The C-suite is undergoing a huge test right now. This is not a drill; the COVID-19 global pandemic is actively testing the limits of enterprise crisis planning. But what about the small business owner facing these new business models? Will small businesses, notorious for their lack of planning, survive the global shut down? How are enterprise organizations being put to the test? Here’s what we know so far, in the uncharted territory of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Enterprise Leadership Skills
Forbes suggests, “The key business issue is what functions are lost when the illness takes hold.” Existing disaster recovery plans many not address epidemics. Given the unknowns surrounding the spread of the coronavirus, it’s unlikely that any business is fully prepared.
Since the start of the epidemic, some big business c-suite exhibited their leadership skills by bolstering their business continuity plans. CIO reports that many enterprise organizations that were forced to place workers in their homes adapted time management software to keep control in an untenable situation. Many companies required workers to use employer laptops to lessen the odds of a cybersecurity incident. Others have set up call forwarding for workers to handle customer service calls from home.
But it is the transparent communication and authentic business leadership of executives like Marriott International’s Arne Sorenson, which inspired and provided a model for business continuity for the rest of us. CIO says communication is key during this crisis, and just as important as technology tools such as apps, data, cybersecurity, and bandwidth.
While enterprise organizations typically have business continuity planning to guide their efforts, even during the unknowns of COVID-19, many small businesses lack these planning documents. How are they holding up?
Businesses must reassess their risk profiles in the face of unprecedented pressures.
Small Business Leadership
Business leadership in small companies is getting a workout these days. Many have been forced closed or adapted their business models to a remote customer base to try to hold on long enough to outlast COVID-19.
But it doesn’t look good for many small companies. One prediction suggests this disruption could close 15,000 retail stores permanently in the U.S. Another suggests a loss of three million jobs by this summer.
Cash flow is always a problem for small businesses, but particularly now, with most states restricting business openings to those they deem essential. This massive disruption in consumer spending has hit small businesses like a big hammer; many will never reopen.
Business Continuity and Your Business
A new Goldman Sachs survey reveals that one-half of U.S. small businesses say they can’t hold on past the 90-day closure mark if COVID-19 runs into the summer. Small companies lack the deep pockets of the enterprise organization.
But business and government leadership in the U.S. are working to step up their responses to the pandemic:
- Small businesses can take out a low-interest loan through the Small Business Association.
- Tax payments are deferred for 90-days, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.
- American workers are getting stimulus checks and beefed-up unemployment benefits while some businesses are also getting a cash infusion from the government.
But the questions remain: What is next? Is this enough? Large and small companies must now reassess their risk profiles and readjust their roadmaps to prepare for what lies ahead.