"With commerce drying up and the service economy grinding to a halt in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that business leaders, from the captains of industry to mom and pop bakeries, take pains to navigate this crisis carefully and deliberately. This is not the time to panic. Businesses can survive this," says Liz Elting--founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, New York--who shepherded her company TransPerfect from a dorm-room startup into a billion-dollar enterprise through both 9/11 and the 2008 financial meltdown.
Here are her nine necessities for business survival in a crisis:
Reassure your team. "You cant predict the future, but you must do what you can to provide calm, steady leadership by renewing your commitment to the people who work for you."
Have backup plans for your backup plans. "Much of the world is lurching suddenly over to primarily work-from-home arrangements, which come with their own set of problems. Tools like conference call systems are being overwhelmed by volume beyond capacity, so you need to know what you're going to do when your plans fall through. The whole world is rushing to find technological solutions, and that's going to take time. Plan accordingly."
Maintain person-to-person contact. "After 9/11, flights in the U.S. were grounded for weeks, which meant that business travel was impossible. Thankfully, here in 2020, we have tools we didn't have 19 years ago to keep in touch. That means that it's time to back off from email and text and engage more over voice or video. Don't become a disconnected presence."
Engage in proactive communication. "You need to make sure your team and customers know what's happening step by step. Stay connected; stay together; and make sure your team knows they're not alone. You need to up your communication game, and that extends to clients as well. See what they need, because their needs are changing day by day."
ABC--always be closing. "You need to hustle like you've never hustled before. There will be a strong tendency for potential clients to grow timid in these uncertain times, but the same goes for your competition. Be forthright; be out there; offer solutions to the problems of this...