by Frank Silverman
As we continue to work — and work our way back to normalcy — in 2021, I cannot help but reflect on how unique, tough and crazy 2020 was. The scariest part for me was the realization of how fragile our economy is and how fragile a business can be.
A business, whether a martial arts school or something else, is almost like a living being. It needs certain resources (air, food and water for us; income and patrons for a business) to survive and thrive. Without them, a business will slowly begin to “starve” and then will cease to exist.
That by itself isn’t scary. We all know this. What is scary is that something we had never heard of, something that didn’t even exist two years ago, could be the force that suddenly cuts off these resources and changes our lives forever. What is really scary is that it can happen again, without warning, at any time. And most likely, it will. Even if we don’t see another pandemic in our lifetimes, there will be another crisis to take its place. The good news is we will be far better prepared for whatever is in store for us.
Recently, I spoke at a MAIA event and gave my top five things I would do to prepare for a post-pandemic world, operating under the best guess that it will happen again (although we all hope it never does). Keep in mind that this is a business magazine, so I kept the list to business necessities.
Prepare for “virtual” to play a role forever. Most schools transitioned quickly to virtual lessons. For others, the change was a struggle. The latter probably would like to pretend that the need for virtual learning has largely passed — but now our students have a taste of it, and it will become a standard offering for schools that wish to be around in 10 years. In the event that you need to go virtual again (even short-term for a snowstorm or other weather emergency), make sure you have a better system in place.
However great you are now, become even better at connecting with your student and their parents. The schools that used Facebook, Constant Contact, text messages, emails, mailing lists and so on found that it was easy to get in contact early and stay in contact with their students, and they had better retention than those schools that didn’t. Become better at this. It can only help.
Have multiple banking relationships, including at least one relationship with a smaller community bank. When many larger banks closed, community banks were still there to help. Additionally, when PPP was enacted, the smaller banks were often far more helpful for small businesses.
Always have your estate planning up to date. I say this not merely because of COVID but because as disasters happen, we all need to be prepared for what would become of our businesses and, more important, families without us.
Have supplies on hand. I will never, ever be caught with only one roll of toilet paper or a half bottle of sanitizer. Add these and personal protection equipment to the list of emergency supplies to always keep on hand, along with the usual standbys such as batteries, water and so on.
Let’s hope that all this is a waste of time — better safe than sorry. Should we have another pandemic or anything of a similar nature, however, we’ll be better prepared.
To contact Frank Silverman, send an email to [email protected] Find him on Twitter and Facebook at @franksilverman.
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