We are facing uncertain times, as this pandemic continues to affect people all around the world. We have all been forced to stay home, pause and readjust to a new normal. However, for many, it is business as usual or as best as they can.
The fear and uncertainty of the effects of COVID-19 on business owners are likely to be substantial. Entrepreneurs are being forced to make significant pivots to continue operating and many are worried about the future. I know that many entrepreneurs are looking for tips, guidance and answers so I took this opportunity to speak to two amazing female trailblazers in their respective fields, Briea Chanel Clark, Entrepreneur and Marketing Mentor and Marissa Taffer, Founder and President of M. Taffer Consulting. I have to say, it was extremely informative and I know that no matter what type of business you are in, there is a valuable take away from their responses.
Get ready for some girl talk!
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced working from home during this pandemic?
Briea: I usually work from home and I typically meet with clients in-person but that isn't possible now due to the pandemic.
Marissa: I worked from home before the pandemic, but this is different. Before the pandemic, I made sure to get out of the house and be with my clients and partners as much as possible. This meant networking lunches or coffees, meeting for a networking event or a drink, or taking exercise classes at a local gym or studio. Being connected is so important and all of these things are not possible right now.
What have you done to overcome this challenge?
Briea: I use Zoom to schedule video conferences with clients and it has been a life saver for me. You still get that one on one interaction but from the comfort and safety of our homes.
Marissa: I (and many others) have moved this connection to online spaces. I meet friends for coffee or a drink via zoom, I check on people in my network. I ask people how they are and if they need anything and share any resources I have freely.
Are there new things you have learned during this quarantine period that you will take with you once the lockdown is over?
Briea: Yes, absolutely I've learned that authenticity and transparency will always be the key to winning in life and business. At the end of the day we all crave connection and meaningful relationships.
Marissa: My biggest takeaway is that we are all being very creative and adapting to the situation. I hope that what I will have learned from this is that I can think on my feet and adapt to whatever is going on. From a business standpoint figuring out how to make this work will continue to help me strengthen the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will serve my business and clients for years to come.
What is one advice you would give to someone struggling with productivity?
Briea: Wow, I have a few lol. Take a break from whatever it is you're working on and come back to it. Watch a motivational video or read inspirational blog posts to help you remember your why. Only work during your peak hours and always complete the task that will give you the greatest ROI (return on investment) first.
Marissa: Stop trying to be productive all the time. If you know your most productive hours are early in the morning or evening use that to your advantage and focus your energy on getting as much as you can done during your most productive hours. Outside of that, do what feels good. Make sure your home is clean, you have the supplies you need and you're able to move your body and connect with others. While these are the things that work for ME everyone needs to find their own way, but if I could offer one piece of advice it would be to carve out time for focused work and use the rest of the time in whatever way feels good for you. Even if that means resting, playing with your kids if you have them, or binging some TV or a trashy magazine!
How can others take steps today to best position their company or work to most profitably serve their customers or company as these shifts are happening?
Briea: Engage with your audience, engage with your employees. Listen to their needs. Empathize with them. Connect with leaders in your field to grow in resources and ideas.
Marissa: Try to slow down and think about the long term. Maybe you aren't as busy, maybe you have fewer customers but make sure you are serving those you do have in the best way possible. Communicate, go above and beyond, ask your clients and customers what they need. Also, be flexible, the information we have is changing sometimes from day to day so be patient and listen to the experts. If you make a decision that you are second-guessing, look at what it would take to reverse or change it. We don't know what the coming weeks will bring so continuing to be transparent, vulnerable and flexible is what will serve you.
What steps can others take today to mitigate the risks to their company born out of Coronavirus?
Briea: If possible, lower overhead costs and trim budgets (hopefully without having to lay off employees). Go digital. For example, a yoga studio could begin offering online classes. Create bundle deals to attract new customers and upsell to potential leads.
Marissa: Reduce spending where it makes sense. Don't be tone deaf or pushy in your sales or marketing efforts right now. Research and apply for any aid that may be available to you - while this is time-consuming if it can help keep your business moving forward
What big opportunities do you believe exist for people and your own company born out of this situation?
Briea: I believe that there is an opportunity for entrepreneurs like myself to educate those who have been called to build multiple sources of income online. Many of us have been preparing for tough times like these since 08'. So there's an opportunity to share the tools and knowledge we've gathered over the past decade to help others succeed.
Marissa: I think those who can figure out how to adapt and serve others are the ones that will survive and thrive. Also, if the use of hand sanitizer continues after the lifting of some of the social distancing measures, companies who are selling sanitizers may also see some big profits for months or years to come!
I want to thank these amazing women for taking the time to share their knowledge and experiences with us.