Resources To Navigate Your Business During These Times
There is so much information about COVID-19, I have put together some information I thought would be helpful.
As always, I’m here to offer any guidance you need on concerns about your business and business continuity.
This too we shall overcome!
5 Steps To Rise Above The Fear Of COVID-19 And Focus On Growing Your Business
In a matter of just a few short weeks, we have gone from living how we’ve always lived to changing just about everything we do. Schools are out for weeks if not months. Cruises have stopped sailing, and air transportation may be next. Bars and restaurants are closing, sporting events are nonexistent and so many people are now unemployed. If you watch the news or follow social media and see the number of infected keep rising, you can’t help but wonder when (or if) life will return to normal.
As a result of these unprecedented life changes in such a short amount of time, so many people today are frozen in fear. They don’t know what they can do and what they can’t do. They’re numb, fearful and questioning everything.
I believe that the accomplished and determined business owners in our world are facing a unique brand of fears: Will I lose sales and revenue due to the coronavirus? What if I have to lay people off? How can I keep my team and keep them working hard? How will I continue to provide for my family? How long will this last?
Here are five steps you can start taking now to stop being frozen in fear and move forward with your business, your family and living your life.
Step #1: Communicate Often.
You should make an effort to constantly communicate with all of your stakeholders. From your employees to your customers to your partners and vendors, stay in communication with them to share how your business is doing and how you can continue to serve them.
While in-person visits may not be ideal at this time, you can always resort to the good ol’ phone, e-mail, videos or webinars. You can bet that if your customers aren’t hearing from you, they are hearing from your competitors.
Step #2: Be a Valuable Resource.
While money is always important, now is the time to be a trusted resource and friend to your clients and prospects. People today need bold solutions. If you’re actively bringing solutions to your clients, you become a valuable resource. If they’re simply writing a check and never hearing from you – especially in today’s environment – you’ll be first on the chopping block when they have to cut expenses.
Step #3: Lean on People.
It’s ironic that the one time we need people more than ever before, we are supposed to socially distance ourselves and stay in our homes. Through video conferencing and web conferencing, work together with your team, your partners and your Accountability Groups to lean on one another. Because nobody has gone through anything like this before, nobody has all the answers. But as a collective group, you will find most every answer you need.
Step #4: Be MORE Than a Businessperson.
They may be your employees, your colleagues and your clients. But they are PEOPLE first. And just about everyone you interact with in your business world has endless stresses when the workday is done. Their kids are home from school all day getting into who knows what. They’re worried about going to the supermarket and if there will be meat and toilet paper. They’re concerned about keeping themselves and their family healthy.
When your clients and prospects start to see you not just as an business provider, but as a friend and someone who truly cares, that’s when they want to do business with you for life.
Step #5: Be Informed But Not Obsessed.
People were glued to their TVs for weeks after 9/11. As a result, although they were informed, they were also more stressed, depressed and fearful. Don’t do that to yourself. Yes, it’s prudent to know how to “flatten the curve” and protect your family, but watching too much news or social media right now can dominate your thinking and actions. That can negatively impact your business.
During this otherworldly pandemic, it’s good to have a little fear. To keep us safe. To keep us making good decisions. However, if you want to ensure your business is stable and growing, to help your family cope and get through this, you should take these steps to rise above the fear.
If you need immediate IT support or if you need help in setting your business up so your employees can work remotely from home, contact us today.
How To Quickly Shift To A Work-From-Home Business Model To Maximize Productivity In Today’s Coronavirus Environment
As a business owner today, you are now facing unprecedented challenges to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic. You are asked to self-isolate and practice social distancing to “flatten the curve.” You are asked to allow your employees to work from home to reduce possible exposure and slow the spread of COVID-19.
These are all reasonable requests. However, as a business owner you also need to maximize productivity, bring in revenue and try to grow your business in these demanding times. How can you accomplish these goals when your office is now a ghost town and productivity has fallen off a cliff?
The answer lies in setting up your office to function remotely. If you’ve never implemented a work-from-home policy before, it may seem like a whole different world. Managing an entirely remote workforce goes far beyond giving your employees a laptop and reminding them to check in every once in a while. After all, there are many factors most business owners haven’t ever had to consider, such as:
- What technologies do I need?
- How can my employees work from home without compromising the security of our network?
- How can I make this new work environment as easy, comfortable and productive as possible?
We understand these are unique times. We know that “business as usual” is going to be quite different for an undetermined amount of time. But together we can help you adjust to today’s new normal by giving you the tools, technologies and insights to create a secure and productive work-from-home business environment. Here are three important considerations to getting you set up and running a successful work-from-home business:
1. Don’t allow employees to use home computers or devices. Their mindset may be, “Well, I’m working from home so I may as well use my home computer.” This is a dangerous mistake. Our team works hard to ensure your company computers and network are secure and protected from malware, viruses and cyber-attacks. Their home computers and devices could be littered with tons of downloaded music, videos, images and more. Because it’s more exposed, it can invite malware into your network. Rather, provide a company-approved and secured computer/laptop for employees to use at home.
2. Secure their WiFi access point. Without a secure WiFi access point, you’re essentially leaving a back door open to hackers. That’s because WiFi signals are often broadcast far beyond your employees’ homes and out into streets. Yes, drive-by hacking is popular among cybercriminals today. A few tips for securing your employees’ WiFi access points:
- Use stronger encryption and a more complex password
- Hide your network name
- Use a firewall
These security measures are not difficult to set up. But if you have any questions or need assistance, we will be happy to help get your employees set up remotely.
3. Use a two-factor authentication VPN. VPN stands for virtual private network. It’s essentially a private, encrypted tunnel that goes direct to your IT network in your office. Ideally, you’ll want your VPN to support two-factor authentication. This means it’s doubly secure because your employees will need to call in to access the network. If you don’t have a VPN for your employees to use, you can consider other services, such as GoToMyPC or Zoho. While these products are not as secure, at least they keep your home network from being exposed.
As business owners ourselves, we too are having to pivot and work differently than we ever have before. However, because we have the technology and infrastructure in place, we are still surprisingly productive.
Our team wants to help your business survive and thrive during today’s unique environment. If you and your IT team need extra hands right now…or solutions to help your employees work SECURELY from home…we have software tools, expert staff and resources we’d like to offer you to keep your business as productive as possible.
Here’s a link to my personal calendar if you wish to book a quick 10- to 15-minute call to discuss, Please get in touch at 201-797-5050
Cybercriminals Are Counting On You Letting Your Guard Down During This Global Pandemic – Here’s How To Stop Them
The world is slowing down during this COVID-19 pandemic. Wall Street is being hit hard. People are no longer going out. We’re told to quarantine or self-isolate and not engage in groups.
You can bet there’s one group that’s not slowing down at all. In fact, they’re probably working overtime while the rest of us have our lives turned upside down. Cybercriminals and hackers know there’s no better time to strike than during a global crisis. While you are distracted and spending your time trying to make sense of this new normal, they are finding new ways into your IT network so they can steal data and passwords, compromise your clients’ private information and even demand large ransoms.
Cybercrime is already on the rise and is expected to cause $6 TRILLION in damages by 2021! But, if history repeats itself, hackers will be out in full force throughout this coronavirus scare. We fully expect in the upcoming weeks that headlines will change from stories about COVID-19 to accounts of a frenzy of cyber-attacks on corporations and small businesses.
Here are solutions you can implement now to help protect your business data, money and productivity:
1. Be more suspicious of incoming e-mails.
Because people are scared and confused right now, it’s the perfect time for hackers to send e-mails with dangerous malware and viruses. At this moment, your in-box is probably filled with “COVID-19” subject lines and coronavirus-focused e-mails. Always carefully inspect the e-mail and make sure you know the sender. There’s a cdc-gov e-mail address out there now that’s not legitimate and is spamming in-boxes across the country.
Avoid clicking links in the e-mail unless it’s clear where they go. And you should never download an attachment unless you know who sent it and what it is. Communicate these safeguards to everyone on your team, especially if they are working from home.
2. Ensure your work-from-home computers are secure.
Another reason we expect a rise in cyber-attacks during this pandemic is the dramatic increase in employees working from home. Far too many employers won’t think about security as their team starts working at the kitchen table. That’s a dangerous precedent.
First, make sure your employees are not using their home computers or devices when working. Second, ensure your work-at-home computers have a firewall that’s turned on. Finally, your network and data are not truly secure unless your employees utilize a VPN (virtual private network). If you need help in arranging your new work-from-home environment, we would be happy to get your entire team set up.
3. Improve your password strategy.
During crises like the one we are all facing right now, your passwords could mean the difference between spending your time relearning how to grow your business and trying to recoup finances and private data that’s been hacked. Make a point now to reevaluate your passwords and direct your team to create stronger passwords.
Also, while it’s so convenient to save your passwords in your web browser, it also lessens your security. Because web browsers simply require their own password or PIN to access saved passwords, a skilled hacker can bypass this hurdle. Once they access your saved passwords, they can steal as much as they want – credit card information, customers’ private data and more!
Instead, you should consider a password manager to keep all of your passwords in one place. These password managers feature robust security. A few options are LastPass, 1Password and Keeper Security Password Manager.
You, your team and your family have enough to concern yourselves with in regards to staying healthy, living a more isolated lifestyle and keeping your business strong. There’s no need to invite in more problems by letting your computer and network security slide during these times.
If you need additional security advice or would like to have a consultation to discuss how to keep your data safe, simply connect with us today.
Covid-19: FAQs on Federal Labor and Employment Laws:
Good News About the COVID-19 Virus from Peter Diamandis
SBA Disaster Loans:
Apply for a loan as soon as its available. After they determine if you qualify, you will receive funds in 2-3 weeks. Apply even if you think you won't need it. You can always say NO.
MultiFunding has also put together a community site to help business owners navigate through the SBA loan process during these confusing times: https://multifunding.tribe.so/
Remote Collaboration Tools:
Zoom Video Conferencing: www.zoom.us
We use this at Holzsager Technology Services. We hold regular meetings and deliver webinars using Zoom. It's a reasonably priced tool that is easy to use and manage.
Slack Instant Messaging: www.slack.com
We also use slack in house to communicate in real time about internal and client facing items. We keep our team communication OUT OF OUR INBOXES. There is enough going on in there!
Microsoft Teams for Instant Messaging and Video Conferencing:
This tool is Included in your Microsoft Office 365 Licensing a the Business Essentials, Business Premium, E1, and E3 levels.
Free Microsoft TEAMS Training
Bigger Brains has moved their Teams training over to YouTube as a resource for companies who need to learn collaboration in a hurry.
Links to More Helpful Information:
COVID-19 live tracker – ‘This is a comprehensive, as close to real time as I have found, tracker of the global to local impact’
- I suggest you book mark this so you have access to data should there be a need - https://ncov2019.live/data
McKinsey – ‘This is the single most comprehensive set of information I have found on this topic including actionable insights’
- There is a lot in this so take it slow, but look for things that may apply to you and specifically look at the ‘actions’ that are suggested’ https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/business%20functions/risk/our%20insights/covid%2019%20implications%20for%20business/covid%2019%20march%209/covid-19-facts-and-insights-march-9-2020-v2.ashx
Littler – ‘What we should be doing with teams during this time’
- Take a look, there is a ton of information in here, find the ones that meet your needs right now. https://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/coronavirus-employer-action-items
CDC – ‘What to do if you think you may have COVID-19’
- This should likely be in everyone’s communication to their teams - https://mcusercontent.com/ae46b0c2f82c481bb31830fbd/files/1ceb0f7c-c298-47dc-9e66-7916c4c61dd7/Sick_with_COVID_19_sheet.pdf
World Health.net – ‘High dose Vitamin C and a prevention and/or a treatment’
- Obviously we are not medical professionals, but in my personal opinion I believe that High Dose Vitamin C is a preventative in general by boosting the immune system. Judge completely for yourself but here is some data. https://worldhealth.net/news/official-statement-china-recommended-treatment-covid-19/
OSHA – ‘Guidance on preparing the workplace for COVID-19’
- Leadership teams should review this and ensure they are doing what is needed to be prepared - https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
Asaf Bitton, MD, MPH – ‘Why social distancing is needed and how to best go about it’
- Consider the impact of being a ‘node’ in the distribution of the virus and how you can limit the spread. https://medium.com/@ariadnelabs/social-distancing-this-is-not-a-snow-day-ac21d7fa78b4
NBC News – ‘Video covering several areas of the virus – overall very good information’
- Consider sharing or even watching this as part of your meeting rhythms – you can do this virtually as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSVqpWkoK30
Fast Company & A LOT MORE – ‘How to manage virtual meetings – best practices’
As we move to more remote working have ‘good’ and ‘frequent’ meetings will become highly valuable.
US Chamber of Commerce – ‘Top 20 Tips for building business resilience’
- Take a look at this list, not all will apply to you and your business but some will and some will just spur your thinking. Biggest take away is that you need to create a plan of action and, in my opinion, update it frequently, maybe daily in some cases. https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/sites/default/files/media-uploads/3-RiaB_BASIC-Top-20-Tips-for-Biz-Prep-ENG.pdf
Medium – ‘What is flattening the curve and why it is important’
- This is a long one and it’s is a few days old but it is full of data with graphs and gives a good overview including data from China and Europe for better understanding of what could happen in the US’ https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca
Sequoia Capital – ‘A look at the financial implications of COVID-19 from a business perspective’
- Managing the financial health of your business is paramount. This article gives some good insights on how to think about doing this. https://medium.com/sequoia-capital/coronavirus-the-black-swan-of-2020-7c72bdeb9753
McKinsey – ‘General implications for Business’
- This is a few days old but after rereading this weekend I felt it is still very relevant and is one of the most comprehensive overviews I have seen to date. There is a checklist at the end of the article that gives a very good overview of what to be doing to mitigate risk. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk/our-insights/covid-19-implications-for-business