After Forest Fires and Pandemics: How to Prepare for Growth

Forests are amazing places. It’s been shown that there’s more life in one square foot of forest than there are human beings on the planet. One scientist remarked “it would take more than a lifetime simply to document the diversity of life in one cubic foot.” What’s more, it’s the life that lives underground that makes what you see above ground possible.

That’s why when there are huge forest fires that rage across the landscape burning everything in sight, as terrible as they are, they’re never the end of the forest’s story. If you come back in a few months, you’ll see all kinds of plant life beginning to pop through the former-forest’s floor. Give it a year, and you’ll not recognize that a fire’s even been there. A decade? Not only will you have a forest, again, but it will have an even more diverse life in it than before the fire.

Right now, the world that we once knew has been going through an economic forest fire. The above-ground ‘trees’ that we used for landmarks are no longer visible, and it is easy to give in to the fear that we may never recover. But like the forest landscape, we too can recover and it will all be due to the beneath-the-surface life that was part of our companies all along.

So the question you need to ask yourself is, “Is my business positioned for what comes next?” Here are some things to consider as you answer that question.

RELATIONALLY: COMMUNICATION WITH EMPLOYEES AND CUSTOMERS IS VITAL

A big part of growing any business, as well as keeping employees and customers once it has been established, is consistent, honest communication. One thing we’ve learned since March, we don’t know what tomorrow brings. We need to be honest about that fact with ourselves as business owners, but also with our employees and with our customers.

Hopeful honesty goes a long way in quelling fears that our business is in a freefall or that we’re not doing anything to plan for the future. If you’ve laid-off employees, let them know when you plan to rehire them. It’s okay that you don’t have definitive answers—frequent communication is key. If your location(s) has been closed or has been able to partially reopen, don’t forget to reach out to your customers via social media or email and let them know how you’re doing, what you’re able to do for them, and what your short term plans are in regards to opening up. By sharing what’s going on with you, they will feel a connection to your story and want to take part.

HEALTHFULLY: CONDUCT A HEALTH AUDIT FOR THE GOOD OF YOUR COMMUNITY

The reason we’ve all had to change our lives around since spring is that there are real health concerns due to how easily the COVID-19 virus spreads. We still don’t have all the answers about this virus, but the CDC and many local governments do have some key guidance as to how you should run your business in the midst of this pandemic. It is important that you know what is necessary for you to do to keep your employees and customers safe in the realm of your business!

Once you’ve looked through the health guidance that has been given, go through your business and identify potential hazards and find opportunities to solve those problems in a way that benefits your workers and patrons. (Hint: not every solution has a large cost associated with it.) Remember, you want to communicate that you can be trusted to your employees and customers. Do what you can to prove that you deserve their respect and business.

FINANCIALLY: REDUCE YOUR WORST DEBTS SO YOU CAN SURVIVE

Any loan you’ve taken out through the Small Business Administration (SBA) may not have to be paid back right away. Make sure you fully understand the terms of the loan and discuss any questions you may have with an accountant, financial professional, or lawyer. Note: the SBA’s debt relief program may automatically defer your payments through the end of 2020. If you have loans outside the SBA, get in touch with your lender and develop a payment plan that works best for you.

CONCLUSION

What we do now will play a part in determining how we come out of the smoke of this pandemic. We’re not saying it is easy, but if we can care for our businesses, employees, and customers in relationally loving, healthfully faithful, and financially sound ways, we will be opening up the forest floor of our companies to see the life that is at work—and that life will produce seedlings that will grow into a forest over time if we do the things necessary to keep our businesses going. If you need help keeping your business going, we would love to be the ones to serve you! You can call us at (888) 272-7102 or drop us a note. We look forward to helping your forest grow!

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Jul 22, 2020
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