Turn Quarantine into a Business Retreat
Stuck working from home for the next two weeks? While some businesses may experience minimal disruption working from home, others may find the quarantine leaves them with an uncomfortable amount of time on their hands. This doesn’t have to be the case. As small business owners, we often spend so much time working in our business (helping clients, providing services, selling, billing) that we don’t have the time to work on our business. A two-week period with a reduced workload is a great time to take care of all of those things that you’ve been saving for “when you just have a little more time”.
Hopefully, your employees working from home is minimally disruptive to them. Some industries, such as legal or accounting, may find that a quarantine only impacts a small amount of day-to-day business. Switching to phone or video becomes more common than in-person and a few resources may be lost, but the overall impact is minimal. If that’s the case, you may not even need this post!
If, on the other hand, you have employees who simply cannot do their work from home, you may be considering how to balance keeping employees safe by keeping them paid – or busy. Rotating schedules may be a reasonable way to balance out minimizing contact and keeping an office or front desk staffed. Several businesses have taken to having employees wear gloves, increase cleaning frequency, and minimizing human contact. Cutting downtime that the employees are exposed to may also help while keeping you running.
If keeping a front desk open is not necessary, though, and working from home only provides for less than 60% of the time that is typically guaranteed an employee, you may consider other jobs or alternatives for your employees. Is there a particular training that has been overdue that can be done by video or online? Have you had your teams evaluate their goals lately? Are there processes that happen in particular departments that you would like your team to take the time to revamp? Are there thank you notes or client follow-ups that haven’t been done due to lack of time? Are there blogs that can be written and stockpiled for future days? What about research articles? Do you have deliverables that have not been revamped in a few years? Take a look at what has been on your employees’ rainy day list and have them fill that time now. It may not help billables, but it will help you get ahead for when work is back on track.
As an owner, the legal, financial, marketing, and planning tasks can seem to pile up. You push them off until you have time or until your external professionals tell you that you are out of time. Now, you may have the time. What luck!
The first thing to do is look at your “required” list and see what you’ve either missed or could get done slightly early. Did you hold your annual meeting for the year yet? Is it scheduled within the next couple of months? Your annual meeting may be a way to keep your corporate veil from being pierced – if you’ve never had one, this is a great time to start. An annual meeting is also a great time to review your contracts, foundational documents, and other legal documents to make sure that they are up to date and consistent with the way you are running your business.
The next thing to do is look at your “best practices” list and determine what you have been meaning to do to put you in better shape but haven’t had the time for. This may include creating document retention policies, employee handbooks, and privacy policies. If you don’t have any contracts, now might be the time to see if you need them. Protecting your intellectual property may also be high on the list. Have you been using a great logo for a few months, but haven’t checked to see if it infringes someone else? Now may be a great time to do that.
Finally, look at your “wish list” items. This may be doing an executive report based on where your business plan said you should be and where you are. It may be conducting an intensive audit on your expenses and seeing where you can save money. It might be developing those programs that you’ve been meaning to provide to your clients and haven’t had the time. It may even be catching up on that reading list for books to better your business or industry. Let’s be honest – as business owners, our wish list is longer than even a two-week quarantine can cover.
If you are a small business owner who has been experiencing some growth but hasn’t had the time for everything you need to do, now may be a good time to actually record some processes and create some systems. Often, when small businesses start, the owner is doing everything themselves. As they start to experience success, some of that has to be outsourced – but that costs time and money! By creating simple processes and procedures for the things you do most often, much of the time-expense can be mitigated – and often some of the monetary expense as well.
Systemizing is also good for solo-preneurs, because it helps create a plan for if something were to happen to you. A quarantine has everyone thinking through emergency contingencies, from hoarding toilet paper to how best to work. If something were to happen to you, what would happen to your business? Who would reach out to your clients? Now is a good time to think about what that looks like, create a plan, and make sure that it is written somewhere it can do some good, not just float around in your brain.
At Polaris Law, we hope everyone stays healthy and safe during the upcoming weeks. If you need some help with any of the above ideas, feel free to reach out. We are open, even remotely!