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As Businesses Reopen, a Good Plan and Flexibility are Key

reopen

As Businesses Reopen, a Good Plan and Flexibility are Key

With the economy trying to overcome the effects of COVID-19 and the nation’s political unrest, business leaders face a challenge like never before as stores and offices reopen and try to lure back customers and clients.

“Even before our current crisis, it’s always been important for businesses to respond to unanticipated changes in the market that threatened their product or business model,” says Adam Witty, the ForbesBooks co-author of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant.

“Now, a willingness to adapt to changing consumer habits and ways of doing business will be more important than ever. One big challenge will be that businesses need to have a plan as they work to return their operations to normal, but they also need to remain flexible and willing to change that plan as the circumstances around them change.”

At the same time, all of this will need to be done while following CDC guidelines and taking into account the concerns of employees and customers, says Witty, who also is the founder and CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com).

“I’m a big believer in making decisions based on facts and data,” he says. “But if you don’t stay on top of what has been a very fluid situation, you could end up making decisions based on information that is already outdated.”

Going forward, Witty says, businesses need to:

Play the long game. It’s easy to get into a “survive-the-week” mindset, and certainly businesses need to make some things happen now to see them through the crisis. But as they ride out the difficulties in the short-term, Witty says, they also need to create a plan that will help them prosper over the long haul.

Be ready for the worst, hope for the best. With 41 million people who want to work out of work, the path back to normal will not be easy, and most people are predicting the recession will continue at least into early 2021. “Some businesses aren’t going to be able to reopen at all, and that includes big retail chains and local mom-and-pop stores,” Witty says. “That’s going to have a ripple effect in the economy.” So, as much as everyone may hope for a quick turnaround, it’s still best to make your plans based on the idea that the economic downturn will last a long while, he says.

Stay optimistic. These are the most challenging circumstances any business has faced in at least the last 50 years, Witty says. Despite that, business leaders and their employees can’t let gloom rule their feelings and emotions. “When you’re going through tough times,” he says, “it’s better to have an optimistic attitude than a pessimistic attitude.”

“As a businessperson, my hope is that we’ve already seen the bottom, and that each month going forward the economy will get better,” Witty says. “With that said, there is no playbook for this. But the businesses where leaders and employees all work together, plan carefully, and try to keep a positive attitude are the ones most likely to emerge in good shape when this is over.”

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Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant, is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured in The Wall Street JournalInvestors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.

relevant

How Businesses Can Avoid Becoming Irrelevant In A Changing World

The business world has produced a veritable graveyard of once magnificently successful companies that came, conquered and thrived – but ultimately perished.

In many cases, those businesses share a common reason for their demise: Times changed. They didn’t.

“I’ve always been fond of the saying that if you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less,” says Adam Witty, a successful entrepreneur and the ForbesBooks co-author of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant.

“Over the years, many businesses discovered they didn’t change quickly enough, much to their chagrin. Others realized their old business model no longer applied, and they did adapt.”

In the last decade or so, media companies especially have had to navigate their way through an extraordinary disruption of their business models, says Witty, who also is the founder and CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com).

“Reading habits and advertising habits shifted,” he says. “This meant media companies needed to diversify and be innovative if they wanted to continue to thrive.”

Witty was involved in such a diversification recently when his company announced a partnership with American City Business Journals, the publisher of 44 weekly Business Journals in cities across the U.S. Through the partnership, American City Business Journals is branching out into the book-publishing field with the creation of Business Journals Books, an enterprise that will be operated jointly with Witty’s company.

“This is an exciting new way for them to be creative and create a new revenue stream for their business,” Witty says.

With COVID-19 and the 2020 recession forcing companies to navigate their way through even more changes, Witty says businesses that want to avoid tumbling into irrelevance need to:

Review and rank their products. A few years ago when Witty’s company did such a ranking, he realized one product line the business had offered for years didn’t measure up and needed to go. “It was hard to deliver, had low gross margins, was extremely people intensive, and had very limited scalability,” he says. “The time, energy, effort and capital we were investing in this product line were taking away our ability to invest in new products that would be more scalable and more profitable.”

Always be on the lookout for new ideas. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow, so savvy business leaders are always open to new ideas for bringing in revenue, Witty says. “You should also encourage employees to suggest ideas,” he says. “Maybe a lot of those won’t work. But the more ideas that get tossed around, the better the odds something will prove a winner.”

Favor facts and data over opinions. No matter how much an entrepreneur loves the business plan they used originally to launch their business, they need to make decisions about the future based on facts and data, Witty says. “You must deal with the way things are, rather than the way you want them to be,” he says. “Facts and data will tell you the way things are.”

“Because of COVID-19 and the recession, a willingness to adapt to changing consumer habits and ways of doing business is probably more important than ever,” Witty says. “The businesses most likely to thrive coming out of this are those that have a plan, but also remain flexible and are willing to change that plan as the circumstances around them change.”

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Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant, is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.

business owners

What Small Business Owners Can Do to Steer Their Way Through a Crisis

As the nation’s economy continues to struggle because of the impact of COVID-19, small business owners and their leadership skills are being put to the test.

They face the task of adapting to the crisis and helping their employees adapt as well. But just what steps can business leaders take to keep employee morale high, make sure the business stays afloat, and manage their own concerns about the future?

One of the most important things is to be transparent with employees about where the business stands, says Adam Witty, ForbesBooks co-author of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant.

“Face the facts head-on and don’t try to sugarcoat it,” says Witty, the founder and CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). “Share with your team, in calm and rational terms, what impacts you expect the virus to have on your business and what the business is doing to try to mitigate those negative impacts.”

Witty suggests other steps business leaders need to take as they manage their way through the crisis:

Over-communicate. With remote work, communicating is more important now than ever. In an office, much of the communication happens naturally as people drop by each other’s offices or pass in the hallway. With everyone spread out, communication can easily fall by the wayside so it needs to be more intentional. Witty says it’s critical to use video communication like Zoom or Google Hangouts whenever possible to interact with employees. He also makes a point of sending at least three company-wide video messages a week. “In times of great uncertainty, communicate more not less,” he says. “In the absence of information, people tell themselves stories, and I can promise they are bad stories.”

Project calm. When a leader is anxious and fearful, everyone will pick up on that and they, too, will become anxious and fearful. “If your employees see that you are worried, they will begin to think it is all over,” Witty says. That doesn’t mean to fake it or to pretend the situation isn’t bad. “We can’t control the situation we find ourselves in,” he says. “But we can control how we react to the situation, and how we react will dictate our results.”

Consider introducing new products or services. Now is a good time to get innovative, Witty says, so brainstorm with your team about alternative ways to bring in revenue if your usual sources have been disrupted. For example, some restaurants that were strictly sit-down establishments pivoted to offer takeout and delivery. Witty’s own company created new publishing and marketing products aimed at potential clients who may be more cost-conscious during these tough economic times.

Finally, Witty says, have a plan.

“Hopefully, you already have a strategic plan for your business that you are executing week in and week out,” he says. “As we continue to move along through this crisis, that plan will need to be adjusted as COVID-19 makes some pieces of your plan obsolete.”

He suggests meeting weekly, if not more often, to keep updating the plan to reflect the new realities. Then communicate the plan and its latest adjustments to your team.

“When employees know the leaders have a plan,” Witty says, “it creates calm and confidence.”

______________________________________________________

Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant, is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured in The Wall Street JournalInvestors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.

crisis

What Small Business Owners Can Do to Steer Their Way Through a Crisis

As the nation’s economy continues to struggle because of the impact of COVID-19, small business owners and their leadership skills are being put to the test.

They face the task of adapting to the crisis and helping their employees adapt as well. But just what steps can business leaders take to keep employee morale high, make sure the business stays afloat, and manage their own concerns about the future?

One of the most important things is to be transparent with employees about where the business stands, says Adam Witty, ForbesBooks co-author of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant.

“Face the facts head-on and don’t try to sugarcoat it,” says Witty, the founder, and CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). “Share with your team, in calm and rational terms, what impacts you expect the virus to have on your business and what the business is doing to try to mitigate those negative impacts.”

Witty suggests other steps business leaders need to take as they manage their way through the crisis:

Over-communicate. With remote work, communicating is more important now than ever. In an office, much of the communication happens naturally as people drop by each other’s offices or pass in the hallway. With everyone spread out, communication can easily fall by the wayside so it needs to be more intentional. Witty says it’s critical to use video communication like Zoom or Google Hangouts whenever possible to interact with employees. He also makes a point of sending at least three company-wide video messages a week. “In times of great uncertainty, communicate more not less,” he says. “In the absence of information, people tell themselves stories, and I can promise they are bad stories.”

Project calm. When a leader is anxious and fearful, everyone will pick up on that and they, too, will become anxious and fearful. “If your employees see that you are worried, they will begin to think it is all over,” Witty says. That doesn’t mean to fake it or to pretend the situation isn’t bad. “We can’t control the situation we find ourselves in,” he says. “But we can control how we react to the situation, and how we react will dictate our results.”

Consider introducing new products or services. Now is a good time to get innovative, Witty says, so brainstorm with your team about alternative ways to bring in revenue if your usual sources have been disrupted. For example, some restaurants that were strictly sit-down establishments pivoted to offer takeout and delivery. Witty’s own company created new publishing and marketing products aimed at potential clients who may be more cost-conscious during these tough economic times.

Finally, Witty says, have a plan.

“Hopefully, you already have a strategic plan for your business that you are executing week in and week out,” he says. “As we continue to move along through this crisis, that plan will need to be adjusted as COVID-19 makes some pieces of your plan obsolete.”

He suggests meeting weekly, if not more often, to keep updating the plan to reflect the new realities. Then communicate the plan and its latest adjustments to your team.

“When employees know the leaders have a plan,” Witty says, “it creates calm and confidence.”

____________________________________________________________

Adam Witty, co-author with Rusty Shelton of Authority Marketing: Your Blueprint to Build Thought Leadership That Grows Business, Attracts Opportunity, and Makes Competition Irrelevant, is the CEO of Advantage|ForbesBooks (www.advantagefamily.com). Witty started Advantage in 2005 in a spare bedroom of his home. The company helps busy professionals become the authority in their field through publishing and marketing. In 2016, Advantage launched a partnership with Forbes to create ForbesBooks, a business book publisher for top business leaders. Witty is the author of seven books, and is also a sought-after speaker, teacher and consultant on marketing and business growth techniques for entrepreneurs and authors. He has been featured in The Wall Street JournalInvestors Business Daily and USA Today, and has appeared on ABC and Fox.