I’m upset but still have a business to run

Jun 08, 2020

No matter how you feel personally about anything happening in the country or world as a whole, it’s your job to do your job.

With so many negative things happening now, it’s easy to be depressed and worried and upset about any number of things. But here’s something that is hard to argue with: We still have businesses to run. We need to eat. We need to pay our bills. We also all have employees who are depending on us to keep their jobs. We have to keep our businesses going in spite of everything. Plus, we have clients who need us. Their problems aren’t going away. They need us now and will need us in the future more than ever. These are OUR responsibilities as business owners and managers.

The fact that we have these businesses that allow us to take care of our families and ourselves gives us the luxury of being able to worry about other people and the bigger picture of what is happening. We cannot forget that.

Let’s take a look at our immediate priorities to make sure they are being addressed:

  1. The safety and mental health of our families. This has to come first. Our children and spouses are not immune to the worry and stress of what is happening in our country. We have to talk to them, reassure them that they (and you) will be OK, and take care of paying the bills and getting them everything they need to have a decent life. We have to be sensitive to their fears and be the calming voice of optimism in spite of it all. We will get through all of this.
  2. Employee safety and well-being. I never like to compare employees to family members but the truth is they are in a sense just that. They are our business “family,” and they have all the same fears and anxieties our other family members are having. Regardless of how you feel about the COVID-19 virus yourself, we all need to be sure our offices are clean and support proper physical distancing before we can expect our people to come back in. This is extremely important. We also need to understand their other issues such as childcare or dealing with a sick family member whom they can’t see, and worries about their other family members or friends.
  3. Clients’ immediate and longer term needs that must be met. I was talking to a friend of mine this weekend who works in operations and IT for a company. He said if he had his druthers he would never talk to a client but rather just do his technical stuff and communicate with the people who work for him. But he also said he regularly ends up talking with their clients and always learns something from that. All of our businesses depend on clients and meeting their needs. That is the most fundamental thing we have to remember. But do we really know what those needs are right now? And what are we changing in our businesses and offerings that reflect an understanding of those client needs? It isn’t “business as usual” for most of our clients and we cannot act as if it’s so. We have to be sensitive to their priorities and concerns and act accordingly. We need to TALK to these people and not assume our people are doing what is necessary to determine and address those needs. It is our job to do so.
  4. Financial condition of the business. Cash flow and solvency are number one. Are you doing your cash flow forecasting? Are you relentlessly getting all that unbilled work in process cleaned out every month? Are you doing everything you can to relieve any overhead expenses? Are you doing what you have to do to collect money that’s owed to you? Are you doing what you should to have all the available credit you might need? These things are essential now more than ever. Be relentless!

My conclusion here – you have a lot of responsibility and no matter how you feel personally about anything happening in the country or world as a whole, it’s your job to do your job. So hold your head up and do it!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at mzweig@zweiggroup.com.

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.