These have been trying times for businesses, big and small. Because the economic turndown is not the result of normal economic ebbs and flows, business owners and employees alike are facing an uncertain future.
Certain issues have been exposed by this disease-induced economic depression, such as income disparity which has created the need for massive government financial support for businesses to keep their employees working, or at least on the payroll, to avert calamity.
But, by the same token, many businesses in all fields are coming up with new and unique ways to carry on and, in the long run, flourish. The Manopause Team interviewed small business owners, CEOs, and sole proprietors to examine how they are keeping their businesses, and dreams, alive.
Kurt N. is the owner and CEO of a small but thriving commercial construction company. Until COVID, his employee base was expanding, with new jobs being added to the pipeline weekly. As a result, he expanded his office space as well. After the economic shutdown, many of his clients postponed construction and renovation projects to preserve their capital, calling them non-essential. In the meantime, Kurt was left with significant overhead and diminished cash flow, every business’ nightmare! While PPP helped keep employees on the payroll, he needed to rethink his strategy.
MT: So what are you doing to survive this COVID era?
KN: It’s been a challenge. This is something that I haven’t dealt with in my 25 year career. So the first thing we did was work to keep our great employees on the payroll utilizing PPP, flexing hours, and having them work from home. I came to realize that the work we still had was getting done, and thought that maybe our company doesn’t need so much office space. It’s a huge expense.
MT: So did you downsize?
KN: Yes, our lease was fortunately winding down, so we left one building and got a much smaller office space. The employees are thriving working from home–it saves time, at least 1-2 hours a day of driving, and they all feel more productive. We Zoom whenever we all need to talk.
MT: That’s great! So you downsized floor space, not people!
KN: Exactly. And we believe that it’s a new work paradigm for our company, allowing us to save money, have more competitive bids for jobs, and in the end, maximize profits.
MT: Let’s hope for a vaccine soon!
KN: Yes! But we’ll continue to adjust to the changing environment until we do. I’m confident we’ll survive and come out stronger!
That’s one example of adaptation that I think many companies will emulate. Another change is going on in medicine. The Manopause Team interviewed a primary care physician in Southern California who says she has been doing more telemedicine since the pandemic began. Many patients are embracing it.
MT: How many patients were you seeing in the office every day before the pandemic?
LA: It varied, but averaged 8-12.
MT: And now?
LA: Well, we started back slowly a couple of weeks ago, but we’re limiting the number of patients in the office at any given time to maintain social distancing. So I’m still doing a lot of telemedicine.
MT: Do you like telemedicine?
LA: Yes, but it’s not for every patient. It works very well for patients with minor complaints, or those having their routine followup visits. And those patients really like it, especially the older ones. There is less wait, no parking fees, and no driving! But for patients with new complaints that are more significant–chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and the like–we recommend that if they cannot come to the office that they go to an urgent care or emergency room.
MT: Is telemedicine here to stay?
LA: Absolutely. It’s going to get more sophisticated as the technology improves. Right now, we have blood pressure cuffs that have bluetooth connections to your iphone, so we can get accurate blood pressure and pulse measurements. There are also finger pulse oximeters that measure your heart rate and the amount of oxygen in your blood. I think eventually we’ll have accurate EKG apps, and devices that will listen to your lungs!
MT: That’s cool!
LA: Well, necessity is the mother of invention!
Right she is!
“Adapt or Die” has always been a business mantra, and it couldn’t be more relevant than it is today.