Extra Points: Building Snowmen

“Pops.”

“Yes, Ellie?”

“I want to tell you something (insert impish smile)…”

“What do you want to tell me, Ellie?”

Just above a whisper level…”Do you want to build a snowman?”

This was one of the weekend interchanges between my granddaughter Ellie and I (while she was engaging me in conversation to avoid napping). For those of you who have yet to see Disney’s Frozen or Frozen 2, this famous line won’t spoil the plot. I think it’s one of Disney’s best ever, so quarantine time is a great time to watch it!

The whole concept of building is top of mind. Whether it’s building a talking snowman named Olaf, opening up construction to re-start building, or re-imagining your business to build it back up, the time has come as we approach May and the midpoint of the year to start building a sustainable model for the new “business as usual.” 

While we will begin seeing phasing back of business over the next few months, it won’t look at all the same as before. Until we have a vaccine in the next 8-12 months, there will be a justifiable caution by everyone to avoid becoming infected with this deadly disease. And that means business must continue on with many of the innovations already put into place. However, there now must be a foundational approach to running your business in light of this current and other emerging threats. When you build a snowman, you start from the base; let’s do the same with the building and construction of a “less vulnerable to calamity” business.

In this missive today, I will share two quick hitter ideas for accomplishing this goal. The topic is also going to be the subject for my expanded May column for The Kitsap Business Journal due out in a few days. Stay tuned to see three additional ideas to help your business become a “less vulnerable” business. The column will be shared on my blog and social media platforms (available to follow or subscribe on this email). 

Step 1: Build a crisis plan. Construction companies will be required to have a written job site COVID-19 plan. Don’t think this won’t be required later on for all businesses that deal with the public or employees. Starting now, you should be crafting a plan that details your actions to re-opening your business, working with the employees, and dealing with the public. This might be required to even open up to bringing back employees. To add to it, smart and savvy business owners will build a greater foundation by having plutons in place for the what ifs that can keep them up at night. A pandemic isn’t the only peril that can cause a business to decline, flounder, or fail. You’ve been given the opportunity to build a strong foundation to grow and to protect your most valued business assets; your people, property, and profitability. What will you do with the what ifs?

Step 2: Update your risk financing (insurance) program. Business interruption, cyber, and pandemic insurance have all been highlighted over the past several weeks. The reality of any financing of risk (aka insurance) is that it needs to be purchased prior to a loss; it must be checked for written exclusions that prevent some forms of payment; and that it pays for claims that you can’t afford to pay on your own. Insurance programs should sync with Business Continuity plans. Without knowing how you will respond to and recover from a crisis, how can you possibly set up a sound insurance program? By the way, this step also needs to address challenges caused to Business Succession and your Buy-Sell Agreement. Life and stability insurances fund Buy-Sell Agreements. Is your company financially prepared to deal with the loss of an owner, partner, or key employee?

If you’ve been in business for more than ten years, you’ve made significant changes and re-imagined your services, products, and values. You’ve done that mostly because of ingenuity rather than a calamity. Those in business less than ten years, I’d wager you’ve gone through that process at least once. Basically, we entrepreneurs build snowmen on a regular basis. This time is different, though. This time requires a move to build a stronger foundation for safeguarding and protecting; it requires a more meticulous approach to building insurance programs that will pay on behalf of you in time of need; and it will require enhanced innovation, greater collaboration, and a more cultivated and agile labor force. I will cover the final three in my column.

You must get started on these concepts now. Otherwise, you’ll still be lagging inside while everyone else is putting the carrot nose on their snowmen. In business terms, speed is everything. Don’t get caught napping. 

Do you want to build a snowman?

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