goes back to Question #1. A continuity plan sets expectations regarding current approach to work if not at the level that would normally be delivered and will not continue when company resumes normal operations. For example, if sales proposals are currently presented via Zoom Meeting, the expectation is that when we can return to work that these will be presented face-to-face.
Questions for Participants:
11. Is your Company still relevant today? If so, do you believe it will be relevant 1 year from now?
Consistently need to reassess where your business is in the areas of talent, technology, services and products. For example, a wholesaler helped his retailers by modifying his current website into an interactive retail website that allows consumer to view products in their home and purchase through the retailer.
12. Have you identified which activities that you will stop/start/continue as the restrictions for businesses are lifted?
- Looking at work schedules. Has allowing for working at home demands demonstrated greater productivity and employee engagement? Can we apply to return to work scenario?
- Remote services such as coaching may be as efficient and productive as face-to-face and exposes an opportunity for the company.
- What does the market tell us to do? Redirect and retool to that.
13. Thinking ahead, for those who feel the need to pivot or reinvent their businesses – Will you utilize an independent outsiders or internal people?
Some business owners suggest reaching out to consultants and/or trusted advisors for guidance.
- Allows for a wider expanded view of the organization.
- Breaks routine of doing things the same way.
14. Do you have strategic people or visionaries in your firm? If so, how do you utilize them and provide them a forum to express their ideas?
- Allow for visionaries to express and identify what is practical and viable.
About Hal Levenson
Hal Levenson is the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer at Trilogy Partners. Trilogy Partners is an advisory & implementation firm whose mission is to help companies grow and transform. We accomplish this by focusing on 3 critical business areas: Financial, Strategy & People.
DISCLAIMER: Please check with your trusted professionals prior to acting for your business. This Q & A recap should not replace professional services from legal, financial, payroll, HR, insurance, or consulting professionals. If you need a resource in one of these areas, please reach out to Hal Levenson at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Trilogy Partners at 609-688-0428.
Also, as expressed by the professionals on the call, it is critical that you do a personal examination of the many factors of your business to make the best decision for you and your employees.