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Season 02, Episode 11

How to Navigate Your Business During the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A special episode with host, Chris Ronzio, and Trainual CMO, Jonathan Ronzio
Podcasts

This is a special episode featuring our host and Trainual CEO, Chris Ronzio, and Trainual CMO, Jonathan Ronzio. Chris and Jonathan have an impromptu discussion on how Trainual and the rest of the world are dealing with Coronavirus. Chris was getting a ton of questions on LinkedIn, from employees, and in his entrepreneur groups, so we thought it would be a good idea to have a candid discussion about what we’re doing, how we’re handling it, what we’re thinking about, and how we’re preparing to weather the storm. As we’ve been forced to transition to remote work just like a lot of you, we hope this episode provides some advice to help you get through it.

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Full Transcript

Chris

Do you remember the show lost? Of course you do because we used to watch it together. So you remember when they first hit the deserted Island and everybody's like taking inventory of what they have and emptying their pockets and making like a pile of all the stuff that they have to figure out how to survive. It's very much like that, you know, like as a team, we all have these skills and interests and different things that are hidden, tucked away in our pockets that we don't use day to day. And it's like, how do we be resourceful and be like, Oh, there's that tourniquet. You know, like we need that over here. You know, like we, um, you know, our, our people operations coordinators helping on social media and our office manager is helping on customers, uh, support tickets and you know, like you figure out where to plug holes and reallocate your resources because the, the needs of the company temporarily change.

Jonathan

Hey, what's up and welcome back to process. Makes perfect. It's been a bit since season one. This is Jonathan Ronsey, Chris, his brother. You don't hear me on the podcast prior to this, but, uh, Chris, what is this? What are we doing? This is an impromptu discussion that we're having about how our company and the world is dealing with this Coronavirus pandemic. So I know there's been a lot of questions that I've been getting on LinkedIn that employees have been talking to us about, that our other entrepreneur friends are discussing and private groups. And we wanted to just sort of have a conversation pretty candidly about what we're doing, how we're communicating, what we're thinking about and how people can be prepared to weather the storm. So if I, if any of that is relevant to you right now, please stay tuned. It's a great conversation around, um, the, the forced transition to remote work, the global pause slash slowdown with what's going on in the economy right now and how to think about that for your team and your business. With plenty of metaphors mixed in as always because it's a Ronzio bros conversation and we like metaphors. 

Chris:

All right Jonathan. So we were just talking about the current state of the company and decided to just roll while we were talking because I think a lot of the issues we're facing as a company, other businesses are facing as well. So this is everything from, you know, what this being thrown into remote work has done for culture, for our business. It's how we reorganize people's roles and what they're doing when they can't do some of their normal responsibilities. It's how this affects our projections, our hiring plans, the purchase decisions we're making. So we were just chatting about all of this and we decided to kind of just roll. So welcome to 

Jonathan:

A lot of uncertainty. 

Chris:

Yeah. So maybe let's just start with a quick frame of reference of when we're recording this and what's going on in the world.

Jonathan:  

Sure. So it's  Friday, March 20th. Right now it's been the first week that most of the United States has been I'd say self quarantined at home. It hasn't been like a national mandate, but everybody's just kind of been inside. I think you've probably seen some drone videos at some of the big cities that show, it looks like it's the apocalypse. It's like downtown Boston right now. It looks like I Am Legend. There's like one person walking around. It's insane. On one hand it's scary what's going on. Um, on another, it's kind of inspiring to see how dramatically the world changed its behavior and, um, and made the sacrifices for the, you know, the potential protection of 2-3% or maybe less of the population that are, you know, if you look at like the, the fatality rate of this coronavirus that's spreading around and it's like four, not to say 2-3% as a small percentage, that'd be like a massive impact.

Jonathan:

But for everybody to, to change their working and personal lives so much for that is pretty cool. So I guess you always gotta look on the bright side and see the silver lining. But it's certainly been an interesting week. It was my birthday this week. We canceled, canceled my party and my wife and I just had a nice little dinner at home and watched Netflix. And, again, trying to focus on the optimistic side. It's been the first time in like over two years that I've just like canceled all travel on my books and haven't had anywhere to go and have just been inside and, and kind of this forced pause. It's like a forced slowdown and I'm actually reading this book, “In Praise of Slowness” right now in tandem with that to kind of just like get in the mindset of challenging that cult of speed that we've all been so addicted to.

Chris:

Yeah. And so last night I think or sometime yesterday, California made the mandate that 40 million people stay at home with like fines if they, if they're outside. So I mean that was, that's a big move and you don't know if that's going to spread to other States and they'll follow suit. But I think one of the interesting things is that as a country, the U S has been able to watch how other countries have reacted to this, you know, 10 days or 14 days ago where our numbers on the graph are kind of where other countries were a week or two ago. Hopefully that's made us react quicker and learn from their lessons. So, I'd like to see this slowly taper off soon, but we'll see. 

Jonathan:

So I mean, for me, for instance, I, you know, most of the Trainual team is out in Scottsdale, Arizona where you are. And, I was there when we launched this thing, but I've since gone back to Boston. And so I generally travel there about a week of every month, but 75% of my time throughout the year is generally like this. It's remote. And so I've been more comfortable working remote, being a, a remote leader, being the, the one person on a screen with the other five to 25 people on the other side and, uh, and having to deal with those social dynamics and still be able to manage and get work done. Uh, I think that it's been an interesting shift for the rest of our team, including you too like go totally remote for the first time. Um, but me as the one who had been remote, it's kinda nice to, to like not be the one to many on the video screen and actually see like all the different tiles of all the people, in all in their spaces. It makes communication for me a little easier. Um, but that's, that's a unique thing to point out in the, in that like companies that have that kind of hybrid dispersed team situation where some are remote or in summer in an office, like there is a social dynamic challenge that that presents.

Chris:

Yeah. The first time we did our all hands meeting and we had, you know, 30 faces on a screen and we're looking at everyone it, I left that meeting feeling like I gave each individual more attention than I would otherwise if we were just in a cluster in a room because I felt like when I'm in a room presenting, it's more that one to many like you feel when you're, when you're looking at a one video screen on the other side, but when you see 29 or their faces it, it makes you look at everyone and see how every person is reacting. And so that part of it was cool. 

The downside I think is, you know, at least here in the office, I tend to bounce around a lot throughout today. Like, I'd sit on the beanbag in this room and then I come over here and see what's going on. And then I go downstairs and sit down in another meeting and I like being a fly on the wall in a lot of those cases and drifting and listening and chiming in and I can't do that right now. So I feel right now, like I have to be much more intentional with scheduling meetings on my calendar and I'm sick of looking at the screen all day. 

Jonathan:

You just need to like get a one page list of everybody's Zoom link and just randomly throughout the day just start clicking things and just see, just see if there's meetings going on. It's like a chat roulette kind of thing. You just pop in and just say hello. Yeah, that's funny actually. 

Chris:

So you mentioned zoom. We started using that breakout room feature yesterday. We played with that with our leadership, and I don't know if you knew this, as the host of the meeting, when I split it into breakout rooms, it didn't put me in one of the rooms. And so I could choose to go into a room, leave the room, go into another room. And that was like the closest I've felt since, since we've been quarantined to add that experience. So that was kind of cool.

Jonathan:

Um, w so I, I guess that's, that's a good, um, segue into like how we are still engaging the team. I think that there's, some of the team members are thriving in the remote environment and everybody's feeling like they can be head down and productive and not be pulled into random conversations or distractions which do happen in the office and other members are craving, more social interactions. So things like the, the book club meeting that we did last night, like what, what can other companies, uh, do to virtually foster, um, team engagement? And you can talk about the book club and kind of anything, you know, more related to the breakout stuff. 

Chris:

Yeah, so we started doing a quarterly book that as a leadership team we were reading and then we opened it up to the whole company. Anyone that wants to join. So when we do our quarterly planning meetings, we dedicate an hour, the last hour for everyone to join and talk about the book we all read. So we did that yesterday and that was just a great chance to connect on a topic other than what we're working on. You know, cause you do Zooms and meetings all the time on like the projects you're working on that day. It's nice to connect with someone over something outside of your day to day. And so whether it's  a book or something that you're personally growing together or it's just more casual.

I know we've done these little Donut meetings, they're called, they pop up on Slack and pair you with someone different and people are still doing those donut meetings just over zoom and they're sitting and eating lunch together or having a cup of coffee together. And I think that's really cool to still hang out with someone. You know, I've seen people posting like, FaceTime happy hours and Instagram group video chats and people are searching for ways to interact with each other when they're not face to face. So it just takes I think, a little more intentionality. 

Jonathan:

Yeah. So actually one of the fun things that we did in response to like us personally trying to figure out how to transition our company to remote is we were like looking at all these articles and, and watching videos and figuring out like what's, what are the essential tools in our tech stack that allow us to operate, seamlessly, remote. And then we pulled all that together and as our response to this to be helpful for our customers and just the broader market, we made this, this Remote Work Resources website. So just remoteworkresources.com and it's just everything that helped us transition and the tools that we think are the best out there for the essentials of working your business. So I want to prompt you for people that are thinking through, you know, not knowing how long this is going to last, not knowing like the, the, the uncertainty in the market, the economic potential downturn, lasting longer than we want it to. What are the things that are the essential ways a business can operate? Like if you have to be remote, what are those tools or, or tips?

Chris:

Well, it's crazy. I saw this, this, um, article and there was a documentary about, you know, the flu and how in the early 19 hundreds there was this pandemic and they thought I'd come again and with a hundred years, this hundred year flu idea. And if you think about how work was a hundred years ago or even like 15 or 20 years ago, I think the world would have been unprepared to continue working. Like it has. We're fortunate that SaaS companies have made it so easy to work remote and we were just able to flip the switch. And I know not every business is like that. Like I know that there are certain government agencies and things that they just, they just can't flip the switch and log into everything remotely. Like there's security concerns. Um, we're, we are a little different in that all of our tools are already cloud-based.

Chris:

And so the ones that we rely the most heavily on first communication. So you know, Zoom and Skype and Slack, like these are tools to chat and to have video chats and stand ups and you know, other people might use G chat or Google Hangouts. You need some way to communicate with people and do that seamlessly. And I think more and more people have those tools already because you know, you travel internationally, your data plan doesn't work. You've your wifi connected, but your Slack still works or your WhatsApp still works or whatever. So that’s I think the most basic thing is to still be able to communicate. Obviously email, most people can access from anywhere. So that's, that's a good fallback. And then there's your task and project management. So the workload that's on your plate and being able to track that and know when other people are getting their work done.

That's a pretty fundamental thing in business. So we use Asana. In the past we've used, uh, teamwork, base camp, Trello, uh, all these different project management tools. So whatever your flavor of project management, that's really important. If you don't have the complexity of a lot of people collaborating on a project, you could probably get by with just a task management tool like a Todoist or one of those real simple task list tools and that at least keeps you on track and you can share a list with someone or a couple people in your, your company and know who's doing what. So, I think that’s the second thing is the making sure the work's on track and then everything else is kind of the departmental stuff. You know, like we have our finance tools, you know, zero or you might use QuickBooks.

Like all of that's still operating. I can still pull all our financials. We're in the process of talking to banks and investors and you know, that stuff doesn't require me sitting in the office with a server and a data room. You know, it's, it's all cloud based. So it's important to have access to that. There's your file management, you know, having Dropbox or a one drive or any of the Google drive, any of these places where you store all your files. You know, I can't imagine if someone was relying on a, a shared physical hard drive in the office and didn't have some kind of cloud backup or cloud storage solution because then all of your files are just like locked up in the office, you know. So that's something that you should absolutely have in place. There is, you know, I look at our marketing tools.

Jonathan:

Yeah. I mean it's like having the Adobe Creative Cloud suite to be able to still edit videos and designs and uh, and all the like, you know, sales enablement and customer content and, um, and then the ads that we're putting out and, and just the ad platforms like you can, you can still run all of your, your Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn and Quora and Reddit and Google and all of that. Just totally, you know, remote. You can, um, you can manage all, all of your, your organic search and your, your social channels and your blog. And like, it's the whole marketing stack is, is fortunately that's been totally online for a very long time. 

Chris:

Wordpress, you can log in, you can still, you know, for the website, all the analytics tools that we have. And then there's the customers, you know, the customer tools like Intercom and chat and people use Zen desk and you know, those, those are all online to keep the conversation with your customer going. We use Air Call, which is like a virtual calling system that forwards phone numbers for our customers and sales to talk to our sales reps. We've got people tools like our, our applicant tracking system because we're still getting a lot of applicants. People are, you know, unfortunately being laid off. And so we're seeing a lot of applications as more people are sitting at home looking for jobs right now. So we can continue that process.

Jonathan:

There were something like 380,000 people filed for unemployment yesterday. It's definitely a bad situation for a lot of people in the security of their jobs. Regarding the marketing side of things too though, one thing we had been talking about is how do we pivot our own message? Because like for so long Trainual, and we're not here to pitch, train you all in this podcast, but like at the same time, it is one of those tools that it allows us to ensure that our operational knowledge is well distributed and understood. And, um, for two years we've been targeting with this message around like, you know, you're growing, you're hiring, you're scaling fast. How do you ensure that people are trained and onboarded and up to speed and productive quickly and, and now given what's going on, we're like, well, what is, what, what is the current value prop for our customers? It's not that they're necessarily hiring a ton of people and needing to onboard really quickly. It's that they need to know that people know how to do things right from wherever they are. They need to know that people have access to the info that they need to do their jobs. And just you need to know what your employees know.

Chris:

Yeah. So the conversation has flipped a little, like you said, it's not about hiring and scaling and opening locations. It's about freezing your hiring and trying to keep your people busy. And unfortunately in some cases having to do furloughs or layoffs and uh, you know, maybe outsourcing certain tasks that were done by someone in house or getting a contractor up to speed because you still need the work done, but you can't afford to do it full time. Or you know, the, the, there's this, there's a shift in the market. And so as a product we had to anticipate this, which we did, but we also have to be ready to flip quickly. I remember two years ago we were brainstorming on this like in a good market, what would happen in a bad market? How would we position the product? 

In good times and in bad times, it's your business knowledge insurance almost. You know, it's like the ways that you sustain yourself as a business by doing the things that make the business money. How do you make sure that that instruction manual is staying intact? Especially if the people with that knowledge are in some cases leaving the company. How do you make sure that the company retains the secret recipes and that they don't go out the door? And so, you know, we've reorganized some things on our product roadmap to address this. We've shifted a little bit of our messaging, but I think anyone that's listening should think about how to do that in their own business too. 

I had someone comment on a LinkedIn post, I put out that they had to close their rehab clinic and what should they do? And my first thought was, well, you know, people still need rehab during this time. It's not like that need goes away. It's just that you're not allowed to go to the rehab clinics. So how do you deliver rehab virtually? You know, is there a service where you can send people to, to them? Like Instacart delivers my groceries or can you do it virtually over video or can you put together lesson plans or or you know, weekly call accountability sort of check-ins. You know like how, how do you virtualize that model? And I think that something every everyone has to face.

Jonathan:

Where is the pivot for the opportunity completely, right. Cause it's like ma, you know, right now it seems dire that maybe that person had to shut the doors on the rehab facility. But if they, if the audience, if the demand was, is still there, if their customer base is there, if they, they probably still had, you know, appointments that were booked months out. Like if they pivot smartly right now to like you're saying, deliver some kind of virtual program, then maybe that becomes the future model for the business and they don't have the operational overhead of, of having a, you know, in house place for having the, the people staffed there and it becomes more of a, a digital rehab environment that is even more profitable. Assuming you can deliver what the people still need and, and hit that same value.

Chris:

Yeah, I've, I've seen some variation of this quote a few times, but it's something like you can't control the direction of the tides, but you can learn to surf, you know? And, and it's like if you can, if you can navigate whatever is happening, then you'll have long term success in business. And I think there is opportunity, you know, amidst all of this, it's just a matter of being proactive and figuring out, okay, like if all the, it's not just my rehab clinic that closed, it's all of them. So what does that customer doing right now? Like how do we still service that customer? If you're the one that figures it out the fastest, then you just won in that race. 

Another thing we've talked about is, is our hiring plan changing with the exception of our product team. And I think this is an interesting thing to talk about because you know, you can run lean and I want to actually get into this a bit, running lean sharing responsibilities, like getting people creative. 

The point I want to make is like our product team is what is driving the, the vision of the business forward. And everything else kind of supports that vision and the success of our customers and finding new customers and all of that. But if we don't have a product, we don't have a business. And so in this market, I want to be doubling down on advancing the product because I see that as the thing other people will neglect. I think it's sorta like in a race when you're told to, you know, by like pedal uphill, you know, don't [inaudible] or pedal downhill, you know, don't coast when everyone else is coasting. Like that's when you, that's when you want to get ahead. Um, I think it's the same thing with pushing our products. So we're, we're still hiring engineers and we're very committed to that, but in other areas we've cut back. So why don't you talk about what we're doing to be cost conscious and um, and stay lean through this. 

Jonathan:

For sure. So I think that comes down to understanding the people you have on your team as people and not just the employees that you know in the roles that you hired them for. I think something that we've, we've always put a lot of emphasis on is developing, somebody personally as well as professionally. And in doing that as leaders, as managers, you know, you want, you understand what somebody is working on outside of work, you understand where they want to go in their own career. That might not be that they're at your company in five years and you're okay with that and you're helping them get there. And so for me, having that understanding of let's just say on the marketing team of the skillsets and the talent that's on our bench, more than just, okay, you're doing PR or more than just you came in and you're a writer.

Jonathan:

Like understanding what people do beyond that allows you to, to tap them for more when you need them for more, as long as they're, uh, you know, able to rally behind the company's mission. And I think the more that you support them, the more that they will support the company. Um, it's, it's kind of like that flywheel effect there. And, for instance, like, I'll call it out. Our PR manager, you know, she constantly is just like investing in herself personally outside of work and is passionate about tons of different things. And, uh, and as, as part of a review, we've got her access to masterclass to like learn, learn how to cook and learn how to design and learn how to do all these things because she's a perpetual learner. But knowing that meant that like when we needed something potentially designed that we got held up, it was like, it's like she just jumped in and was like, yeah, I can tackle that, I can do it.

And so that's, I think the under understanding like where the different talents lie on your team allows you to operate leaner because you can, you can, you know, allow people to multitask and, and I think that keeps jobs interesting. There are like constantly working on different things, their role. And their vision for their growth at the company might evolve as they test out different areas of, of being, you know, resourceful and productive and adding to the, the vision and the growth. Um, and so that's, that's I think like we, I, I'm totally cool not hiring anybody in marketing. We were gonna add like another three to four people and it's like, no, we can, we can get by on what we have right now.

Chris:

Do you remember the show lost? Of course you do because we used to watch it together. So you remember when they first hit the deserted Island and everybody's like taking inventory of what they have and emptying their pockets and making like a pile of all the stuff that they have to figure out how to survive. It's very much like that, you know, like as a team, we all have these skills and interests and different things that are hidden, tucked away in our pockets that we don't use day to day. And it's like, how do we be resourceful and be like, Oh, there's a, that that belt is a tourniquet. You know, like we need that over here. You know, our people operations coordinators helping on social media and our office manager helping on customers support tickets. You know, like you figure out where to plug holes and reallocate your resources because the needs of the company temporarily change.

Jonathan:

But that's not a natural state for so many companies and so many employees that the employees would be willing to do that. They're like, this is outside of my scope of responsibilities. I'm not, this is outside of like what I'm getting paid for. But that attitude is, uh, is like, they're bound to have that attitude if the company does not have a personal interest in them and personally interested in developing them. I think just the same way that in any kind of, you know, economic downturn or whatever the constraint or uncertainty is that's facing your business. Your current customers are your greatest asset and you need to nurture them so that they don't leave you. And that's the same thing with your employees at all times. Like if you, if you nurture your employees along the way and you support them both personally and professionally, then they're going to be that much more bought in to the mission longterm and want to figure out how to turn their belt into a tourniquet because you know, Jackie's bleeding on the side, right. Whatever is going on there. Like people will figure it out. 

Chris:

Who is Jackie?

Jonathan:

I don't know. I was just coming up with a random name.

Chris:

All right, well Jackie, apologies if you're watching this. He did not mean it. All right, so we talked a little bit about, you know, our own people, people plan and how we're adjusting. Uh, we talked about the product and, and what we're doing there. I think another thing that's important is communication. So, um, I woke up at like 2:00 AM a few nights ago and uh, mostly because I was hungry, not because I was thinking about anything. I had a really early dinner. 

Jonathan: 

You're always up at 2:00 AM snacking. 

Chris: 

I know it's bad, but when I'm, you know, pacing around the kitchen in the middle of the night, that's when I have some really good ideas. And so I had this thought that, you know, we had given people surface level information at the company. We had said, you know, at first we decided we were going to go all remote. It was like 10:30 at night. The night before we went all remote, we posted on Slack and we said, for the next two days, for the rest of this week, let's go remote. We'll, we'll keep it as a test. We'll see how it goes, we'll watch the news. And then we decided from there to go totally remote the next week. But, we've given people just like doses of little bits of information, but we haven't given people a broad, you know, here like state of the union and you know, it's timely that we're having this conversation now because it's a, it's Friday right now and on Monday in our all hands meeting, I've got a presentation prepared to everyone based on our conversations this week to deliver the more broad message because I want everyone to know like, here's, here's our state of health at the company.

You like, here's how we're doing financially. Here's what the next 12 to 24 months looks like. Here's how we might be modifying our plans. Here's what we're going to do with hiring. Here's what we anticipate with the new office we're moving into and with our, you know, how long remote work is going to go for, here's what we're expecting on the customer and sales side. Like what's the worst case scenario? Don't be concerned if you see this, this and this happening. Here's the plans we're putting in place for the product. And you know, that's, that's something that I'm embarrassed that it took a week to figure out that that's what I should do. And I would be having that message sooner to everyone if everybody wasn't already blocked out for various meetings this week. You know, like that's Monday is the first time we've got everyone together. 

Jonathan:

I mean, again, given the circumstances of how this evolved, it was hard to know this, the scope and seriousness of what was happening. But I, but I do think that that's a, it's a good lesson. It's like thinking about when you're on an airplane, right? Like there, there may be uncertainty, uh, in the market, but how do you eliminate uncertainty within your team? And, and to me, that feels like if you're, if you're flying and all of a sudden the plane starts bumping two to 20 feet up in the air and is like, you know, massive turbulence and there's no explanation and you're just starting to freak out. Like, what, what is going on? Like, is it, how serious is this? Whereas like if a two minutes before that, the pilot like, you know, came on the radio and was like, “Hey, we're about to enter, you know, some turbulence, like don't worry about it. It's, it's a, you're gonna feel some disturbance. And, uh, and we've got, we've got it covered for the next site. We're going to pause in flight cabin service for the next five minutes, uh, potentially as long as 20 minutes. But we'll keep you posted.”

Just letting people know ahead of time and like, maybe it is worse than you anticipate and then you come on and you're like, Hey, sorry. We're not going to have, we're not gonna be able to serve you drinks for the rest of the flight, but sit tight. We'll, uh, we'll get you where you're going.

Chris:

Yeah, that's such a great much. Yeah, great analogy. And I like our cousins. Shannon's a pilot and one of the things she told me about turbulence, which is so interesting is she said turbulence is kind of like a speed bump where like if you're standing on the street and you see a car going over a speed bump, you see that it doesn't affect the car. Like you're not afraid that the car is going to crash or like fall off the road or something like that. You see it's just like a very little bump. But when you're inside the car, if you hit that speed bump going at a decent speed, it feels like it totally jostles you. And you were like, like we're going down, but it's not the case at all. And I thought that was so interesting and it's relevant to the example you just shared because from the inside, when you don't have the perspective, you feel more worried than when you zoom out and you know the impact that thing is actually having. So anyway, all of our airplane analogies to say that basically community communication is important.

Jonathan:

Yeah. How do you tell your team that you are still going to land where you uh, intended to, right. How do you, how do you get to where you're going with some bumps along the way and communication is a key part of that.

Chris:

Totally. One time I landed in a different city. Has that ever happened to you? Like I got out, I got on a plane and because of weather they rerouted the plane and we had to land at a different city and then we stayed there for like an hour and then took off again and went back to the city I was supposed to go to. 

Jonathan:

Oh, that's wild. Yeah. But again, they communicated it. It wasn't like a surprise. There aren't supposed to be mountains here, so that's fine. 

Chris:

Okay. So what else? Anything else we want to cover? I mean we talked about the team. I think through all of this, even if the team is slimming down, we can still grow the business without growing the team. And that's, that's important to point out because I think when you're growing really quickly as we have been, we were trying to grow the team ahead of the growth because we wanted extra capacity so we never get too tight.

But when you're in times like this where everyone's understanding taking on a little bit more capacity, being a little bit more flexible, you do want to run a little leaner. And so whereas normally you might only want everybody at 85% capacity or something and your steer ahead on your iron pipeline right now, you want everyone at a hundred percent capacity or 110% capacity, you know, uh, I think that's a, that's a different mindset, but it's kind of like if we wanna all get through this together and this to not affect anyone personally, everybody is just pretty willing to roll up their sleeves and, and help where needed.

Jonathan:

Yeah. And I think some industries and companies are certainly affected, um, more drastically or more rapidly than others, uh, in this situation. But I would also, I would also caution against the knee jerk reaction to like, the way to get through this is to lay off some of my team and to shave that overhead. Like maybe, but maybe not yet because I mean, think about the cost of turnover. I think it's like something in like the U S businesses, uh, it costs businesses like over a trillion dollars annually just in turnover costs and of like people leaving and then the hiring process to, to retrain and to onboard and, and like the lost knowledge along the way. And it's like your, your core team that you have right now, how can you maybe for a time just get a little more creative on how to sustain and support. Um, and not every business will have the luxury to do that, but, but I think that be mindful of the cost to letting people go as you think about the savings of letting people go. 

Chris:

Yeah. And you know, it's also like, if you want the people to be there for you, when business picks back up, you've got to be sensitive to how you treat them. Now. And I've seen a, you know, a lot of business owners I'm friends with that, um, you know, don't have the luxury of a bit a cash in the bank account that to sustain a few slow months, they're treating this carefully but creatively, and some people are, are saying, you know, our offering to the employees, does anyone want to go to part time and take, you know, a few days off unpaid? Does, you know, does anyone, uh, you know, like get a little creative first and see if you get any hands raised. Um, and then, and another company I know has said, you know, we're going to look at the impact of our sales. You know, like if our sales go down 20%, then we've got to bring payroll down 20% across the board because it's, you know, that way our cashflow stays, stays even like it should be. 

So I think you know, you, the, the most important thing you can do would be to put together a real simple spreadsheet on your cashflow and look week by week. How can you get creative, you know, like, are there vendors that you can get terms with and ask them if you can pay them, you know, two months from now, do you have any credit available to you that you can use? Like the SBA here in the U S has just put out a lot of disaster relief loans that you can get within two weeks. So, you know, could that be an option for you to, to get a short term loan. The federal government here is also looking at reimbursing or doing, you know, tax credits to cover a couple of weeks of payroll.

And so I would, I'd suggest, you know, get on top of your own cash flow and be plugged in to the things that your local and federal government might be doing to, to, to make this a little bit easier and then get creative with your employees, with your vendors, with, you know, any kind of suppliers that you have because everyone is going through this and it's, it's really just, you know, how can we work through it together? Can we, can we barter, you know, can, can you agree to give someone free services in exchange for something that you need and it works out well for both of you. Um, this is just a, 

Jonathan:

This could be a really good time to open up some different channel opportunities with partners that you've been thinking like, Oh, this is, that'd be a great trade, a situation and like their customer base and our customer base works well together and that's a perfect opportunity for that right now. Yeah. 

Chris:

All right. Well as we close this out, uh, anything else that you want to share about just like preparing your business for an unpredictable downturn or whatever this is?

Jonathan:

Um, I mean, uh, I would just think to think of yourself, how do you protect your customer base? How do you protect your employees and how do you protect, how you do what you do, right? Like the knowledge of like, you know, this will end, this will turn around and you don't want to lose sight of how you got to where you are. 

It makes me think of like, you know, my background is in just like extreme adventure and mountaineering and exploration and it makes me thin

k of when I would go out into like wild environments and uh, and meet like ridiculous weather and I always felt comfortable. Like to a lot of people, it might sound insane to me to be like in Iceland in the middle of like a 85 mile an hour, like a storm, like white out and uh, in like in the middle of nowhere, just, you can't see a thing in any direction. And to me I was like, okay in that, because I knew that like in the backpack I had the four season tent I needed and my negative 20 degrees sleeping bag and my sleeping pad and my little um, cooking stove so I could melt snow for water and I had dehydrated meals and enough clothing and, and just like I had what I needed.

 

And so that's for everybody to think like what are the essentials that you have in your backpack that you have what you need. That like in my instance I could just, if it got too bad I can stop and stay exactly where I was. I can pitch that tent and I could get inside and just wait it out because like I was prepared to just sit and like reassess and not freak out. That's the, that's the biggest thing in, in those environments in the adventure world is like when you're faced with the extreme situation, like to not freak out and to just take a step back and, and like stay where you are for a moment and reassess the terrain and reassess your plan and then, and then pack up again and move forward when possible.

Chris:

That's such a great parallel. We should get bear Grylls on the podcast series. Yeah. Let's tell Becky the a, that that would be so cool to, to draw the, the similarities between, you know, surviving in the, in the wild and surviving through a downturn like this, but all right, well I echo everything that you said about the business. Uh, if we can help people in any way. It's funny, we have had a lot of people writing in and saying, you know, now that everybody's sitting at home, I feel like this is, I finally have time to get organized. You know, that I'm being forced to slow down. And so this is something I've been wanting to do. So if we can help anybody that's listening in any way, we'd love to help you get started. Um, even if that means a, you know, give, giving a the software to you, uh, at no cost at the beginning, just to get you set up. So email our team, uh, reach out to us. Uh, we're here to help you through this and hopefully some of the things we talked about are helpful as you're navigating this for your own business. Thanks for listening, Jonathan. 




Topics Covered

  • How meetings have actually improved and felt more connected via Zoom
  • How to virtually foster team engagement like quarterly book clubs and Donut meetings
  • How we took inventory of our tech stack and the essential tools to be successful while working remotely
  • How to reposition your messaging based on the shift in the market and being ready to flip quickly
  • Why protecting the knowledge in your business is important
  • The pivot to virtual opportunities in times like these
  • Why we’re doubling down on product
  • When you need to adjust your hiring plans
  • Why supporting your employee’s personal motivations and interests matters
  • Being transparent about the company’s state of health
  • Putting together a spreadsheet of your cash flow and determining how you can get creative

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