Much has changed since March of this year. What to wear to work today is probably not the first thought of the morning. Telework has become the norm for many and questions and probable answers about reopening abound.
Small-business owners are always well-advised to back up records, store data off-site and develop a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) to get their business back up and running, as soon as possible, should a disaster occur.
When COVID-19 occurred, there was no physical damage, but businesses had to rethink how they worked, where they worked and, in some cases, what they did. We saw distilleries making hand sanitizer, clothing companies making face masks and shortages not seen since World War II.
When reconstituting your business, you will have to rethink your business plan. Is your business still viable, can you hold on until it becomes viable again, or do you need to change the way you do business to remain in business?
What is your product? If it is face masks and personal protective equipment, you are lucky — and it is sometimes better to be lucky than good. If it is making retail store display equipment, maybe you should do what one business did and switch to selling plexiglass sanitary shields and floor markers for social distancing purposes. People are buying those items. New shelves, not so much.
If you manufacture, where are you getting your raw materials? Thankfully, you are reopening or never closed. What about the vendors you buy from? Have they reopened? Are they going to reopen? You may need a new supplier and a new credit relationship, or you may need to pay cash. Do you need extra warehouse space because your new vendor is farther away, they only sell in larger format or can no longer provide just in time delivery? What about the people who buy from you? Are they open or do you need new customers?
What about three months, six months down the road? While COVID 19 was unprecedented and in some ways unrelenting, so is change and change is occurring every moment. Businesses that were once relevant and thriving are no longer in existence. The internet has created and crushed businesses at the same time. Business owners must strive to maintain their purpose and place.
Owning and running a successful business requires a great number of skillsets. Most business owners do not possess all the skills required and must rely on others for help. That is why we hire an attorney for legal guidance or buy insurance through an insurance broker. Every stage of business growth can bring new challenges, especially reconstituting your business. In Arizona, we are fortunate to have the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network, the SCORE Association, a Women’s Business Center and a Veteran Business Opportunity Center to help small-business owners get the business advice and guidance they need to be successful. Counseling by any of the aforementioned is always free of charge. Take advantage of it because your business success is our nation’s business success. Also, when your business grows and it becomes time to hire that next employee, remember that most business owners never have a regret when they hire a Vet.
Business owners may need to take a fresh look at many of the operational areas they’ve established in running their business, from healthcare programs for their employees to the technology on which their operations function to compliance issues regarding government regulations. For the cover story — while also asking me for the latest news on government funding programs for small businesses — In Business Magazine asked leaders in many of those basic areas for their insight on what businesses may expect as they move forward in a challenging and unusual landscape.
One aspect commonly touted as a “new normal” is work-from-home. It’s being practiced on a heretofore unseen scale, but the concept was growing in popularity even before the pandemic. A pioneer in its adoption is Sara Silver, who gives us the benefit of her many years in developing the program and managing her company’s remote workforce in this issue’s feature article “Lessons in Managing a Remote Workforce.”
Liability and compliance are on many a business leader’s mind, which may also keep them on alert for whistleblowers. In the Legal feature “Blowing the Whistle,” Alejandro Pérez offers an employer’s primer on whistleblower laws.
In addition to the usual bounty of business news and information, this issue presents the “Get Back In Business: A Guide to Valley Business Organizations” with profiles of chambers of commerce, trade associations and other organizations serving businesses in the community.
I’m pleased to be part of bringing you this August issue of In Business Magazine, and hope you enjoy reading it.
Wear a mask, wash your hands, and take good care of you. Best wishes.
U.S. Small Business Administration, Arizona District
Robert Blaney has served as the district director of the U.S. Small Business Administration for the State of Arizona since 1998. His varied experience includes work as a federal agent, police officer, vice-president of an insurance brokerage and district director for the late Congressman Jack Kemp. He is a native of western New York and a graduate of the State University College of New York at Buffalo.
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