March 19, 2020
One of the things I love most about my work with Habif Properties is that I interact regularly with close to 300 tenants, each of whom are leaders within their own business or industry. During most days, my interaction with you is positive although I am sometimes required to work with owners who face a crisis in their business, whether from internal or external forces.
Never could I envision a time like today when I would speak to all our tenants regarding a national crisis on the magnitude of COVID-19. As business owners, all of us are facing a challenge unlike anything we could ever have imagined. With dwindling customers and clients to provide a stream of revenue, each of us could easily throw in the towel and declare this the end of business as we know it. In my company’s case, monthly bills that need to be paid during the crisis include mortgages, insurance, taxes, utilities, maintenance and employee salaries. The list of bills that each of you face is no less onerous. Clearly, we are all in this crisis together.
The good news is that each of you became a business owner and leader because you possess special traits that allowed you to rise above your peers and create a business that not only benefits you and your family but your employees and their families. Now is the time for each of us to show these leadership traits and commit to fight through this unimaginable challenge.
Our employees are being bombarded with negative news daily from both the media and their friends. These employees are the lifeblood of our business. It is up to us as business leaders to keep them from going negative.
While I am typically not a believer in miracles, I am optimistic that our country is mustering the resources needed to both find a cure for COVID-19 and a vaccine to limit future cases. Our government is also working on an economic stimulus plan that will hopefully offer relief to both small and large business owners.
Below is a list of resources and suggestions that you may find helpful during the current turmoil to your business. I am also providing a list of five suggestions from Jan Bruce with Forbes Magazine on how you, as a leader, can foster a more resilient organization during the current crisis.
Resources and suggestions for handling the COVID-19 crisis:
- Business Interruption Insurance. Contact your business insurer to file a claim for business interruption insurance. Even though this claim may be denied due to coverage restrictions, filing a claim now will preserve your right to insurance coverage in the event the government mandates insurance companies cover claims for loss of business due to the COVID-19 crisis.
- SBA loans. Call 800.659.2955 or email https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. Loans of up to $2 million are being made available by the Small Business Administration for payroll, accounts payable and other business obligations. Learn more at https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
- Kabbage line of Credit. You can apply online at https://www.kabbage.com/funding for a line of credit of up to $250,000 to be paid over 6 to 18 months with no origination fees provided you have been in business for more than one year and have business revenue of more than $50,000 per year.
- Square Capital Financing: Square customers may be eligible for businesses loans between $500-$250,000. Log in to your Square Dashboard for more information.
- Delivery and Pickup Opportunities. If you operate a restaurant or similar business, act now to create delivery options for your customers with GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats or similar companies. Learn more at https://restaurantden.com/the-7-best-restaurant-food-delivery-services-to-partner-with/
- Monitor health conditions at your workplace. CDC offers excellent resources for this purpose at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- Guide for managing newly remote employees https://hbr.org/2020/03/a-guide-to-managing-your-newly-remote-workers
Five Leadership Suggestions from Jan Bruce with Forbes Magazine:
- Keep Your Emotions in Check. Coronavirus has our brains pinging on “future threat,” driving global anxiety and shared fear, as we all live in this extreme state of uncertainty. However, as leaders in the organization, you set the tone. Model calm: Be realistic about the situation, but keep the panic private. Take “worry time” on your own time, but allow yourself the space to vent. It will help confine your worries to appropriate times and places without risking the morale of your people. Provide employees with accurate and up to date information, while including positive messages—cautiously positive messages are helpful, especially when employees are working remotely.
- Remain Realistic. People will begin to catastrophize in this extreme situation. It’s a natural response that’s rooted in self-preservation. While blind optimism can come off as dismissive and dishonest in a situation like this when you can’t guarantee that everything will be okay, you can model realistic optimism; planning for the best possible outcome. This involves naming the worst-case scenario, followed by the best-case scenario, and ultimately landing on what is most likely to occur. Then outline the steps to make this happen in a productive and practical way. Your people want to hear that you have a plan in place. Determine the steps before you share them, and make sure they are ones you can deliver on.
- Adaptivity is Key. Working smart means making informed adjustments based on the information you have. Set up policies that allow people to work smartly and with minimal risk. Communicate with your team around goals and responsibilities, individually (when possible), on an organization-wide level, and online. Determine the best tools to help your people stay flexible, engaged, and connected. Limit the amount of energy spent on speculation.
- Encourage Empathy. While our fear responses may escalate beyond reason, the fear response itself is normal. First and foremost—even before constructing a plan—make sure to provide your employees with a foundation of support. This is key to building trust with your employees, who, studies show, are more likely to get behind a leader they connect to. Rather than trying to “fix” the situation, simply listen. By definition, empathy involves taking the perspective of another, which will help your employees feel less alone in whatever feeling they’re responding with. In addition, rather than sugar-coating messages for people, try relating to their feelings and being straight but supportive about the current situation.
- Empower Your People. Last, but very important, encourage agency, empowerment, and self-care. Message that accepting help is okay. Make tools to help people stay flexible, out of danger, and encourage a sense of teamwork and collaboration, even if quarantined or working remotely for a prolonged period. Help people to help themselves. According to meQuilibrium’s co-founder and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adam Perlman, who is also Director of Integrative Health and Wellbeing for Mayo Clinic Florida and Medical Director for Employee Wellbeing on the Mayo Florida campus, “In times of uncertainty we forget or ignore the most fundamental self-care. We should do what we should always do: Take care of ourselves, wash our hands, and make adjustments to work at home. These things give us a sense of control when the world at large seems more overwhelming.”
From all of us at Habif Properties, be strong and stay safe.