Online small business workshops address quarantine concerns

Published 2:39 pm Monday, March 30, 2020

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Beaufort County Community College has upcoming free online business workshops to help owners determine how to best react to the pandemic, shutdowns and current market trends. All workshops will be online. Call 252-940-6375 to register or do it online.

“Small Business for Introverts” is a previously scheduled workshop led by Bob Mackowksi. All other workshops will relate specifically to the COVID-19 crisis and will be led by Tonya Snider, founder and CEO of tenBiz, Inc. tenBiz, Inc., offers business services that improve efficiency, increase profitability and create value over the long term. The company develops strategy and manages projects for businesses and organizations through interactive client engagement, consultative relationships and education.

This workshop series is co-sponsored by the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce. Registered attendees will receive a Webex link to the session, by the email address provided by the attendee, 12-24 hours before each session.

Prepare Your Business to Borrow Money Now Before Negative Economic Shifts

Incidents like a Coronavirus outbreak can strain a small business’s financial capacity to make payroll, maintain inventory and respond to sudden drops in demand. Businesses should prepare by exploring capital access options so that the money is there when it’s needed. Early communication with lenders can present financing opportunities even if they don’t need to be taken advantage of until later. Lines of Credit, SBA Disaster Assistance Loans, and small business loans can all be considerations. Find more information on what paperwork is required and how to begin getting your affairs in order today so that you will be prepared to access the funding you may need tomorrow.

This workshop will take place on March 31 from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Keeping Customers and Employees Safe During Unsettling Times

A lot of companies haven’t planned for a crisis on this scale, but many are finding out they need to. This session will show you how to draft a disaster preparedness policy outlining how people should work from home, how to handle travel, what to do about meetings and more. This includes things like what an alternative business model would look like and what that means to both staff and clients. It’s important to define some “worst-case” scenarios in your plan so that it can act as an easy reference guide on what to do, how to communicate and how to keep business running. It’s not too late to put all the elements of a crisis-management or disaster-preparedness plan in place for your business.

This workshop will take place from 2 to 3 p.m. on April 2.

Small Business for Introverts

This previously-scheduled workshop seems even more apt in a business environment of social distancing. As a small business owner, you’re the face of your business. As a shy introvert, you don’t want to be seen or heard. These two ideas don’t mesh naturally. Learn how you can work through or around your reticence to become a successful businessperson. Local photographer and self-professed introvert Bob Mackowski will teach you about your options and how to build your business around them.

Mackowski owns Open Aperture Photography, a commercial and wedding photography business based in New Bern. He’s received an Editors’ Choice Award for the past six consecutive years as one of the most published photographers in the world. With a specialty in small business marketing and visuals, he has a passion for teaching and he speaks to small business owners throughout eastern North Carolina.

This workshop will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. on April 2.

Promoting Your Business and Products During a Crisis

It’s easy to get caught up in panic and crisis mode and abandon marketing and sales in your business, but that is a huge mistake. Sales will automatically start to slow in most businesses just because of the global pandemic, so it’s more important than ever to proactively promote your business and remain on everyone’s radar. For starters, it’s critical to communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you’ve implemented, and how they (as customers) will be protected when they visit your business. Promotions may also help incentivize customers who may be reluctant to patronize your business. The key is to continue to spend time marketing your business and finding ways to make your products and services relevant.

This workshop will run from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on April 4.

Ideas to Keep Cash Flowing During a Pandemic Shutdown

Developing a financial strategy is important so that you can survive the short-term cash crunch while not disadvantaging your long-term profitability. Think creatively by doing things like encouraging customers to purchase gift cards or future services from yours and other’s small businesses to keep cash flowing in your local economy. Find ways to preserve on-hand cash that will be needed for the lean months in the near future and consider suspending expansion initiatives or larger investments until markets stabilize. Evaluate your inventory to determine if there are products that can be quickly turned over. In other words, business as usual will not work. Creativity and positivity will be essential elements to keep cash flowing into your business.

This workshop will run from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on April 7.

How to Manage Employees as Coronavirus Spreads 

Incidents have just as much impact on your workers as they do your clientele. It’s critical to ensure they have the ability to fulfill their duties while protected. Setting expectations and clearly communicating requirements to them will be critical to success. Consider alternative methods for work such as allowing for remote work when possible and adopting flexible sick time policies. The key is to protect your employees while maintaining business operations flow as smoothly as possible.

The workshop will run from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on April 9.

Business Planning and Strategizing as a Coronavirus Antidote 

Think planning and control versus fear and panic. Without a solid plan, a crisis like the one we face now can lead to panic, and panic usually leads to bad decisions. As an entrepreneur, you already know your ability to be resilient, creative and hard-working. This is certainly not the first challenge you have faced. The best tool your business has to combat the effects of this global pandemic is YOU- your experience, your knowledge and your ability to strategize a way through this. This session help you think through critical decision points coming up and strategize a way through this time of uncertainty.

This workshop will run from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on April 14.

Best Practices for Communicating with Customers and Employees in Light of COVID-19 

Customers and employees will likely be exposed to conflicting information and feel anxious or confused. Be sure to communicate safety and general policies promptly, clearly, and in a balanced manner. Be proactive and help put “your people” at ease with consistent and positive language that answers their questions and assures them that they can rely on you. Furthermore, communicate information in a relatable way and help those affected by changes understand the reasoning behind the changes they may experience.

The workshop will run from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on April 16.