4 Min ReadBusiness 22 April 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has required everyone to abruptly adjust their entire lives with little to no warning or time for preparation. Schools across the country closed in a matter of days, many businesses were suddenly forced to work from home until further notice, and individuals everywhere were left wondering how to get the basic daily necessities. As the founder and CEO of a company as well as the mother to a young boy, creating and sticking to this new normal has been quite an adjustment and doing it from multiple angles has been nothing short of a challenge
If there's any silver lining here, it's the extra time I have to spend with my son and partner. I'll be taking advantage of those moments for as long as we can.
I'm not just managing my company and team at Naturalicious, I am also in charge of maintaining a consistent schedule for my 9-year-old son all while carving out time for myself to adapt to a new routine. As the nation approaches one full month of extreme social distancing that includes working and schooling at home, my "new normal" has finally taken shape, but it didn't come without a lot of struggle and plenty of trial and error. I'm here to share what's worked for me in the hope it may work for you, too.
As The Leader Of My Team…
It's my responsibility to ensure that my staff feels the least amount of stress as possible so that they can remain productive and healthy during this time. My first order of business was to close our office and allow my team to work from home with their full pay.
While we are all at home, technology has allowed us to remain efficiently connected: we communicate via Slack, and host our regular meetings via Google Hangouts. All full-time, salaried employees at Naturalicious have always had unlimited vacation time, unlimited PTO, and unlimited sick days. So working from home actually isn't that foreign of a concept for us. Additionally, our Operations Lead does a great job of keeping our inventory levels on par consistently, and she began planning for a shortage in supply due to coronavirus when we first started to hear that it may impact small businesses in a big way.
As the founder and CEO of a company as well as the mother to a young boy, creating and sticking to this new normal has been quite an adjustment and doing it from multiple angles has been nothing short of a challenge.
At the same time, our marketing team is pressing full steam ahead to ensure our overall brand messaging doesn't get lost in the sea of COVID-19 chaos. From that standpoint, it's been business as usual. Our supply chain has definitely been affected. Though we manufacture all of our products in the U.S., some of our raw materials and packaging are imported from Europe and Africa. But with the proper planning, we've always done (even before COVID-19) and our solid contingency plan is allowing us to feel confident about weathering this storm.
We realize customers may not be working as much as usual and they may be tightening up their wallets during this time. But we've built an extremely strong and loyal tribe of thousands of Claymates (aka our customers) who have proactively informed us that they're actually doubling down on stocking up on Naturalicious while they are quarantined.
I'm adamant that my son Caiden sticks to a regular schedule. Just because he's away from the classroom doesn't mean he has the flexibility to start his schoolwork in the middle of the afternoon or prioritize cartoons over academics. We've been very diligent about his schedule — waking up, eating breakfast, and beginning schoolwork as normal. It's important for my son to stick to a routine for himself and for me. As the owner of a business, I have to maintain my company during operating hours. I still have conference calls and virtual company meetings as well as manufacturing and marketing decisions to make. Of course, there is a little flexibility and every day is different, but the general structure is in place and we work together to make sure our daytime is productive and running smoothly.
Ohh Glorious Me Time...
It can be hard to carve out time for myself in a normal world, let alone during a pandemic. But I find moments to workout or take a walk, read a book, take a bath, or simply take a few breaths. I've found one of the hardest adjustments is separating work from home life as they are both under the same roof for the foreseeable future. It's important to step away from the designated work area for a moment, and I'm fortunate to have a backyard where I can get some fresh air. Cooking for my family or playing a game with my son falls under me time, as well, so I'm reminding myself to be fully present in those moments and not thinking about the work I just left in the other room. If there's any silver lining here, it's the extra time I have to spend with my son and partner. I'll be taking advantage of those moments for as long as we can.
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Whether it's your child or your brand, there is nothing quite like the excitement you get when you see the fruits of your efforts grow. In the face of aversion, you must remain cool-minded and adaptable to remain effective. This can be quite stressful, and every minute counts. Alone, the responsibility can be overwhelming - wouldn't it be nice if things just ran themselves sometimes? Especially those things that we do mindlessly all the time, and seem to take up most of our time?
When you start a business, you soon come to realize that in order to grow your brand, you need to be extremely organized. And to be efficiently organized, it is imperative that you master the art of managing your time. The saying 'time is money' rings true when it comes to growth. This is why we're going to provide you with helpful tips that will allow you to save time so you can focus on growing your brand.
Use the Right Tools
Technology has changed the way we conduct our business with each other. Today, more than ever before, we have access to data which gives us clearer insight and vision, as well as better tools for productivity. However, as we all know, this is all conditional to your intent. As much as a smartphone can be a tool for productivity, it can also be a fantastic source of distraction and procrastination, which is directly detrimental to said productivity. Automation is an advantage that is available to almost everyone today when it would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.
When a brand is still young, the team is still close-knit and there isn't too much coordination necessary when it comes to keeping up to date and on top of work. Chat groups and video calls can do, as well as simple task-managing apps. But as you grow, your workflow becomes more complex and the volume of data generated by your company will very quickly become a logistical nightmare.
Telltale signs of data overwhelming are endless excel sheets, frantic Post-it notes all around the (real or digital) office, and relying on the consumer rather than business-oriented data storage and communications solutions. These have their limits, and investing in a holistic company-wide system will not be a waste.
Work More Effectively
Your workflow can be simplified into smaller tasks which follow each other in a sequence, which can have conditional elements to it. That's where automation comes in. If you can draw it in a flowchart, you can automate it. Tasks that would have taken days can be outsourced to a machine that will not only perform but also learn in the process.
There is now a myriad of online services for freelancers which essentially give them the productivity potential of a small firm. We're now at the point where bots at https://www.hellobonsai.com/contract-templates can generate custom templates for the documents your brand needs, replacing the need for a legal consultant to intervene. You just need to know what you want to automate, and what you want to make out of it. If you create a logical process from the inception of your brand, then the automation will be seamless, as all you will need to do is add more tasks.
Be Mobile and Flexible
Most of your coworkers and clients will probably already have a smartphone, or will soon. It is also very likely that beyond using these for leisure and social activities, they use them for work. It is now normal to switch off the heating in that apartment you've been renting out while you are on holiday because your AirBNB tenants are overusing it. Or to track the status of your latest food delivery while you are sitting on the toilet.
Consumers today are not only constantly on the move, but they are also increasingly data-focused. They will be looking for results and have the capabilities they need to research, analyze, and calculate what they deem necessary to ensure they will be making the right decision. They thus also expect the same in return, in the form of bespoke customer service that is both intelligent and responsive.
Data is everywhere and is relatively easy to obtain. In a single click, you can generate a web analysis that will reveal more information about your blog or website than your doctor will ever tell you about your own body. Before diving into this ocean of data, take time to identify what is really important to you. Brainstorming is a great tool to really identify and prioritize what you and your team should be focusing on first. If you try to wage war on all fronts, then the chances of winning are slim.
With the right tools and the right method, you can save yourself quite a considerable amount of time. With both the agility and flexibility that data managing and automation software brings to the table, you will see an increase in your productivity. Careful planning is key, and if you focus on streamlining your workflow, you will be able to take your brand to the next level.