As weeks turn into months of the coronavirus crisis, wait-and-see is turning into decision time for small business owners.
While certain functions within the campaign industry are positioned better than most to weather this downturn (hello, digital folks, enjoy your surge), we all still have to take a hard look at the practical, long-term implications for our organizations.
One of the biggest considerations firm owners and partners have to make in this environment is related to staffing. As the latest job numbers indicated last Friday, employers in other parts of the economy had no choice but to cut their staff as community stay-at-home orders choked off their revenue. Concern about a Depression-era unemployment rate is real.
Here’s what small firm owners should be thinking about right now:
I understand that you might be tempted to lay off or furlough staff to save costs, but make sure that you’re looking at the situation rationally. Staff is more expensive to replace than you realize, and remember: the Small Business Administration through the PPP is providing forgivable loans to ensure that you can continue to pay your people. Only let someone go if their performance or function really isn’t contributing to the long-term goals of your organization.
Be fair to anyone you’re letting go.
If you do decide to downsize, make sure that you’re taking care of your people. Extend their pay and health benefits for at least a month, and help them find a new gig if you can. It’s tough out there right now, and people will remember those who were kind to them when it mattered.
Hire while the market is soft.
If you had plans to grow this year, don’t abandon those plans. The next few months are a great time to hire with top talent out on the market who wouldn’t have been available to you otherwise. The businesses that will come out of this the best are the ones who can push past their fear and invest wisely now, while everything is cheap.
These are trying times, but many businesses will survive and thrive by staying logical, putting one foot in front of the other, and making rational, strategic investments.
Don’t overlook interns.
As the economy shrinks, so does the scope of opportunity for people who are just entering the workforce. This is a fantastic time to scoop up the future industry stars of tomorrow.
Offering paid internships is a win-win: they get a chance to learn from someone great in a real-world scenario, and you get to train future entry-level talent to do things exactly the way you want them done while auditioning them for a permanent position. If you’ve got more time on your hands than you’d like right now, invest it here while you can.
Michelle Coyle is the founder of BGSD Strategies.