Read any newspaper and the headlines are doom and gloom.
“First Quarter GDP Will Be Bad – With Worse to Come” reports the Wall Street Journal.
“U.S. Consumer Confidence, Exports Sink Amid Coronavirus Disruptions” Reuters writes.
“Sick Workers and Spooked Customers: Coronavirus Threatens Small Businesses” The New York Times says.
It is enough to make any person running a business freeze with terror. My advice: forget the news. Stay out of the drama. Stop spending 100 percent of the time worrying.
Instead, start planning, aligning and doing. When the doors reopen businesses must be ready to bolt out of the gates and regain the momentum we had in January and February before the coronavirus smashed the economy to bits. When we emerge, we must be stronger, nimbler and move with focus and purpose. We must have a vision that can be executed.
We know what we are dealing with when it comes to COVID-19. We know about social distancing, washing our hands for at least 20 seconds and wearing masks. We certainly know we need to stock up on hand sanitizer and toilet paper. We understand the gravity of the situation. But we also know that there is no time to waste.
What should you, the business owner, be thinking about? The answer is operating a business that is more resilient, secure, efficient, dynamic and profitable than what you are running today.
There is a saying that goes like this, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” That is exactly the logic that our team at Think Systems followed during the past six weeks. When business slowed, we dug into nearly every aspect our company, which is a 16-year-old technology and operations advisory firm that provides on the ground transformation and consulting to mid-market executives and thier companies. We put COVID-19 through a colander of ideas and studied its impact on our business.
We quickly decided that our corporate security offering needed to be beefed up. We had been thinking about it before the pandemic, but it was only when we had a moment to catch our breath that we moved and hired an information security executive advisor, a CISO, to support our clients. A CISO enables us to help clients manage risks associated with information assets, safety and data migration. It opens up an entirely new market for us to pursue because in a world of hackers keeping information safe is a huge concern. We aren’t the only ones making strategic hires during the downturn. Businesses we know are adding people who will make huge contributions once the economy recovers.
Another step we took was to become proficient at using and coaching OKRs, or Objectives and Key Results, that will help our customers align outcomes and key results to strategically constructed objectives. Every company sets goals and objectives, but many lose their way because tracking becomes nearly impossible in the swirl of activity. Simply put, OKRs represent key metrics that outline what a company wants to achieve and how it plans to reach its goal. The tool increases efficiency and profitability by driving out waste. It applies discipline to your vision.
While we were bringing in a CISO and adding an OKR, we leaned on our technology advisory team to help our clients weigh the risks of moving core technologies from our offices to the cloud. Many discussed the move but put it off as something to pursue down the road. With nearly everyone on lock down, now is the time to migrate to the cloud. We need to become more virtually oriented companies where we can access critical information in a secure location that isn’t housed in our offices.
This wasn’t the first time we faced difficult economic times. We went through a similar exercise during the crucible of 2008, which set the stage for changes that allowed us to handle a black swan event like COVID-19.
We ask ourselves something every business operator should be asking themselves: Is there something dangerous beyond Covid-19? Without a doubt. We tell our team that now is the time to get ready for it. Now is the time to be lasered focused on the future.
Tony Gruebl is the president and strategic project manager at Think Systems. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.