Improving Your Telework Habits
In her recent April 20th, 2020 Forbes article, “Three Keys to Engaged, Productive Telework Teams,” author Rajshree Agarwal, who is a professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, explored how to get the most out of telework. This highly timely article covers some very important territory for many companies dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Let’s explore Agarwal’s key points so that you can help your team get the most out of telework.
Agarwal notes that people may tend to shy away from sharing personal information and feelings while in the office. But via video conferencing, the story can be different. For this and other reasons, it is necessary for employers to keep in mind that the dynamic between you and your employees may be different when you use video conferencing. This will also often be the case when your employees speak with one another.
She prudently cautions business owners from taking a “business-as-usual” approach to the COVID-19 situation, as it can make them look both unnecessarily cold and out of touch with reality. On the flip side, however, it is also important to not dwell on the negative aspects of the pandemic. Offering some sense of normalcy during the COVID-19 pandemic is a smart move as well.
How you use telework and video conferencing is, in part, about developing the correct balance. On one hand, you’ll want to acknowledge that the situation is serious and must be addressed. But on the other hand, you don’t want to dwell on the pandemic. After all, not effectively handling the work at hand could undermine your business and cause other problems for both you and your employees.
It is in everyone’s best interest to be smart, safe, and acknowledge the bizarreness of the current situation while striving to achieve business goals. The keyword here is “balance.” Agarwal states that “The combination of empathy and purpose unifies individuals, allowing team members to channel their efforts towards shared objectives and values. This is the best antidote for anxiety.”
From Agarwal’s perspective, there are three keys to making telework effective: communication, socialization, and flexibility. First, there has to be good communication. For example, people can’t simply ignore one another’s emails because they are working virtually. She points out that real-time meetings via Zoom or Skype can eliminate some communication issues, but not all.
The second factor to consider is socialization. As Agarwal points out “Engaged, productive teams also take time to socialize.” Working from home alters the typical modes and methods of socialization, but virtual interactions can be used to help people form and develop their social networks.
In short, socialization doesn’t have to end once telework begins. Used judiciously, socializing, and the bonds it creates between co-workers can still continue.
Agarwal’s third key is flexibility. Flexibility is critical, as all team members must adjust to what, for some, may be a fairly radical restructuring of their day-to-day work experience. Those who haven’t worked virtually before may find adjusting to be quite a challenge. Management should strive to be more flexible during telework caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Trying to maintain the same top-down approach could prove to be problematic.
It goes without saying that telework presents challenges. However, the challenges it represents are not insurmountable. There are benefits to teleworking, and teams can use it to generate solutions that they might have not reached in the typical work environment.
Copyright: Business Brokerage Press
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CARES ACT- EIDL & PPP Update as of 4.24.20
This PowerPoint video shares an update on the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program via the CARES ACT as of 4.24.20. Topics include a review of the first round of PPP loans issued, common questions regarding what the PPP and EIDL programs are designed for, PPP Round 2 information, and introduction to the upcoming “Mainstreet Lending Program” offered through the Federal Reserve.
Don’t Fear Failure, Learn from It Instead
Failure is rarely fun. But it is also a key ingredient in success. While failure can be painful, there is no doubting the fact that the lessons that come from failure can be powerful teachers that provide life-long lessons and even life-trajectory altering results. Summed up another way, failure hurts. But on occasion, not failing could hurt more, especially in the long run.
In her Inc. article, “Why Tons of Failure Is the Key to Success, According to Seth Godin,” author Sonia Thompson, CEO of Thompson Media Group, points out that most people “avoid failure like the plague.” Instead, they spend their time trying to achieve perfection. In the process of adopting this approach, people miss all kinds of opportunities because they are afraid of damaging their egos. Embracing failure is a way to experience many “transformational benefits,” which would never be experienced without the lessons of failure.
Thompson points to the work of 18-time best-selling author Seth Godin who has written about how entrepreneurs who fail more often perform at a higher level. She quotes Godin as follows, “The rule is simple. The person who fails the most will win. If I fail more than you do, I will win. Because in order to keep failing, you’ve got to be good enough to keep playing.” Godin continues that failure imparts a gift of sorts in that it teaches us how to distinguish between a good idea and a bad idea.
As Thompson notes, research supports the notion that if you want a breakthrough idea, you will need to “produce an enormous volume of ideas.” Obviously, most ideas won’t work, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is to work your way through the bad ideas to get to the winners. Sure, it would be great to have nothing but winners. But life and reality don’t work that way. Failure should be seen more as a path forward than the end of the road.
Getting comfortable with failure, in Thompson’s view, is critically important. She believes entrepreneurs should take steps that make them more comfortable with failure, such as detaching oneself from the results.
It is vital to remember that you are not the work. In contrast, the work is part of an ongoing process. Getting good at something takes time, and there will be failures. For this reason, entrepreneurs simply must embrace a “growth mindset.” Don’t think of failure as failure, but instead as part of a learning process. There is no denying that this approach will make you calmer and that, in turn, may help you make better decisions.
There will be failure in life. There will be problems and there will be obstacles. Much will happen that you can’t predict, manage or control, such as the COVID-19 outbreak. The trick is to focus on what you can control and move forward without a paralyzing fear of failure. Because in the end, failure may be one of your best tools.
Copyright: Business Brokerage Press
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Cash Flow / Runway Calculation Tool
“Cash is King,” and with these current conditions, we as business owners may have anxiety over:
- The ability to keep employees
- What decisions to make to keep a viable runway, or
- A simple need to have a clear vision of the situation
The financial specialists at Junction Peak developed a simple cash flow tool years ago to help guide businesses through cashflow rough patches. Working in the off-hours they have enhanced this tool to help lessen the economic impact with as many businesses as possible.
We have partnered with Junction Peak to offer this Complimentary Cash Flow Tool to anyone who could use it. No strings attached, just a free, simple tool that business owners can start using today to bring their situation into focus and dispel fear with clarity.
Please click this link to receive the “Cash flow and Runway Calculation” worksheet. Below is a short summary video, an interview with the CEO of Junction Peak Martin Riley, to give an overview of how the cash flow tool can be helpful in providing needed information for business owners.
How to Connect During a Crisis
Small business owners are facing new challenges during this crisis. Communicating with customers requires more focus and depth than ever before. In Mat Zuker’s latest article for Forbes Magazine, he cites Jay Mandel who runs The Collective NYC, a marketing consulting team focusing on a customer’s experience, who underlines the importance of businesses to understand their mission statement and values in order to re-enforce marketing strategies.
Information is Crucial. Each customer purveying your business’s website needs to understand your hours of operation, any limitations to service and what is being done to ensure cleanliness. Providing this information establishes to your customer your seriousness of precautions which will be appreciated during this time.
If your financial situation allows, focus on your employees, donate to charities or offer discounted or free products. By marketing this information, your brand’s scope will bolster with the customer as well.
Utilizing the Customer’s Time. Most customers are adhering to social distancing guidelines put forth by their state and the federal government. Now, more than ever, it is important to exhibit to your customers how your brand can be utilized beyond your brick and mortar. Zuker cites how universities are beginning to offer free online classes and telecommunication companies are offering two months of free service to low-income families; King Arthur flour is promoting its library of comfort food recipes (yes, please!). Thinking beyond your storefront to put your service or product into your customer’s virtual hands is important.
Remember to entertain. By each passing day, customers are looking for new stimulation to help the time go by at home. Movie companies are making the best of the situation by sending theatrical releases to online streaming services. We don’t think it is necessary to always make your customers laugh, but it might be within your branding to aim for content geared towards warmth, humanity and empathy.
The metric for engaging your customers is changing; moving beyond views and shares to quality feedback or social impact on your community. Do not bite off more than you can chew. Cited in Zuker’s article, Social Media Today warns of virtue signaling; meaning declaring a set of values, but not following through on the actual deeds.
Also, this is a fantastic opportunity to consider your marketing strategies for when this crisis ends. What will your business look like once you are able to open the doors? How are you able to stay relevant with your competitors? These are all questions needing answers, but today we must do our best to accomplish what is in front of us.
Read Mat Zucker’s full article here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/matzucker/2020/04/01/content-in-a-crisiswhat-brands-can-deliver/
Copyright: Business Brokerage Press, Inc.
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8 Ways Business Owners Can Take Advantage of the Federal Stimulus Package
This recent article from Entrepreneur magazine is probably the most thorough article we have found covering “all” the options available with the Stimulus Package. The author, Mark Kohler, is an attorney and CPA, covering the following 8 topics to help put together the best strategic plan for your business. Engaging your own attorney and CPA would be advised to make sure and capture local state rules/laws that may apply.
- Stimulus Checks
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
- SBA Loan Forbearance
- Increased Access to Retirement Accounts
- Paid Sick Leave
- Family Medical Leave (FMLA)
The key message from the author is to look at all the options with the idea there may be multiple strategies and/or options that may fit your needs the best. Most of the press coverage we hear is on the EIDL or PPP program. Also, changes are happening daily so keep a lookout for new updated information as it comes available.
Click here for the full articleRead More
CARES ACT- EIDL & PPP Loan Summary as of 4.3.20
This PowerPoint video shares a few highlights on the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program via the CARES ACT. Topics include loan particulars, the loan process, and documents required. Also a roadmap on a suggested order in which to look at the various options available and how best to decide what may be optimal for your business. A few additional resources below.
2020 Pandemic- As a Business Owner, What Should I Be Doing Now?
A few thought starters on key items a small business owner should focus on navigating the 2020 Pandemic. Topics include cash flow/cost control, revenue, taking out a loan, how business valuations will be affected while selling a business, and buying a business.Read More
The Global Pandemic & LinkdedIn Marketing
Probably two words you wouldn’t expect to be in the same blog title– Pandemic and Linkedin. A good friend of mine, Medo Eldin, put together this video and I really like the underlying message for all of us business owners.
Even in the best of times, I see the most successful business owners have struck a balance between working “on” their business and working “in” their business. As entrepreneurs, we all have had to deal with issues and roadblocks… yet nothing like what we are dealing with today and the feelings that come with.
We have used LinkedIn as a brand-building marketing tool and have enjoyed some success. It may be worth checking out for your business.
I hope you and your families remain safe as we navigate our way through the given times.
SBA Paycheck Protection Program & Debt Relief
As of 3.31.20, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been rolled out.
One additional benefit, SBA Debt Relief, might be currently being overlooked by some but is a very large benefit for borrowers with existing SBA loans, AND for borrowers with a new loan issued before 9.27.20. This new loan provision could be very motivational for future buyers and businesses on the market currently.
Buyers- with SBA Debt Relief, if you close on a business before Sept 27th, the SBA will PAY your first 6 months payments!
Here are a few highlights along with the application and a document tracking checklist.
Paycheck Protection Program (highlights)
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.
- Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
- Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
- If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.
- The loan will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll).
- No collateral or personal guarantees are required.
- Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
- Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
- This loan has a maturity of 2 years and an interest rate of .5%.
- The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.
- It is recommended to check with your current bank first to apply due to the high volume expected.
SBA Debt Relief
The SBA Debt Relief program will provide a reprieve to small businesses as they overcome the challenges created by this health crisis.
Under this program:
- The SBA will also pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020.
- The SBA will pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months.
Business-SBA CARES Loan app doc tracking report
Disclaimer- This information is as of 4.1.20 and subject to change- Please verify with this SBA Link