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  • Ellen Owens-Karcsay

The business of getting back to business: 5 Tips

I was listening to the news this morning, from my spin bike on my private gym (aka, back patio), and the question was posed to the listeners “What is the one thing you will do when Arizona opens back up for business?” A timely subject given that Georgia has announced they are re-opening next week and other states are soon to follow.

I suppose a good portion of the population may answer that question with fundamental answers like; find work; go to a restaurant, or get back to the gym.

I would like to ask a similar question to the business community:

What will be your priority when you resume operations?


I can imagine that this will be hard to answer, given that there is still a significant degree of uncertainty and more questions than answers. That said, it is critical to have a plan for a variety of scenarios. It’s hard to plan for any possible combination of events or circumstances, but I believe that any level of planning is better than none at all.

Below are five tips to get started with scenario planning regardless if you are a for-profit small business, a large-sized nonprofit organization, or anything in between.

1. Write down all of the possible “Day 1” scenarios. What if the stay at home orders are lifted, and businesses go back as if they just woke up from a long hibernating sleep? Perhaps not likely, but it could happen. Although it may seem like doomsday thinking, plan for the very worst-case scenario. What if there is a spike and the shut down is extended for 12 months? Don’t spend time debating the level of likelihood of it happening, just brainstorm the possibilities.

2. Engage your leadership team and board of directors. Coming up with plausible scenarios is an engaging activity to do off-line with your leaders. Yes, I said off-line. I do not recommend doing this as a virtual meeting. Ask your leaders to come up with a list of 5 plausible scenarios. To make the collection more efficient, I recommend using Google Forms to collect this information. Identify themes or common thoughts and synthesize them into a list of 5 plausible scenarios.

3. Leverage Mind Mapping: Mind mapping is a simple, visual method to brainstorm, plan, and problem-solving. There are many tools available for online mind mapping, but you can also grab a blank piece of paper and some pens or pencils. Although mind mapping should inspire a free flow of connected thoughts, however, some individuals may find it hard to get started. Process mapping or simple lists may be a more manageable approach.

4. Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPI): How will you measure it? Regardless of which scenario becomes a reality, you will need to monitor your business based on your plans. Keep it simple but make it relevant and realistic. For example, if your business is manufacturing, production at pre-COVID levels may not be practical. Consider leading indicators so you can be proactive versus reactive Leverage data to help you make decisions versus emotions or rumors.

5. Ask for help: Several businesses are dependent upon your success. Many companies have been offering their services or solutions for free or at significantly discounted rates. To avoid the trap of becoming the target of scams, engage a trusted advisor to help you evaluate which offerings could benefit you most. These businesses are dependent upon your business, so they genuinely want to see you succeed.

Hopefully, this information will spur thought on this vital topic and help you wrap your mind around getting back to business!

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