I was talking with my friend Brian Howard last week, and he made a simple point: “The world has changed in the past two weeks. That means our clients‘ jobs have changed — which means our jobs have changed.”
Now, more than ever, each of us needs to take a realistic look at what we need to do to remain relevant for our team members and customers. Not only will this help us keep our jobs, but it’s also the most helpful thing we can do to support others in this unusual time. And, this is especially important for startups in light of likely decreased funding from investors.
The best way I’ve found to creatively remain relevant is to design a new “Coronavirus Job Description” for myself. It is guiding how I show up for my team and clients and has created a roadmap for me to understand what I should be prioritizing on a daily and weekly basis. I hope you can use my descriptions and action points listed below as a guide for your own creative process to remain relevant and helpful. I shared my new job description with my colleagues and a few key stakeholders so that they’re all in the loop on exactly what my job will be for at least the next quarter.
My new job description
As of March 26th, 2020 (in no particular order of priority).
This time isn’t going to be easy. The world is unknown right now. My team is working through their own anxieties. My family is experiencing new normals. And, for each of us, our main job is to survive this. It’s not going to be easy or fun. Rather, it’s one of those times where we need to humble ourselves and realize it’s more important than ever to stay focused on loving and serving our clients, teams, and families.
The action: “Just keep moving like a shark.” This quote comes from an amazing woman named Debbie Danker who used to work at the Federal Reserve in D.C. In times full of anxiety or intense pressure, the only way to move out of that worry and fear is to take action. Otherwise, we become paralyzed. It’s vital that we just keep moving through our to-do lists, calls, and actions we need to do every day to support clients, teams, and families.
2. Take care of your clients.
With everyone having new literal or figurative jobs because of the coronavirus, my job is to figure out exactly what my clients need in this new world. Not because it’s good for business, but because it’s the best way to help other humans right now. We all have people in our spheres who we have the opportunity to support. If we can’t find ways to help them with their “new” jobs, they’ll find someone else who will.
The action: Call, email or text each current or prospective client. Follow up to make sure that they are getting what they need.
3. Understand and take care of your team.
This will be one of the toughest seasons for all of our teams. Many people are worried and confused about basic things such as how to get food. And, when we’re worried about food, it’s really hard to think about work in a productive way.
The action: Call each team member at least once a week. Make sure you understand how they’re doing and need support at this time. They’re also probably worried about the future so one of the best actions you can take is to give your team an authentic, data-driven view of how things are going.
4. Find opportunities.
Restaurants who have never done takeout are doing takeout. Corporate event companies are now providing virtual team-building exercises to keep teams connected. Gyms are offering virtual classes. Once we know the needs of our clients, it’s vital to change course and find opportunities to serve them.
The action: After listening to your clients, stop and step “outside” of the business. Go for a walk or a hike and synthesize all of the information that’s coming your way. Look for opportunities you can incorporate for your business. Start rolling those opportunities out in April.
5. Create new goals for the company.
The roadmaps we had for our companies this year probably need to be somewhat, if not completely, thrown out the window. Our company goals, and/or our clients’ goals, now have different objectives and goals, so what we do for them is going to change.
The action: Based on points two and three above, create a Q2 roadmap. You don’t know what the rest of the year looks like yet so, with what you know today about what your customers need, create a new roadmap. Put together the top 3–7 most important goals for your company and then do the same thing for each business unit and/or person on your team. This should be done by the end of March so you can hit the ground running in April.
6. Cut all unnecessary costs.
Now is not the time to be spending on anything extra. Take the time to understand what expenses can go out the door.
The action: Create a new Q2 budget that reflects these changes. If you have the time, create a budget for the next three quarters too, but right now it’s time to just survive so pay particularly close attention to Q2. You can probably hold off on travel, client meals, continuing education, and conference spending right now.
7. Appropriately forecast.
If we don’t understand what revenue will be coming in, we won’t be able to understand how to plan and staff our team appropriately to survive the crisis.
The action: Each week (or daily), talk with your business development and client success teams to understand what revenue will be coming into your business. Put this on a financial dashboard that your executive team is reviewing weekly.
8. Track revenue and expenses.
With limited information in a dynamic world, it’s vital to keep track of our cash situation. That way, I know if we need to make adjustments to expenses or revenue.
The action: Create an adjusted financial dashboard that is simple and goes over the most important metrics for the company. This should include, at a minimum, your actual/budgeted (Q2) revenue, actual/budgeted (Q2) expenses, cash in the bank, months of operating expenses, and A/R and A/P. Review this weekly.
9. Build new business operation systems today.
With everyone working from home, it’s vital to come up with new rhythms to stay connected. It’s also vital to create new systems to track everything discussed in point seven.
The action: Build in new meetings to connect with your team on a daily (or weekly) basis. And, make sure that your executive team is reviewing your financials on a weekly basis together.
10. Over-communicate with everyone.
With limited information in the world right now about what will happen, everyone is craving more information. Clients want to know what the world will look like. My team wants to know what their jobs will look like. And our executive team wants to know the latest information to be able to make actionable and relevant decisions.
The action: Share what you’re doing for each of these areas above with your team. Have them understand what you’re doing to survive, how each of them can find out what your clients need, how to find opportunities, and how the finances for the company look. And, most importantly, share with them at what point the company will have to make layoffs or do a reduction in hours. Finally, keep in constant contact with clients. Share exactly what you’re doing to support and hear from them during this crisis.
11. Stay mentally and physically healthy.
Our teams and clients need us more than ever. To provide the necessary help, it’s important to show up in a way that allows us to love and serve our teams and clients well.
The action: Stay steady as a CEO. The world is chaotic so remain calm, steady and focused. Be authentic. Do this in a way that is truthful. Get sleep, take breaks and continue to workout. Talk with friends.
Remain steady amidst the chaos.