Time to reclaim your dysfunctional relationship with Covid-19

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It’s time for small businesses to take back control of their dysfunctional relationship with Covid-19.

As much as we would like to hide the virus, declare independence and just move on, those are not among the options available to us. While we are entering a new phase of Covid-19 and attitudes are relaxing, there are still risks to be aware of.

So a new de-escalation in the relationship, a new set of Ts and Cs, was required as the path to sustainable operating models, not to mention the personal sanity of small business owners who have been on the wrong side of an abusive situation for the last. two years.

Related: 3 great ways to connect with customers in a post-COVID-19 world

To be fair, Covid spawned a lot of creative adaptation in business. Transformation programs that would have occurred over the years, were done in months. The innovative “pivots” are now new business lines and revenue streams.

Still, the common theme has been an intensely short-term set of decisions, whether at the level of individual companies or national governments.

And as we are realizing in the early days of 2022, there is debt to be overcome on many of the actions taken thus far in response to the virus, along with some unforeseen consequences, virtually all beyond the control of any individual business owner. .

So let’s reassess where we are, what we’ve learned, our options, and what we can control.

First, an honest acknowledgment that we may be closer to the beginning of this virus and its variants than the end.

So what’s to come may not be an endless series of stopgap measures, but rather getting off the hamster wheel of blinking, mask mandates or not, stimulus extensions or not, stretching the payroll to get to a warmer weather or vacations. spend the season.

Second, while it is impossible to calculate or even understand the depth of the changes that the virus has activated or imposed on us, it is obvious that this change at the level of human attitudes and behavior is the most profound.

Change at the level of real people tends to be permanent, so we better understand how it is remade for both our clients and the people who work for us.

Third, and this is not an exhaustive list of considerations, but as difficult as the last two years have been for the people running the small business economy, the overall degree of difficulty continues to increase.

The factors include the current uncertainty about the supply of everything from building materials to computer chips, the evolving compact with our employees and the complicated race for talent, along with rising inflation, reduced access to capital and the cost of servicing any debt.

Not to mention the vagaries of Covid, even in a more stable relationship.

Running a small business has never been easy. But has it ever been that hard?

Either way, we’re certainly not going to feel overwhelmed or fatalistic, especially not after coming this far.

The path back to greater control, for me, begins with segmenting and separating macro-level issues from what is closest.

I find that it creates clarity about what is within or beyond my direct control.

Start with the market. Not the global economy, the market you serve directly.

When we look there, we find three types of people: customers and competitors, of course. And for me, our employees make the short list of the highest priority things that I directly influence.

“Client” has always seemed too open a word to me. So, generalizing broadly, and if you’re interested in the idea of ​​”finding them where they are”, I think it’s fair to assume that:

  • They are highly digital in their purchasing behaviors, and even more so as a result of Covid.
  • They expect to be treated as individuals, but trust the opinions of people in their networks.
  • They trust their own ability to research products and services.
  • They care about price, but they also want to buy from brands that reflect their personal values ​​and are increasingly interested in social and environmental issues.

That’s an interesting profile of customers today and tomorrow, especially considering that research by Top Design Firms finds that about a third of small businesses in the US still don’t have a web presence.

Related: 3 ways Covid-19 has changed the world of marketing

In terms of the workforce, people have always had choices about where to work, but never before have so many people exercised that choice at the same time and decided that the answer for now is nowhere.

When I think about the talent at Xero, and the fair deal between the company and its people, I have to admit that I can’t resolve all individual motivations. But I can hear.

This is a moment of deep reflection for people: about their time, about their value and what they value, about how they define flexibility, their vision of personal well-being; and their belief in the purpose of the places where they work.

Once we understand what matters to an individual, we can at least make sure we’re not missing out on something essential.

One last word on what I can control.

I think there has been a tendency, and I certainly saw it myself, to look for the latest news on the virus, but also, the stock market performance of that day, the cost of money, the shortage of supplies, the courts or political events.

I am choosing to do less of that. Staying informed doesn’t require an addictive connection to multiple news sources.

Instead, I want to be more intentional about reclaiming the time I’ve spent on the world’s macro-level issues and redirecting that time to listening to our workforce colleagues; listen to our customers and partners; and adjusting the value we deliver to each one.

Related: Why your health is the most important thing in this era of Covid-19

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