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Pivot Part 2: Assess and Educate

Let’s get back to where we left off in Part 1: Pivot!, I wanted to go into more detail about the steps we took, the organizations that stepped up in a big way and how we set 8THIRTYFOUR up to move forward.

To say life changed overnight for us would be an understatement, it was like all that we knew was turned on its head and we had to start rebuilding immediately. What I’m going to share with you below, we outlined in less than 24 hours and implemented in less than 48 hours. There are 4 phases – assess, educate, plan and action; we’ll cover the first two in this blog. We are still in the action phase, which we anticipate will last us for a while.

The reason we were successful, was because we acted quickly, we had tough, honest discussions as a leadership team, we each had a role and we took ownership and because our culture was built on honesty, transparency, and empathy. If we were not an EOS company and we didn’t have the existing culture we had, I can honestly say we would be one of the businesses that closed our doors forever.

Step 1: Assess:

As soon as we lost business, we took a hard look at our finances, current workload, and asked ourselves the following:

  1. What $$ was anticipated within the next 30 days? What did we actually expect to receive?
  2. With that revenue number in hand, we then took a look at expenses – utilities, rent, salaries, technology, and more. What could we cut? Where could we negotiate? What could we delay?

We had our numbers, we had our projections and now we needed to anticipate next steps:

  1. If we cut staff, would the workload be manageable for the remaining staff? What slack would leadership need to pick up?
  2. If cutting staff isn’t enough, how much could we scale back salaries temporarily and still retain employees?
  3. What other clients would we lose? How would this impact us on a monthly basis?
  4. What options are out there for us for financial support?

We imagined the worst-case scenario and then we planned back from there.

Step 2: Educate

I honestly believe this is an area where a lot of businesses dropped the ball, and it caused a lot of anger and ultimately some pretty disgusting protests at the capital. At the end of the day, you can only control what you can control and you gotta suck it up and move forward. This shit is hard on everyone, I have zero tolerance for whining and anger. It is your job as a business owner to educate yourself and explore every possible resource out there, instead of sitting around bitching about how unfair life is. Do that by yourself with a bottle of wine, your employees deserve better.

In the beginning, no one had any idea on how long this would last, how our businesses would be affected, or what we could even do to offset the inevitable hurt coming our way.

The following organizations, associations, and companies were our lifeline.

  1. Small Business Association of Michigan: Each day at 3:00 p.m., SBAM held briefings to share the latest news, resources, and what small businesses could expect moving forward. Every single day, including weekends. It was invaluable, they pivoted their entire operation and all staff was focused on COVID-19 and helping small businesses navigate the new normal. This was how we got the much-needed clarification on the PPP (paycheck protection program).
  2. Grand Rapids Chamber: I wasn’t personally on these calls, but our office manager was. The topics ranged from laying off employees, PPP, financial assistance, insurance and safely reopening. I have never been more grateful for my membership.
  3. Hungerford Nichols: Our accounting firm is a bunch of badasses. They checked in, just to see how we were and answered the countless questions we had around taxes and PPP. Heather, their marketing person sent me messages each week with words of encouragement. I love this company.
  4. West Michigan Law: Our lawyer Adam is funny, sarcastic and blunt – it’s everything you could ever want for legal representation. I had the most random questions for him and texted him at all hours. In response, I got sound advice and some pretty great memes.

Let’s be honest, anything the government put out was unclear and difficult to navigate, these organizations stepped up in a big big way, working around the clock to help us. It wasn’t just companies, it was the countless people that reached out to me and the list is long. I had the support of other business owners, friends, colleagues, and family. I wrote a note for these peeps, I’ll share access to soon.

In part 3 of this riveting blog series, I’ll tackle the planning and action phase.


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Hi, I'm Kim!
Writer of musings.

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