Companies are now facing a unique task in having to manage through the COVID-19 pandemic while simultaneously considering contingency plans for an uncertain future. Minority and small business owners have to consider their approach separately from that of more established or scale-up companies for a number of reasons. For example, minority owned businesses are reported to have more difficulty acquiring small business loans and making it past the five year hump. Biases and systemic short comings simply make it more difficult for them to opperate successfully. Small Business Commissioner and CEO of Quantasy + Associates, Will Campbell breaks down what small and minority business owners need to begin implementing now in order to make it through the pandemic and further economic uncertainty.
Business owners, those that can, should ask themselves, “What can we do to help?” That’s the core essence of running a business. Identifying and delivering on customer needs during this crisis will make all the difference.
It is important for struggling businesses to quickly identify the resources that are available to them. This could include reaching out to local and state government agencies for relief sources or proactively reaching out to as many business relationships as possible – from banking and suppliers or vendors – to find out what options they have to bridge this uncertain gap.
Additionally, ask your most loyal customers if there is any way you can continue to help or serve them until your full business operations can resume. Consider ways to digitize your offerings or provide your offerings through more digital outlets. For example, if you’re not already using them, many of the social platforms have created easy-to-integrate social commerce tools.
Our approach has been four-pronged:
1. Business Continuity
We developed a plan to keep business operations ongoing as closely as possible to what we were doing pre-pandemic. This includes holding status meetings and creative brainstorms and engaging in proactive audience and insight development. We set up remote working protocols and procedures to continue delivering on our clients needs.
2. Business Reality
Even with all of the continuity planning we can implement, we understand that there is no longer any “business as usual” option. Things are different. We implemented a plan to account for the new realities we face. Internally, we considered how we could help employees to create more flexible work conditions, understanding they may have kids at home during the day. Externally, we set up structured agreements with some of our vendors in an effort not to put additional stress on their businesses. For example, we have kept certain service providers’ contracts in tact even though we are unable to take full advantage of their service during this time.
3. Business Development
During this time, we still need to drive business and opportunities for growth. With all the things we are seeing, how do we not fall victim to the economic impact? This is when we need to learn to forge ahead and ask ourselves how we can pivot to grow stronger from this. We are having many conversations with existing and prospective clients about how we can use our cultural insights and digital innovation expertise to help their businesses succeed.
4. Business Transformation
When this does get under control, a new market will emerge and this massive event will have had a huge effect on the world. Many things will never return to the way they were. We have undergone a transformation by asking ourselves, “What business do we need to be at that point to thrive and what we need to start doing today to become that business?
Will Campbell is Commissioner on the Los Angeles County Small Business Commission and Chairman and CEO at Quantasy + Associates, LLC. Since founding Quantasy, the agency has received a number of awards including being named by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s fastest growing private companies in 2018. Will has used his unique method of blending advertising, technology, entertainment and culture to deliver business growth results for world-class clients including Google, Lionsgate, American Honda and Wells Fargo Bank.