Find Opportunity in the Midst of the Corona Crisis- 13 Tips for Small Businesses to Thrive During Covid-19
Last week, I was flooded with calls about the drop in the stock market, the shortage of toilet paper, and the recent shelter in place laws being passed across the country. Despite the overwhelming sense of anxiety, as a business owner, I see this Corona thing as a major opportunity. I told my assistant the other day, this Rona is slapping us around a bit, but I actually like it, because I feel like I’m learning so much and I love problem-solving! I know this sounds kind of strange, but I actually like being knocked down, because when I get up, I can look back on a situation and say I handled that well.
This entire situation reminds me of a book that I recently picked up called Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires. When I started reading the book, I immediately became enthralled by the stories of people like Gold-rush abolitionist Mary Pleasant, real-estate magnate Robert Reed Church, and beauty mogul Annie Turbow Malone. It was amazing to see how this generation of ex-slaves not only prospered shortly after the Civil War ended, but how they became incredibly rich by taking advantage of times of extreme economic, social and political uncertainty.
To ensure we, at tgin, weather this storm and come out on top, we’re taking the following steps, many of which small businesses can take advantage of to manage cash flow during this crisis.
- I recently applied for the SBA Disaster Loan. This loan is for up to $2M with a 3.5% interest rate payable over 30 years that can be used to pay down payroll and as working capital in our business. I view this as free money and an opportunity to invest in the growth of the business long term.
- I have instructed our warehouse team to ship POs ASAP and prioritize larger volume POs over smaller ones, because many retailers are shuttering their doors and are cancelling orders.
- In the same vein, I’m having my Ops Coordinator review all vendor contracts for cancellation ad force majeure provisions to determine how much leverage we have here when it comes to cancellation.
- I contacted all of our US and Chinese suppliers last week and asked them for an update on their business and will be monitoring their business and lead times as closely as my own.
- I’m in regular communication with my banker and our vendors, and making a list of how we prioritize essential vs non-essential bills, so we can best manage cash flow.
- I’m studying what other CEOs are doing and reading the discussion forums in my Vistage group to understand the legality of temperature checks, shelter in place laws, PTO policies, etc.
- I’m taking detailed notes in our Project Management system of how we are managing through this crisis, so that we have a robust disaster recovery plan when this is all over.
- I’m communicating with my employees the best I can given the information I have available.
- I’m working on my list of speaking topics, articles and media pitches of How I Survived Corona as an Entrepreneur for when this is all over or maybe right now. If you know of anyone at Good Morning America, the Today Show, Forbes, Inc., Black Enterprise, let me know. Hey, don’t be surprised if I turn this blog post into a LinkedIn article for the business community, which is the true definition of repurposing content. Just know, I wanted you to hear from me first.
- I’m thinking of how this crisis may impact our competitors many of whom are under-capitalized and what that means for me both business wise and in terms of potential investments.
- In addition, with 20%-50% unemployment predicted in the short term and overall long term, I see this as an opportunity to scoop up some amazing talent, so my HR is going to use this slow period to start focusing on screening interviews for positions that we have not filled recently.
- We’re also shifting our marketing focus from selling products to building genuine connections with many of our customers. This is part of the reason we’re launching a new IGTV Series called Level Up. Every day at 11 am CST, I’ll be going live on IGTV on topics ranging from scaling your business, going vegan, to boosting your immune system, to the power of specific prayer, to dating while in your 30s, etc.. The content with my social team to engage with customers during this time when people are locked at home with nothing to do but watch Netflix and scroll through social media.
- Finally, I’m investing in a Cannon EOS 700 camera to start creating more rich video and taking online video editing classes on Final Cut Pro.
Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty, but like with Pleasant, Church, Turbow, etc., I see light not only at the end of the tunnel, but a huge pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. As a CEO who is constantly on the go, I welcome this downtime as an opportunity to focus on revising my strategy, so for me this is a total God send and I plan to take full advantage of social distancing and working from home for the next 4-6 weeks. Now if it goes longer than that, we may have some issues.
But until we talk again, take care of yourself, wash your hands, drink some wine, get some fresh air, and let’s keep in touch!