The coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent economic shutdown, has seemed to punish some businesses more than others. That’s especially true for anyone in the travel, hospitality, or restaurant industries—all of whom have been essentially shut down with the economy.
For these business owners, the rescue package offered by the government—and the payroll protection program, or PPP, in particular—offered a short-term lifeline to keep companies alive and people employed.
Time will tell the kind of impact these short-term bridges actually had in terms of fulfilling those goals—especially given all the confusion over who was eligible for the PPP money and what it could be spent on, which has caused more than a few business owners who received money to send it back.
Is the "help" really helping?
“The whole thing is a shame", says Ami Kassar, the CEO of Multifunding, an advisory firm who helps companies optimize their balance sheets for growth.
“The intent of the program and how people understood it are two very different things. Many saw it as a free money grab. But the intent of the program wasn’t to save small businesses. PPP was designed to keep people off unemployment lines."
"Now everything's a mess and looks like it will be that way for a while. That’s why we need to shift. Let's face it - PPP is over. It’s time for us to reimagine our businesses.”
What should businesses be doing?
Kassar, who writes for Inc. magazine, authored a book called The Growth Dilemma. He's advised on the state of the financing market for the White House and the Treasury Department and he believes that massive changes bring massive opportunities.
His advice to entrepreneurs and business owners is to be ready to take advantage of any and all opportunities. The virus has created change on a scale no one could have ever imagined.
What does it mean to "reimagine" your business?
“Reimagining your business can mean different things to different people,” he says. “A lot depends on how the virus impacted your business."
"Regardless of whether it changed 9% or 90%, you need to be looking at how the changes brought about by the virus will impact how you deliver your products or services moving forward. My job is helping people think about their options.”
Get out of your comfort zone.
He refers to his own business experience as an example. Before the current pandemic, he used to travel on an estimated 100 airplanes a year to speak in person in front of small groups of people.
“I hated doing webinars,” he says. “It was like talking into a mirror.” But, thanks to the virus, which forced him to conduct his speaking engagement virtually, he estimates he has spoken to more people over the past two months than he did over the past five years.
“I have learned to deliver my content in a new way that I was never comfortable with before,” he says. “Now I have to figure out what this means for me moving forward.”
Take advantage of hidden opportunities.
As another example, Kassar says that the cost of many advertising mediums is now down 50%.
“Doesn’t that create opportunities?” he asks. “If you own a restaurant, will you try offering in-home meals or catering? Or, if you have competitors who have thrown up their hands in frustration and given up, will you look to acquire them?"
"There are opportunities for everyone to consider in light of this shift. It all comes down to how we embrace these changes and learn to evolve our organizations.”
But, what's the catch?
The catch is Kassar, who sees himself as a kind of “money therapist” for companies, says that so many business owners remain fearful right now—especially about the idea of taking on more debt to take advantage of the opportunities emerging these days.
“Debt can be evil or powerful depending on how you use it,” he says. It could be a missed opportunity, for example, for business owners to lose out on new programs like the Main Street Lending Program that offers no-personal guarantees on low-interest loans business owners could use to grow and expand their business.
“The problem is most people can’t get their heads around this notion, which I understand,” says Kassar. “People are stuck in survival mode or depressed over losing something they have spent decades building. And I feel for them. But if we don’t start reimagining our businesses, and if entrepreneurs don’t rise to the challenge, our economy is not going to survive.”
So what do we do now?
One of the exercises he points to from his book is to have business owners imagine what they would do if someone magically put $1 million on their balance sheet.
“Where would you put the money?” asks Kassar. “Would you invest in new products or services? Would you diversify your business? What new things would you try?”
Another useful tool is talking to your peers, other business owners, and helping them solve their problems or identify their opportunities for growth.
Kassar, for instance, is meeting with fellow members of his EO chapter next week to tackle joint exercises together like creating SWOT analyses and “go-forward” plans.
“We can all use a bit of group therapy right now,” he says. “And by working through these questions in groups of your peers gives you the chance to learn from how others are thinking about how the world is changing.”
Think outside the box.
It all comes back to reimagining what your business will look like going forward, and what bold moves you need to take today to get there.
To learn more about what Kassar is doing to coach others about how to do just that, join the GGOB LiveCast on Friday, May 15 where hosts Rich Armstrong and Steve Baker will welcome Ami Kassar as their guest. They'll be discussing how the entrepreneurial community can work together to jump-start the global economy.
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PPP (Post Pandemic Planning) coaching session
Designed to help organizations reimagine their business through a Trends and SWOT Analysis, in order to establish the companies new Annual and Quarterly Strategic Priorities.
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