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5 Tips for Business Owners Facing Unprecedented Challenges

From relying on core values to preparing beyond current circumstances, leaders can navigate the COVID-19 crisis by following this advice.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused businesses across all verticals and countries to pivot their operations. From temporary closures of brick and mortar locations to an increased reliance on technology, brands are making changes to their processes seemingly on the fly.

To help business owners and brand leaders navigate how to problem solve in the age of coronavirus, 1851 spoke with Chris Fisher, founder and CEO of Shine Franchise Group, and Tammy Savage, co-founder and CEO of Groopit, an enterprise crowdsolving platform. 

Here are the top five pieces of advice that they provided:

Have Real-Time Visibility Into Issues

One of the biggest challenges that leaders are facing today is the ever-changing nature of this unprecedented pandemic. Because there isn’t consistency with updates surrounding the pandemic or how to respond, it’s important for business owners to have access to as much real-time information as possible.

“The most prevalent challenge for leaders is that the problems they are trying to solve emerge and evolve faster than their organizations can move,” said Savage. “Right now, leaders are trying to identify, prioritize, and solve problems as fast as they can. However, by the time leaders understand what is happening on the frontlines, the situation and nuances of the problem have already changed. They lack real-time visibility into problems and progress — and that slows recovery down for everyone. The faster an organization can move through the problem solving, the faster they will recover.”

Filter Everything Through Core Values

In order to best direct their employees, leaders need to have guiding principles behind their decisions. According to Fisher, the best way to do that is by adhering to core values.

“We have a culture of caring at Shine where we serve positive energy, and we’re a culture that really cares about each other and our customers,” said Fisher. “Positivity is what we’re focused on as we’re working through this.”

Think Beyond COVID-19

While the current situation is forcing businesses to evolve rapidly, it’s also important for business owners to remember that things will calm down eventually. The decisions that are made now when it comes to problem-solving should also provide value down the line.

“[Leaders] need to move beyond working with their COVID-19 task force or core team and form an extended team that includes all dependent and independent decision-makers to crowdsolve issues,” said Savage. “For example, an extended team can be formed to include all franchise owners in order to work together on COVID-19 recovery. If you treat your franchise owners like an extended team you’ll enable them to contribute data, update processes, and raise issues as they happen in real-time. Leaders need the extended team made up of franchise owners to surface progress in addition to problems. It is just as important to bring to light key milestones reached — such as reopening, reworking business flow for social distancing, and return of workers — as it is to identify issues. By defining progress and asking the extended team to report about it consistently, you will be facilitating best practice sharing and encouraging people to persevere.”

Leverage Technology

Technology innovation is another way in which leaders can navigate the current situation. Rather than relying on the systems and processes used in the past, businesses now have the opportunity to implement new and improved digital strategies.

“This has caused us to use technology in a way in which we can get back to ingenuity,” said Fisher. “Good times can create a sense of status quo, but COVID-19 has caused everyone to reevaluate their businesses from top to bottom. Now we can implement different strategies, over communicate with our clients and work even harder. Moving out of this current crisis, we’re talking about the opportunity that’s facing us. We’re excited for our franchisees to continue thinking outside the box in terms of how they can reach and serve customers.”

Be Prepared for Anything

Technology isn’t the only area in which businesses need to think outside the box. As consumer behavior continues to shift due to the COVID-19 crisis, it’s important for leaders to think about how they would handle this situation if something similar were to ever happen again.

“The thing that is consistent across every crisis is that they are unpredictable, from the problems that will need to be solved to the people who will solve them and the actions everyone needs to take,” said Savage. “Organizations need a simple way for the extended team to do this fluid, complex work, fast. They need to build their crowdsolving capabilities so that they can handle anything that comes their way.”