Facing the Giant: Big Issues for Small Business and How to Stand Strong
The top issue facing small business is, and has always been, cash flow. Cash is king. Given new pandemic concerns, mandated “stay at home” requirements, the uncertainty of when, what and how to re-open, the revenue smack-down over the past 10-12 weeks, and customer uncertainty, the list of top issues facing small business continues to grow. If you are a small business owner, we encourage you to come up with a game plan to face the giant. Here are a few practical questions to determine your next steps and business priorities
1. Cash Flow
How might you navigate the treacherous path to the end of 2020?
Cash flow is one of the most nerve-racking issues of all. Serving as a CxO in large, global companies for 20+ years, reachXOD founder remembers cash flow being a constant focus. Now, even after 6 years as a small business owner herself, she gets up every day and thinks about cash flow in a completely different manner.
Cash may be king, but sometimes we all need a bit of assistance in seeing our options and priorities in a new light--even more so now, given the prolonged exposure to cash risks. Several options are available to you to help extend your cash base, borrowing capacity, and term extensions. Determine your appetite for risk, be prepared for additional setbacks, and be willing to pivot frequently. Reach out to someone you trust, a valued sounding board, with the experience you need for invaluable, impartial, insight.
How do I ensure the physical safety for my employees, customers and suppliers?
Safety is the second highest concern of small business owners right now. The health and well-being of people is top of mind. COVID-19 presents complex operational and regulatory considerations, and a host of questions that need to be answered.
Do the areas of your business (employees, customers, suppliers) have permission to reopen from a government perspective? Is there a direct competitor near you? Is there a forceful digital footprint selling what you sell? Do you have the ability to comply with the health recommendations (and sometimes requirements) mandated by the CDC and other health regulatory bodies? For more on how to confidently re-open your business, see our reachXOD Re-Opening Playbook.
- Attracting and Retaining Customers
What do you have that your customers wanted in the past, and still want today?
An obvious and ongoing concern for any business, small businesses face greater obstacles than ever before as we move into the reopening period. Without customers, there is no business, no need for jobs, no cash. We challenge you to rethink your assumptions on attracting and retaining customers, in light of the recent environment.
Are you limited by geography, or can you expand your reach and think bigger? What differentiates you from your competitors today? What and how are you telling that to your customers and potential customers? Finally, what price are customers willing to pay, right now? One of the best lessons I ever learned during the 2008-2009 recession is “You cannot take margin rate to the bank, only margin dollars.” Re-examine your assumptions about what you sell, how it is different, why you price the way you do, where and how you market. Be willing to make a change. Do it now. You need to pivot, test, learn, and evolve in order to survive.
- Managing Talent
Are you sure you have the right people, and how are you leading them?
Talent acquisition and retention is often one of the top three business concerns across the board, but moved to the number four spot as Safety moved into the top three. Unemployment is skyrocketing to an all-time high, and many small business owners are forced to furlough or lay off employees, or shut down operations. You will need the right talent to get your business through the trials and tribulations of transition. Hiring the right talent is more than just having the skills and experience to complete a task, it is about vision and culture. It is vital to the longevity of any small business that the employees embody the company values and wholeheartedly embrace the business vision. Oftentimes, the smaller you are, the more important this is. Also, promoting a “culture add” versus a “culture fit” environment will allow you to create a diverse team where everyone is all in.
If you can only afford five people, they better be the right five who are bought into your vision, your strategy and are empowered and energized to get up every day and work with you. There are personal considerations about what and how to help each of your employees re-enter the workspace, physically or virtually. Are you leading your employees with resilience? Are you empathetic? Are you transparent? How are you leading during this time of uncertainty? Your talent strategy can be a huge competitive advantage for the small business owner who leans into it.
- Delivering Consistently When the Bar Keeps Moving
How do you surprise and delight your customers, while calming their fears?
This is an area that has the potential to be a tremendous differentiator for small businesses, especially right now. Unfortunately, keen focus on the customer is falling short in lieu of focus on safe compliance. We have to do better as small businesses, so we may win in the bigger marketplace.
Yes, we need to ensure the safety of our employees and customers. Yes, we need to navigate changing regulations for what and how to ensure a safe workspace for our employees and customers. Yet, that is not the bar. The bar is the customer’s perspective of their entire experience. This means taking what you were delivering in the customer experience pre-COVID and raising the bar beyond only the safety requirements.
Staying relentlessly focused on the customer experience will win customer retention, and that is something every small business owner needs right now.
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Get help and insights from a reachXOD advisor today. reachXOD gives you convenient access to C-suite executives for confidential, virtual, just-in-time hourly advice. reachXOD advisors are C-suite executives, not management consultants or executive coaches. Like you, they face real business decisions that affect the lives and livelihoods of their stakeholders. Each reachXOD has 15+ years C-suite experience, and led through defining crises, from SARS to 9/11 to the Recession of 2008-2009, in Fortune 100, 500, 1000+ global enterprises, in either public, private, or non-profit companies. Each has experience leading entities between $5M-$50B. We certify each one. Don’t go it alone. reachXOD