How to Protect Your Business During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Unless you live under a rock, you know the Coronavirus is the only thing people can talk about these days. If you've visited a store, you've likely found that there is no soap, hand sanitizer or toilet paper to be found. You can see the effects of this outbreak and the reaction it is causing to the general public all around you. You may be asking yourself, how you do protect your health while also protecting your business to make sure you can continue to operate, generate cash flow and pay your employees. While I am no medical professional and you won't find any medical advice here, I will try to help you work through some ways to keep your business safe during this outbreak and any future outbreaks.
1. Be proactive. Sign up for a virtual meting app now. Understand they are all being stressed to capacity, so find one that meets your needs and get accustom to it now so you can offer seamless contact with your clients. If you are a in person commerce based business, figure out if you can ship your goods and or provide some sort of local delivery service. Add extra incentives for your clients if they choose to continue to do business with you. Free add ons or some other discount. Both of these will go a long way to helping soothe client and partner relations.
2. Be Employee Friendly. The hope is that you can continue to work in your office and have business as usual. If you cannot, modify your employment agreement with a short term addendum allowing work from home, increased sick leave or time off, and work load restructuring. Make sure you are clear about the compensation terms and the benefits that may change. For instance, if the employee cannot come to work because of quarantine, will you continue to pay them, are their health benefits secure, will their job be waiting for them when they return. These are all factors weighing heavily on the American workforce right now and you can build good will among employees if you can offer some small gestures to assist them.
3. Be Prepared. You are the heart of your business. You know everything and everyone, but what happens if you get sick. Have a temporary succession plan in place where a certain person or people know how to step in and fill your shoes in the short term. Make sure you are able to implement the policy quickly and have it be time limited. This is no time for a takeover, but you do want to ensure there is a continuity of business. This includes any contact you have with your Board of Directors. Make sure they have a succession plan so you can have decisions made even if there are board members who cannot participate. Have proxy votes in place if necessary and arrange for board meetings via phone or meeting app.
4. Be Concerned. While this may not require hysteria, you want to make sure you are concerned enough to manage others expectations. You may not belle any of the hype, but you have to project to your clients, partners and employees that you are taking this seriously and respect their fear of what is going on around them. This is always a sign of a good leader and you want to make sure people trust you to move forward during and after the crisis is over.
5. Be Ready for the Future. While it may be too late to change or amend any supplier or customer contracts, although it never hurts to try, you also want to add provisions to your contracts in the future for Acts of Good. These are material adverse conditions clauses where acs of god, including viral outbreaks do not alter or change the contract. These clauses can be specific or broad and ensure that the show will go on despite the mass hysteria or quarantine. You can shift burdens to one side or the other if the contract is breached or if it is impossible to continue. I would imagine no one would consent to the changes today, but this is a good forward looking change to make to protect your self in the future.
These tips are not limited to this outbreak, they are good rules of thumb for any crisis. If you need assistance setting up any of these new contracts or provisions, feel free to contact Ingram Law Firm, we are open for business and ready to take your call via Zoom, let's limit contact and get things done.