Insights from our Small Business Webinar series
Many small businesses are currently putting considerable effort into adapting and maintaining their sales, marketing and customer service efforts, and with good reason. Triaging those parts of the business is vitally important during this public health emergency, but it’s easy to deprioritize “the back office,” or those supportive efforts that help keep the business running. That includes roles like accounting, administration, compliance, or IT services and support, among others.
In our latest Small Business Webinar, “Keeping your business operating effectively in the new normal,” author and CEO of GrowBiz Media Rieva Lesonsky says that now is the perfect time to evaluate your business operations and craft a new normal.
Lesonsky recommends starting by evaluating what your business is now. “Focus on your back-office operations. They support the customer-facing jobs, keeping sales, marketing and customer service effective and productive. That’s why they’re so crucial for small business. Figure out what’s most important to your business, what’s working and what’s not. That’s how you prioritize.”
Start by listing all the back-office tasks, Lesonsky recommends. “Then ask yourself, do you have the right people in the right job? Maybe the employees you hired to do the job back then are no longer capable of doing the job. Can you send them to training to help them get better at it?”
Other considerations: Do you need employees to be in your current office space? Look at salary and benefits, and the physical space they require. Can you set up an alternative that can save you on costs? Can you cut rent with a smaller in-office staff?
Many of us are working from home right now, says Lesonsky. Which roles can remain virtual after the COVID-19 restrictions ease?
“This will have a few benefits for you,” adds Lesonsky. “One, it’s going to open up the labor pool. If you don’t have employees who worry about the commute, you can include hires across the state or even the country. That might save you money, especially if you’re in an area with a high cost of living and you can hire someone in a more rural location.”
Surveys have shown that employees who work remotely are more loyal, more productive and happier, she adds.
Another benefit: lower overhead costs. “If you’re currently renting a 1,000-square-foot office but you send 30% of your workforce home to work, maybe you can rent a smaller 600-square-foot office instead.”
When transforming your back office, says Lesonsky, it’s smart to begin with a tech-checkup. “The reason we can have employees work virtually is because of technology. If you’re taking a certain number of employees and sending them home, do they have the tools to do the job in their home and to communicate with you and the rest of the team?”
Conduct a survey to assess whether employees are set up properly. What problems are they having as they work from home right now? Are machines crashing? Do they have the right software? Do they have sufficient hardware that’s capable of operating software at peak efficiency? Do they have good connectivity with a broadband setup? Can they communicate and collaborate with ease?
Some of the costs you save in renting a smaller space can be used to ensure employees have the technology they need to work from home without hiccups.
Security is also important. In addition to having the appropriate anti-virus and anti-malware solutions, a lot of small businesses prefer having a virtual private network (VPN), says Lesonsky.
In addition to technology needs, there are other things you might need to consider when transitioning to a virtual office. Like how to work with an independent contractor or a larger outsourcing company, how to establish guidelines for remote work practices, or how to stay connected to your team in a way that’s supportive and not perceived as micromanaging.
Learn what Leonsky says you can do to help convince your boss that more virtual work is a sound business decision. Access the playback of the webinar and additional handouts in the Verizon Small Business Webinar series.