The Time to Lead is Now: Small Business Strategy During Crisis


COVID-19 has required all of us to make changes, particularly small businesses.  They have needed to pivot away from their original plans and goals for 2020 in order to prioritize the health of their organization and of their employees.  Leadership Buffalo asked three leaders in the small business community how they’ve had to pivot over the past few months and what advice they have for other small businesses. 

Read what Erik Eustice from Of the Sea, Ryan Miller from T-Mark, and Alan Pawlowski from NextPoint LLC.

Streamlining Communication

You want to make sure you’re keeping your staff and your clients updated on how your organization is managing during the pandemic.  You’ll want to consider the following when crafting your communications:

Avoid Information Overload

Be considerate of the amount of information you’re relaying so that you’re not overwhelming your staff and clients.  For example, you can consider sending weekly emails rather than daily ones with pertinent updates.

Talk About Something Other Than COVID-19

All of your communications don’t have to be focused on the current COVID-19 updates.  Make sure to check in with your staff on how they and their families are doing.  When selecting the communications that will go out to your clients, include information about your business’s offerings in addition to communication related to the pandemic.

Managing Essential Workers

Managing essential workers during the pandemic requires a different set of priorities.

Connect Your Essential and Non-Essential Employees

If you have some employees working from the office/in the community and some working from home, you’ll want to make sure that everyone stays connected.  Even though some employees may be able to meet in person, video conferencing can be a helpful tool to ensure that all employees stay connected.

Protect Your Employees

Make sure your staff feels comfortable and protected in your workplace or out in the community.  Provide items such as masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, etc.  Implement protocol for employees to interact with each other and your clients if anything needs to happen in person.

Meet your employees where they’re at.  Check in with them and makes sure that everyone is able and willing to continue to work in person.  If you’re able to, allow employees who are compromised, who have an immediate family member working in healthcare, or who are uncomfortable work from home or take hardship leave.

Protecting Your Financial Health

One of the biggest concerns for a small business during COVID-19 is how it will affect the financial health of the organization.  Our small business leaders provided best practices to implement during this time of uncertainty.

Conserve Your Cash

Take a look at your current expenses to see where you can conserve cash.  Look into deferring loans if you can and speed up payments you were going to receive.  Consider postponing non-essential programs and projects to the future to further conserve resources.

Utilize Government Support

There are two types of government loans you can apply for to offset the negative economic impact of the pandemic.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

Build a 2021 Budget

Though we’re currently in a state of uncertainty, that doesn’t mean you can’t begin to build your budget for 2021.  You’ll need to make a few assumptions looking ahead to 2021.  For example, you could build a budget on the assumption that 2021 will be comprised of three months of chaos, three months of rebuilding, and six months of normalcy.

While your estimations may be incorrect, it will help to frame your brain to begin thinking about next year’s budget. 

Managing Changes

As you’re managing the changes within your small business, remember to take time for self-care as well.  You’ll be able to better motivate and support your team if you are taking time for yourself as well.

With these best practices, you’ll be able to easily manage each of the changes you’ll need to make on our way back to normalcy.