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The Business World as we know it has changed forever and it has only taken a few short weeks for this to happen. This statement may have been bold 4 weeks ago, but seems clear now? Consider the fact that businesses that were once thriving have been forced to close their doors with little to no notice. All industries have been affected from yoga studios, gyms, chiropractors, hair salons, and so many more. Other businesses were forced to adapt in some way. Entire offices have had to brainstorm ways that enable everyone in the office to work remotely from home. Some professional offices have kept “by appointment only” meetings when they had a need to receive signatures or documents. These companies had to become creative with how they could complete business in their office locations while social distancing. Contractors and tradesmen have continued to work on projects and use their own tools and keep their distance from co-workers. Grocery stores and other essential retailers, who have remained open, installed plexiglass, created separate entrance and exits, and installed arrows and laneways so customers can safely navigate through the store. Millions of people whether working or not are staying home – and so are the kids.

Education has been one of the most affected industries. Parents who have previously relied on teachers to provide optimal education for their children have now had to navigate home schooling for subjects that they have not studied in years. Teachers accustomed to educating in a classroom are now having to manage lessons through technology that they have previously not used. Children who are used to scheduled classroom visits are now learning their entire curriculum via phone or video conferencing

I’ve been working with clients (business owners) over the past few weeks and discussing how to deal with incredible stress and uncertainty, how to readjust plans, how to discuss options with employees, if they should close their doors, how to evaluate cash flow, how to continue revenue income, how to navigate working remotely, how to reduce expenses, how to be a successful leader, and how to make the right judgemental calls – the list goes on. The one thing I am certain with, is that all business owners I have worked with are resilient and have the ability to adapt to change.

To say these are unprecedented times is an understatement, and to think this will not change the landscape of business forever is also an understatement. What will the future look like? Will some businesses who have closed be able to open their doors again? Will more people continue to work remotely once “normal” has returned? Will people become comfortable with close contact again, especially at events and work seminars? Will we hug or shake hands in greeting again?

There are numerous changes to consider. How will this pandemic change the way we do business moving forward? Individuals will most likely continue to work remotely, because they have learned how to successfully work productively from their home office. In the near future, we will probably be hesitant to join larger crowds in fear of someone coughing or sneezing. Traveling is a giant question mark due to the close quarters of individuals on planes, ships, trains, and other means. Speaking of travel, each country has been affected in different ways from this pandemic.

Is there anything we can do while waiting for this pandemic to end? I say yes! If you are an owner of a business that has been closed in this current global situation, how are you dealing with it? Are you being proactive and doing all you can to reach out to your clients to ask how they are doing? Are you contacting your suppliers to discuss their wellbeing? Are you in contact with your business team, and communicating with them regularly? Asking your employees how they are doing and if there is any way you can assist them, gives them reassurance that you will have them return to work. The last thing you want to do is give up and become stagnant, unless you are taking a much-needed break. If that’s the case, you deserve that time off.  Waiting for answers is not proactive as you will not receive any clarity in a timely manner.  I encourage you to plan what you can and be ready when you need to be. If you wait, you will probably be too late out of the gate. And the doors are beginning to crack open already.

It is important to remember that we are all in this together, and your clients still need your business. While closed or operating with limitations, do what you can to use this time wisely. Complete some planning so you may make improvements. Great questions to ask yourself are how can you make it better, and how can you come out the other side with a plan and a team that’s ready when we get the green light? What are the steps you need to make in order to re-open? What changes do you need to make? What if you need to order differently?  Are your regular supplies out of stock? What if you need to install plexiglass or order PPE?  Are you ready and have you planned proper precautions?

We are dealing with a future that is uncertain and we have all gone through an extreme amount of change. Uncertainty and change are two things that can shake us to the core, but as a wise client said to me this week, “When the wind changes, you reset your sails”. Instead of worrying about the now and the future, use that energy to do what you can for your business, for your team, for your customers, for your managers, and for yourself.  Give yourself thanks for being as resilient as you are.  I for one look forward to doing business with you as soon as we are able!

The sad reality is, not every business will be able to reopen. More shopping will be done on-line, more offices will enable their workforce to work remotely, restaurants will have less seating and more take out options, and there will be more teaching online. The real estate landscape will change drastically. If more people are shopping on-line, working remotely, picking up their dinner, and learning on-line, what will happen to the retail outlets, the offices, the restaurants, and the schools over time, just to name a few? Just some thoughts about the changing landscape of business.

Written by Cindy Piva, President and CEO of Thrive Business Strategies, a business coaching and consulting firm that specializes in working with CEO’s, business owners and leaders to proactively and strategically help them identify their vision and purpose and align it with their core values.  From there we then help them identify priorities such as streamlining operations, improving company culture, hiring strategically, improving leadership, and as a result, increase their bottom line.