On-Demand Webinar: Coronavirus & Your Small Business — From Chaos To Clarity
FREE WEBINAR For Entrepreneurs
As a business owner are you wondering how to navigate this Coronavirus crisis?
Are you wondering if you can continue to survive as the world shuts down? Can your company even survive?
Can you be the leader your family, team, and community needs during this unexpected pandemic?
Are you wondering if you can take care of your staff through this situation?
And ultimately, how do you transform your organization to adapt to what has happened and will continue to unfold over the following months?
If you are at all concerned about your small business, this FREE webinar is for you. We'll walk through what you need to do today to regroup in the midst of the Coronavirus storm, and how to effectively move forward through the uncertainty that lies ahead.
In my book, The Jump: From Chaos to Clarity For Your Striving Small Business, I explore how your business can survive through a crisis and how you the owner must grow yourself to build a long-lasting company.
In this 30-minute webinar, I will unpack these strategies and tactics to help you focus on the things that matter for this Coronavirus situation.
We'll explore the following topics:
- Whether you should continue your business (regardless of the crisis).
- If you continue your business, how you can structure it to effectively survive the crisis.
- A transformational process to change your business from what it is to what it needs to be.
- How you must level up as a leader to lead through this pandemic.
- Setting a firm business foundation that can weather the storms to come.
- How you must bring your team along through the process.
Join me (Jason Scott Montoya) for this free webinar, and we'll explore these questions, ideas, and more.
Listen To The Webinar For Small Business Owners
Watch The Small Business Webinar
The Jump Resources
- Pick up your copy of The Jump: From Chaos to Clarity For Your Striving Small Business on Amazon.
- Access the first few chapters of The Jump and other small business goodies here.
Recommended Software Tools For Small Businesses
Affiliate links below.
- Harpoon (Invoices and finance management for freelancers and agencies)
- Timecamp (Tracking your time and running reports)
- Grammarly (Make your writing better and error-free)
- InMotion Hosting (Employee-owned website hosting)
- Design Pickle (Practically Unlimited Design For A Flat Monthly Rate)
- Freeeup (Quality Vetted Freelancers)
- Pipeline Deals (CRM and sales pipeline management)
- Animoto (easily create compelling videos)
Additional Small Business Resources & Articles
- Explore the CARES Act Financial Assistance Options here. If you're seeking assistance through the CARES Act or SBA and need help, my client Trusted CFO Solutions is assisting companies. Click here to learning more.
- Yelp, Facebook, and Google announce programs for small business grants and credits.
- Check out this free webinar from another client, Rocket IT on how to maintain business continuity through the crisis. They also have a blog post on getting the most out of Zoom.
- Watch this inspirational talk about Simon Sinek about how this is not an unprecedented time.
- Win Without Pitching: Three Steps to Surviving and Thriving in a Crisis
- Win Without Pitching: Collecting, Communicating and Closing in a Time of Crisis
- Mark Cuban says how companies treat workers during pandemic could define their brand ‘for decades’
- Jeff Hilimire: How I’m preparing my business(es) for the impending recession
- Liberationist: How To Help Your Team In Times Of Crisis
- David C. Baker: Helpful insights for marketing firms on how to navigate the crisis
Webinar Talk Transcription
Welcome to this talk about how to survive and transform your small business in the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. My aim is to get you from chaos to clarity by the end of the talk.
My name is Jason Scott Montoya and I'm a B2B freelance digital marketer and author of two books, Path of the Freelancer: An Actionable Guide to Flourishing in Freelancing and The Jump: From Chaos to Clarity For Your Striving Small Business.
As a result of the Coronavirus crisis, we cannot escape the economic impact it is having on our small business across the United States of America. And this situation forces a response.
Seven years into the journey of my former marketing business, Noodlehead Marketing, I found myself and company in the midst of a crisis. And looking back, I realize that season prepared me, in certain ways, for the current crisis. These helpful ideas I'll share are relevant to the situation we all now find ourselves inside, and my extended experience is one I'm grateful for having equipped me (even though it was one the most difficult seasons of my life).
Now, while I want to give you and your company the best fighting chance possible, I also realize that the magnitude of this Coronavirus crisis is so drastic and widespread that its inevitably going to crippled many companies, including the heart of America, small businesses.
As an entrepreneur, you've faced the stress and challenges that come with business ownership, so like all difficult situations that have come before, now is your time to lean into the tension and become the leader to wisely move forward. This talk will help equip you to effectively make that happen.
But, before we talk about transforming your company, we need to talk about the obvious and painful reality of your business and whether or not you should continue it. Now might be the time to pull the stop lever, and channel your energy into something else.
Should You Continue Your Business or End It Now?
Running a business is hard. That difficulty is about to exponentially escalate.
Is your company worth taking on that challenge?
Even before the Coronavirus crisis unfolded, have you pondered whether or not you should even keep the company going? Perhaps it may be time to shut the literal or metaphorical doors on your business. Or, if not your company, it could be a department or division of your business.
Let me explore a few scenarios to help you decide if that is or is not the best decision for your entrepreneurial future.
Perhaps your situation is one where you're learning, but the venture is not fruitful in the way that you need it to be for your current circumstances. What you are learning (or not), financial needs, or some other requirement may be more of a drag than a help right now. With the crisis unfolding, the question clearly surfaces in your mind about whether you should be spending time on this endeavor.
Perhaps the venture is fruitful in some ways, but its not the path you want to go down. You're not fully committed. And without that commitment, you're going to struggle to make it work during this tough season. You may be better off focusing on something you can get energized building.
Or, perhaps you launched a project or initiative with great excitement and hope, but it has not generated the expected results and now is the time to scale it back and go a different direction.
Lastly, the company is the right business, but the way you're running it is not working and you need to change that. Perhaps this crisis is the motivation and pressure required to make that change happen permanently. If so, I've got several insights later on, to help direct you down that road.
Shutting down your company is no easy decision, but it comes down to understanding your personal aim and how the company is the best vehicle to accomplish that objective.
Is the company contributing to or distracting you from that ultimate aim? And if it is the right business, is it actually feasible and viable? If not, perhaps now is the time to end well and transition to something else while you have the opportunity to do so.
Before we go down the hard road of transformation, you want to make sure this is the business you choose to transform. So, if you plan to continue your business and start the transformation process, the following exploration will best equip you to do so with your company.
A Brief History About Noodlehead Marketing
To give you some context about where the following insights came from, let me briefly share the story of my former marketing business.
In 2007, I launched a marketing company known as Noodlehead Marketing. A few years in, I decided to reboot the business based on my intentionality and not the outside forces that so easily shaped who I became and what I did.
And then again in 2013, I faced a bigger question that forced me to reconcile my vocational future. This led to my decision of shutting down the company and going a different direction, which at the time I didn't know would lead to full-time freelancing as a digital marketer.
In our final year of reflection, we took a Sabbath year, something that stems from the old testament in the Bible. While you may or may not have much interest in these scriptures, the experiences, and principles derived from that year-long experience grew me and gave me the perspective to face the current Coronavirus crisis in a powerful way.
Perhaps these insights will help you the way they did for me.
How You Can Restructure Your Business To Effectively Survive Through The Crisis
As St. Augustine stated, “This awful catastrophe is not the end but the beginning. History does not end so. It is the way its chapters open.”
The current crisis is going to be a storm that illuminates who your company is, and what it has done well (or not) before the storm hit. Whether you can take a step back and rest in what's provided or adapt your company to the reality at hand will likely be the result of past decisions you've made and habits you already inhabited. My intent with this webinar is to provide you with a pathway regardless of which direction you need to take going forward.
The Coronavirus crisis is a revealing time for both you the leader and your company.
Here is one way you can respond.
Intentions & guiding values
So, when we leaned into the year-long process that started out wonderful and quickly shifted into a crisis, what was our guiding foundation?
We chose to trust and rest in what God provided. And we chose to embrace that the season would be a launching pad to whatever was next for us as a company and as individuals. We could not control the outcome, but we could be open to how it would unfold.
Within this intention, we explored several specific principles starting with the idea of stopping the overflowing of ideas.
Don't launch new things or make what exists better.
As Jim Collins says in his book, How The Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In, "If you want to reverse the decline, be rigorous about what NOT to do." Andy Stanley also says, "Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing."
If your business was anything like ours was and this recovering visionary you hear speaking, we were chronically coming up with and starting ideas while also rampantly not finishing these many things we began. We had wreckage of unfinished business and it was this cycle that prevented us from ever making meaningful progress beyond the revenue wall we perpetually hit.
If this tendency is true of your company and the visionary that leads it, consider leaning into not cultivating new ideas and instead focus on executing what projects and initiatives you already have in place. Do what's already in front of you, diligently and with excellence. In our current climate, its going to be hard enough to get existing customers to adopt new service, but new services with strangers will be the most difficult task. Start with the easiest task.
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” - Warren Buffett
Conduit Operations: Let resources that Flow In Flow Out
As you wonder about whether or not you can make payroll for your staff and you seriously contemplate laying off part or all of your team, I'd like to share ideas as to how you might be able to adapt financially while retaining your team along the way.
Perhaps you've heard of the idea of leadership not taking a salary, or the staff getting fired. Others may have heard of furloughs, or an across the board pay cut as other ways to respond to the financial situation. Or, some are leaning into borrowing large amounts of debt to pay staff instead of facing the reality at hand. Some of these may be necessary to survive, but I'd recommend fully understanding the ramifications of each before using.
Unfortunately, I see these options as unsustainable or potentially irresponsible for the amount of time I expect this crisis to unfold. With that said, this is a tough situation so I don't condemn people who have and will make hard choices as a result of the pandemic. But, I do hope to provide an alternative option, at least for small companies.
The idea is an income sharing program. Don't stockpile your cash, but rather share it with those who are a part of your team as it comes in (or doesn't).
This is exactly what we at Noodlehead Marketing did during our final year. Before our final year of rest and release began, we took everyone's salary and gave each person a weight. This created a percentage of income we would all receive each month after we paid the company expenses. During the first few months, we all actually earned more than our salary before we transitioned. But, as the year unfolded, our respective incomes dropped (as the did the workload). This provided the flexibility to reward the success, but also not cripple the company with the downturn. It's an opportunity to share the burden of wins and losses, for those willing to participate.
Perhaps you could structure your employee compensation in a way that allows your team to take a percentage of income based on their pay and the amount of income and expenses of the company. If you decide to go down this road, be aware that you don't want to stretch your company's income so wide that no one earns a meaningful amount.
And one other activity we did as part of this was to pay some of our recurring expenses for the upcoming year in advance. This allowed us to knock expenses out while things were at their best and then share more money later when income was down.
If you go down this road, I recommend that not only your employees are on board with the arrangement, but also their spouse. While its possibly a better alternative to being unemployed, the arrangement is not without risk. Everyone affected should be fully committed.
Bring Loyal Outsiders Inside
When we shifted into our year of rest, we had a loyal contractor that we wanted to continue working with the team, so we formalized his pay with a weighted percentage and made him an employee.
This made four of us as part of this new team with income sharing weighted pay.
As you enter into this season, think about who is the loyal team and whether any reliable outsiders should be brought into the fold (assuming they'd invite the offer).
What we quickly realized is that navigating this crisis alone is not possible. We need others to succeed. As self-sufficient as we can be, especially in America, we're quickly learning the lesson of humility and just how much of our success came from people and systems we had no control over or involvement in.
In just a few weeks, people and companies are floundering in their little boat as the ocean storm rages around us.
Manage & communicate your collective team's needs
So first things first is that we need to understand what our needs are and share them with each other. Your company should have a place like a slack channel or private Facebook group where the staff can share their needs and others can help fill them. While it may sometimes be financial, often it will be other things as well.
Another wonderful benefit of this exercise out of the need itself being filled is how it will draw the community together and track just how much need was filled over time (an inspiring activity to reflect upon).
When it comes to sharing these needs outside the company, I recommend using your discretion on a case by case scenario. Often we make ourselves quite vulnerable asking for help so be sure to respect that act from your team to open up and treat it accordingly.
Consider Forgiving Debts
As you enter into this season, perhaps this is a moment where you could forgive the debts of those who owe you and your business as a way to help them. Obviously, there may be exceptions, but consider looking at the options and see who you might be able to release from paying you back as a way to let go of that string and bless another person or company through this crisis.
Rest, Operate With Margin, & Give
As you enter into this new season, consider 80% as your 100% capacity in your work and home life. While the crisis first unfolds this may be challenging, but once things settle move towards this goal of having 20% margin. We're in a season of uncertainty so we need the margin to adapt and respond to the unexpected. And as much as we hope our Herculean efforts will change the tide, they probably won't.
This shift towards operating with great margin will be challenging, especially if you're habit is chronic over-commitment.
If things take a downturn, you may find that you have more than 20% margin. As it grows beyond that, my recommendation of what to do with all the extra time you have, or that you get from not commuting to work, is as follows.
First, complete all of your projects. Get your stuff done and get ahead.
Once you've gotten ahead, help other team members complete their projects so they too can get ahead.
Once you and your colleague's projects are done, use extra time to rest, pray, worship, and study the scriptures.
If you still have time, give that time to your families and community in ways you've always wanted but never acted or where you see there is great need.
Finally, give relational time to clients and those you know because of work. Reach out to them and ask them how the crisis is affecting them. Discover what you can do to help make their lives and business better (even if it doesn't result in paying clients).
Rest, operate with margin and give generously. When we took our year of Sabbath as a company, I look back wishing I would have leaned deeper into this rest component. Learn from my regret after the initial adrenaline-pumping craziness of the cycle fades.
The Transformative Process To Get You Through The Crisis
For organizations that need or want to adapt as a result of the crisis, let me share with you a five-phase process to help you get lean and focused while allowing you the best chance possible to adapt to crisis.
1. Low Hanging Fruit (High Impact, Low Effort)
As this crisis unfolds rapidly, you need to quickly respond by identifying the high impact low efforts you can do to get wins. What email or website home page update could you do to make a difference? Who could you call? What could you do that would generate a win that gets you fuel for today and tomorrow?
I'm seeing my clients get creative with rapidly launching programs highly relevant to the crisis situation. I've launched this and other webinars to help others, and as a way to adapt myself in case the consulting works goes south.
What about you and your business? What have you done in the past that has worked and you've since abandoned?
2. Simplify Everything
Once you've tapped out of quick win opportunities, you need to look around at your business and simplify everything. What could be done more excellently with less processes? What department, initiative, or product is more of a headache and dead weight than a fruitful endeavor? What marketing or content pieces could be consolidated into a more focused initiative?
Since we have limited resources, and a likelihood of scarcity increasing, we need to cut out the fat and focus only on what's is most important.
Everything else must go.
3. Make What's Left Better
Part of the reason we want to simplify everything in the previous stage is because we will take what's left and make it better. What we're left with in terms of people, projects, and process, now need attention and resources.
How do you deliver your service and product with excellence, time and time again? How do you focus your marketing and sales efforts on persuading others to purchase? How do you build your brand and message in a way that compels people and companies to seek you out?
4. Identify & Fill The Gaps
After we've simplified everything, made what's left better, we'll start to notice some gaps between what we're offering and what delivering. Note these things and focus on filling the gaps with a basic version and over time with a more developed solution. Complete your system, but don't use this as an opportunity to launch completely unrelated initiatives.
5. Master Maintenance: Do it perfectly, over and over again.
And the last step of the transformation from chaos to clarity is taking what you've perfected and do over and over again as excellently as possible. If needed, iterate your approach (to get simpler, better, and more complete) as things change.
While its challenging to generically apply specifics of these efforts to your business, these strategic directives will give you the framework to transform your business into what it needs to be to survive and thrive beyond this crisis. You'll need to reflect on what that means for your company.
To recap, ask yourself these questions.
- What easy wins are available to us?
- What could we stop doing or consolidate that would allow us to focus on what matters?
- Of the initiatives we retain, how can we make them even better?
- Are there any gaps that would bolster up our primary offering?
- And, how do attract and execute on this offering over and over with excellence?
You Must Level Up To Effectively Lead Your Company Through The Crisis
Keith Eigel, in his Book The Map, says the following about the connection between personal transformation and the company's growth.
"If we want to change our organization, we've got to start by changing ourselves. "Vertical development would entail understanding the purpose or value of conflict in a new, different, and increasingly more complete way... Challenging life experiences either accelerate or arrest vertical growth. The more challenging the experience, the greater its potential to bring about vertical development."
That starts by facing your fears.
Facing your fears and knowing yourself
We're often fearful in prosperity. Now that we are facing a once-in-a-century type crisis across the globe, our fear just got gasoline poured on it.
We have a front row seat to see both our character flaws and strengths.
So, we each have a choice, will we lean into our fears, and our flaws? Will we live out our strengths?
Don't Wait For Rescue, Do What You Can Today
I recall a season in my business where I was waiting for rescue, for someone to come into the business and make it work after all my fear and struggles failed to generate success. If I could hire the right sales person, the perfect project manager, or the go-getting director of operations, we'd finally be saved and get to the target destination. And I waited, and it didn't change my circumstances or level or contentedness.
Finally, I ran into the author of a book about five fisherman that were lost in the ocean for nine months. I asked him why three survived and two of them died?
The two that died waited for rescue, hoping a boat would save them from the hard reality they faced. The three that lived embraced reality and did what they could each day to survive. It's not easy to catch and drink turtle blood or your own urine, but the three that survived did what was necessary while also taking care of each other and reading the Bible they had on board.
When he contrasted those that survived and those that did not, I realized I was like the two that perished, waiting for rescue. It inspired me to stand up with my shoulders straight and do the hard things I had pushed off.
Lead Courageously, Operate Wisely
You have that choice now too. As Luke Skywalker said, It is the destiny of a Jedi to confront fear. And for successful leaders, the same is true.
You can cower in fear, or overreact out of panic, but that won't save you or the people you care about.
Instead, it's about leaning in, humbling ourselves, and accepting that we are simply a small boat tossed around by the waves of the storm.
Any control we thought we have is now out the window. But, perhaps in that glimmer of reality is our moment to do something small that will lead to something big.
Build Relationships, Be An Expert At Filling The Gaps, Explicit Communication, Act Decisively, provide clear direction, bring others along
On the practical side of things, lean into relationships. They matter more now, and the fruit of doing so will make the biggest difference over the next twelve months of this crisis.
Be an expert at filling the gap which is another way to say, find problems and solve them. For yourself, the people around you, and the clients you serve.
And, communciate, communicate, and communicate. In this pandemic season, we cannot communicate enough. Keep people updated on what's going on, what you need, and stay connected with your clients and staff. They need your leadership and reassurance. We all do.
From this internally grounded place, act decisively, provide clear direction, and bring others along on your decisions as well as to why you're making them.
You can have the plan, but the uncertainty is certain to change the game in ways you can't expect or prepare for. Expect the unexpected but know that to truly transform and lead your company will require you to change through this unexpected season.
As the last comment on this section, I'll leave you with the following quote from Haruki Murakami. “Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about."
Setting A Firm Business Foundation To Weather The Impending Storms
"If you can't communicate your vision and you can't connect with people, you're going to have a really difficult time as a business leader being successful." -John C. Maxwell
While I won't spend a great deal of time on this topic, I want to sharply lean into the necessity of getting clarity today.
The Formula For Intentionality
If you have not yet done the work of clarifying your organization's intentions, sit down and make it happen today and over the next week. Don't push off the most important aspect of running your business successfully.
Here are the questions to guide you towards clarity on purpose, mission, vision, and values.
Purpose: Why does your company exist?
Vision: What's the end game you have for your clients, your staff, and yourself?
Mission: How will your company live out its purpose and move towards the vision?
Values: Within what guidelines will you operate? What will drive the way your company staff conducts itself?
Figure out your why, where, how, and know what within you drives it.
With that in place, get focused on your strategic direction.
The Four Pillars Of Effective Business Strategy
Within your mission, get clear on the four pillars of your small business strategy.
Offering: What is the core problem you solve and the solution you offer to solve it?
Position: What is unique about your customer? Who are you solving the problem for?
Leverage: What is unique about your company that allows you to uniquely serve your unique customer?
Promotion: What is your plan for persuading people or companies to hire you to solve their problem?
Articulate your intentions and answer these strategic directives, and you'll have the foundation to make it happen. With clarity, you can effectively communicate it with your customers and staff. And, speaking of your team, bring them along.
Bringing Your Team Along For The Journey
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” - Richard Branson
Unfortunately, you may not be able to bring your entire team along for the ride, and some may willingly choose to step off of the train. But for the loyal people who stay in the trenches with you, guiding them is of utmost importance.
Mentor Your Team
This is your opportunity for developing your team's character, and fostering future leaders to grow the company. If you and your team successfully make it to the other side of this seemingly impossible scenario, there is almost no other circumstance you couldn't overcome.
As you lead your team in-person or remotely, stay connected with them in a regularly scheduled huddle. Check in and communicate. And don't stop once the excitement and energy have waned. This quote from Aravind Chandrasekaran and John S. Toussaint says it best.
“...we saw the continuous-improvement culture begin to erode when physicians leading daily “huddles” — short team meetings aimed at managing quality and safety — were busy with other duties or left the primary care practice.”
As Philip K. Dick says in his book, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon... "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
The final element you need to be considering as a small business is continuity across uncertainty.
What happens if you get the Coronavirus and are out 1-2 weeks? Is your team prepared for that? What about your top leaders and team members? What if half the company gets the virus at once? How well will your company operate without them?
You need the systems, process, and resources in place to lead yourself, your team, and your company regardless of the curve balls that come your way. Document these systems and have a plan for the unexpected disruptions to come.
The pandemic is non-discriminate. Whether you're a worker or a business owner, a wealthy person or a someone in poverty, the virus is catchable by all. We are all potential victims, and if not it directly by the illness, we are subject to the economic ruin that has unfolded in it's wreckage.
On the back cover of Jim Collins book, How the Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In, he says the following. "Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you."
We all have a choice on how we'll respond to what often feels like an insurmountable challenge. While I can't tell you exactly what do to in this crisis, this information is intended to give you insights and inspiration to help you apply what's best for your small business to give you a fighting chance.
I'll leave you with this other quote from Jim Collins' mentioned book that will leave you with the hope that no matter how dire, we always have an opportunity to turn things around.
"The Signature of the truly great versus the merely successful is not the absence of difficulty, but the ability to come back from setbacks, even cataclysmic catastrophes, stronger than before. Great nations can decline and recover. Great companies can fall and recover. Great social institutions can fall and recover. And great individuals can fall and recover. As long as you never get entirely knocked out of the game, there remains always hope."
Thank you for joining me on this webinar for transforming your business while caught in the chaos of the Coronavirus. If you'd like to dive into this content further, I recommend you pick up a copy of the The Jump: From Chaos to Clarity for Your Striving Small Business on Amazon. You can also get download some free chapters and others small business resources as JasonScottMontoya.com/jump
Have a wonderful day and I look forward to hearing your successful stories of transformation in the midst of the Coronavirus Crisis. And, if you need anything, let me know.