How to Be Prepared for Whatever the Year Throws at You

Starting with a pandemic that effectively shut down many small, and large, businesses and flowing into business decisions regarding a firm stance on equality, 2020 has certainly given companies their share of fire drills. It’s left many executives wondering how to handle everything and fearing what’s coming next.

So, how can a business owner navigate less-than-ideal times? Here are 5 tips to help traverse the changes, with some current examples.

Double down on your social media and ethics policies. You and your employees are brand ambassadors, even off the clock. For example, if you’re a restaurant owner and an employee is discussing on social media how they don’t wear masks when prepping food (even though it’s company policy), it could spell trouble for your business.

It’s important to not only remind everyone of your social media and ethics policies, but to enforce them. If you don’t have these policies, now is a great time to create and put them in place (if you need help, I know some pretty stellar PR people ). Be sure to consult an attorney before deploying the new policies.

Respond in a timely manner. If something does occur that affects your company, people will want to be kept informed. Be sure that you’re responding in a timely manner – even if you don’t have an answer immediately. If you let them know you’re working on it, it may quell the anger or fear.

Consider how all audiences may react to your message. When putting out a sensitive message, think about everyone it touches – your customers, your employees, the general public, even your family. How will each group react? Is there a way to satisfy everyone, without backtracking? If not, what is the message that best aligns with your company and its values?

Don’t say anything you don’t truly believe. The internet can be a wonderful place to research just about anything, including your and your company’s past. Avoid making statements that are simply performative. (Here’s a great blog post by Apprentice Liam about performative allyship during Pride).

Today, people want to see that you’re backing those words with your actions and are more likely to frequent businesses that hold firm to their beliefs. Ben & Jerry’s is the best example I can use here. The company knows that its stance will not please everyone, and will likely anger many, but the founders believe what they say and walk the walk.

Be clear and concise in your messaging. With any communication – internal or external –avoid confusing messaging. Be clear about your stance, goals and values. It will help people better understand your company and what you believe.

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