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Staying Above the Fog

Author: Liz Frome

It will be years before we fully understand the economic impact of the coronavirus, but one thing is painfully clear right now: Small businesses across the country are facing an existential threat.

Businesses with fewer than 500 employees account for 48% of American jobs and 43.5% of GDP. Yet while these smaller firms are an essential part of the U.S. economy, they’re often financially fragile, with little cash on hand or resources to buffer even a minor financial shock. In the sweeping disruptions caused by the coronavirus, businesses around the country have closed temporarily and they say 55% of the businesses that state they are closed on Yelp will not reopen. Many still have ongoing expenses and little or no revenue and face the prospect that their business model will not be able to sustain in this economy due to Covid19.

How is The Job Shop trying to stay above the fog?

The first week was quite tough. Doing business in San Francisco we were shut down first and are still shut down very tightly. Going through the pandemic as a business owner in San Francisco; feels like a rollercoaster ride you can’t step off. I know it is not easy to be on a roller coaster for months but remember the ride will take you below and above the fog; you just need to hang on until the ride is over. I made a promise after the first week to myself, to my husband, to my company, to my staff, and to my dogs that I would not get sucked into the negative abyss. I felt it happening and I hated the feeling of being below the fog. Things were not clear, and it was hard to focus. I could not move away from the news; I was not eating well, and I was in a state of shock. I felt like each day was on a loop and I knew I needed to make some change and make that change quickly.

I do like challenges and I have been through some challenging times before both personal and with The Job Shop and from my past experiences I knew if I made action plans, I could stay above the mist. I vowed to be gentle and kind with myself and the others on my path and I knew at times I would dip below the fog but if I stuck to my action plans, I would come out through this coronavirus pandemic flying above the clouds.

What is The Job Shop doing to keep above the fog?

The Job Shop is utilizing this time to stay focused on the glass ½ full and treat this as a rebuilding phase. As the owner of The Job Shop, I did not want to come through this time period feeling I had wasted this time from the disruption of coronavirus, but I wanted to stop; take a breath and understand every aspect of my business. I felt I truly needed to do this, so I did not lose what my team had built over the last 22 years. I decided to get up each day; thanked the universe for all that I had and for the business The Job Shop was still able to conduct. I was the only person coming into the office for the first 2 ½ months and I sat down and made action plans and pulled out my project list that had been sitting for the last year. (Before COVID my company was booming in the red-hot job market in San Francisco and many items on the to-do list had been put aside to focus on filling new job orders.) I was not sure how long we would be shut down, but I knew I would not be happy with myself if I did not utilize this gift of time.

I started by turning off the news each day and took one action item at a time. I find myself completely stuck and in a state of shock if I watch the news and try to work; this is when I truly fall below the fog and I feel myself not being able to breathe. I organized my action plan lists and started to tackle the items one at a time. I would and do get distracted along the way, I lose focus at times, I must stop one action item to start another and I get frustrated at times. I remind myself to stay on track, be kind to yourself, take this time to research and be open to all advice and opinions and make sure to reach out and ask for help. This last advice to reach out has been a HUGE key to keeping myself on track and to keeping my business moving forward.

Starting Mid-May I was able to bring back part of my staff and these are some of the items we have tackled on the action plan and are still tackling today:

  • Reorganizing the entire office

  • Meeting with financial consultants and bankers to understand what my options are during this pandemic.

  • Working with contractors to fix anything needed in the office

  • Working with our IT consultants to redo The Job Shop’s computer structure for the office

  • Going through all the financials for the company and understanding the spending and where we can cut back

    • Working with all the vendors and researching new plans if possible

  • Redoing all the accounting for the company and reporting systems

  • Redoing the office so we can social distance

    • Ordering the supplies needed to ensure the safety of my staff when they came back to the office

  • Revising each employee’s employment package and job description

  • Writing a coronavirus policy

    • Implement the coronavirus policy

  • Revising the HR manual to make sure it was updated and to include a section on coronavirus

  • Ordering PPE supplies for the office

  • Working with a Branding Consultant to rebrand The Job Shop

    • Never thought I would be doing this after 22 years but after doing some research realized this needed to be done

  • Going through all our Social Media Accounts and promotion tools for The Job Shop and making sure I understood them and what we as a company needed to be doing to utilize these accounts and producing a Social Media plan

  • Redoing the website

  • Calling all the candidates registered with The Job Shop so we can understand our candidate pool

  • Many new tasks heading our way

While tackling my action plans, I have run across many FREE resources and previous business owners who have volunteered to help small business owners with all aspects of their business. There have been many zoom webinars, zoom meetings, roundtables, articles, sales presentations, emails, a lot of research, and when The Job Shop has been asked to participate, we are there! The pandemic has affected each of us differently but as a small business owner, we have always had to wear many hats and will always continue to wear many hats while our businesses are open. The main advice to remember is that there are other business owners that can show you the best hat to wear in the moment if you ask for help!

Looking forward to sharing more as a small business owner during these trying times.

I know all of us love the look of the fog when it rolls over the Golden Gate, but it is beautiful above the fog!

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