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Perhaps the most challenging part of this for American Business owners, however, is the media’s constant reminders that 22 million Americans and counting, are now unemployed. No one understands that more profoundly than business owners. To us, these statistics are not numbers – they are people and families we know and love, have shared life experiences with, and have helped provide for.
This has been an extremely challenging time for all of us to process and digest. The truth is, however, that America’s businesses are resolute, and we will endure. Using this downtime as an opportunity to address deep woven inefficiencies within operations, for example, will allow companies to return even stronger.
This moment in time is temporary. We will continue to grow, and the tools we put in place right now will let us scale in this “new normal” which we are heading for.
America’s Businesses, Let’s Retool as we Reopen!
When the economy is rolling, companies naturally and rightfully so, give their attention to revenue growth and expansion opportunities. The current economic environment, however, does not give business owners the liberty to focus on growth.
Owners and business executives have shifted their attention to their employees, doing everything in their power to keep the doors open so their people can show up to work. This current experience reminds me in some ways of a biblical famine – we must strip down to the essentials, preserve resources, ask for help, and survive.
This then begs the question: How do we accomplish more with less?
Retooling our businesses for a strong “comeback” is maybe the most important thing we can be doing as business leaders right now! I have several close friends who are also business owners, and they are using this time to accelerate new digital product offerings and are leveraging technology to get closer to their teams and their customers. We’ve all used Zoom, or know somebody who has, to get closer to our teams. Amazingly, conference calls without video now seem to be strange to me, when it was the exact opposite 5 weeks ago.
We’ve watched how remote patient monitoring and telemedicine have helped healthcare workers take better care of patients and remain safe themselves. Another good friend of mine and his wife started one of the coolest and fastest-growing fitness companies. When their model of working in close-knit teams outside was temporary prohibited, they moved to digital training and workouts. They now have campers in each of the 50 states and many, many countries around the world, talk about a very nice retool.
They will emerge with an entirely new and complementary product offering. One of my favorite examples is a company called Vooks. The amazing and innovative team at Vooks has transformed digital screen time into a positive and character-building experience for children, and they are motivating our kids to learn and grow even when they can’t be in a classroom. It’s time to innovate, it’s time to retool!
Now, more than ever, we can use technology to help improve the way our people work and optimize the critical assets that power our businesses.
To those who haven’t yet leveraged technology to remotely monitor critical infrastructure, I strongly encourage you to consider doing so right now. Why? Because the results are profound. Yes, there are obvious and significant financial and operational benefits, but this transition to remote monitoring of infrastructure starts with our employees, the people we are trying to protect and retain in this tough time.
We need to help our people move up in their roles – away from the menial tasks of checking on “things” or constantly building spreadsheets and manual reports when those efforts can be automated. Instead of walking or driving around collecting data and putting into a clipboard or a keyboard, our team members can be interpreting the data and trends and helping to drive action that improves our businesses.
This transition helps to launch them into the knowledge worker journey, making them much more valuable to the business and allowing the businesses to train and compensate them well (even better than before). Why would any business owner want her people risking time, money, mileage, fuel, and safety when the technology to multiply their value is open, affordable, and available right now?
By employing the right technology, that same worker could be listening to and conducting a chorus of hundreds or thousands of key physical assets, each providing critical data by the minute or second. As business owners, when we make this happen, we not only made that person exponentially more valuable to our teams, but we’ve also helped multiply the value of their skills and their career in an ever-digitizing job market. Talk about doing more with less!
This is the imperative of the American Business Owner, not to bring value just to the bottom line and our shareholders, but also our people. This is how we meet the moment – we fulfill the commitments we made to our employees when we brought them on, to empower them to grow and create value for us now and in all their future endeavors.
Now is the time for American Business Owners to bolster their operations for unprecedented growth and resilience to downturns in the years to come. Through a combination of grit, innovation, and technology, a new echelon of business leaders will emerge from this unique pandemic. Why couldn’t that be you? Stop making excuses for remaining stuck in the status quo. Instead, use this catastrophe as an excuse to finally make the change you’ve always wanted. Become more efficient. Improve your safety record. Establish sustainability as an achievable goal. If you do this now, and you do it right, your shareholders – and your employees – will thank you for it.