Many small businesses across Canada have had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes having everyone work from home. If you’re new to managing a team of remote workers, here are some tips and guidelines to keep in mind.
How to manage a remote team
Be flexible and understanding. Many entrepreneurs and employees alike have been thrust into the work-from-home life in this unprecedented time, and are doing their best to manage their work responsibilities while managing family and their own mental health. Of course, your employee should be as considerate of their deadlines and schedules as in a traditional office. But it’s important to remember that most people are adjusting to this new way of working, while at home potentially with other family members who have their own schedules and needs too. You may have to be extra flexible to account for this, and cut your team a little more slack than normal.
Check in on a regular basis. Whether it’s weekly group chats or one-on-one check-ins, make sure you talk to each of your employees on a regular basis to see how they’re doing. They may need an extra day to complete a project, or may be in need of community resources to help them. Don’t pressure them to talk, but make sure they know your virtual door is always open.
But don’t jam-pack the days with meetings. Back-to-back meetings are often distracting even in a regular office environment, let alone a working from home during a pandemic environment. It’s important to make sure that everyone is kept up to date and knows what’s going on, but it might be a good idea to scale back the amount of meetings you have, to ensure nobody gets overwhelmed or falls behind. Instead, try quicker messaging options like Slack.
Trust in your team. A huge part of running a virtual office is trusting that your team is working. You can’t stroll by and chat with them like in a traditional office. Of course, you should be monitoring their overall progress and how they get there, but don’t make checking their social media and constantly asking for updates a regular part of your day. Many of us have seen reduced productivity during the pandemic, so take that into consideration as well.
Do you have insurance for your small business? If not, we strongly recommend that you do. After all, you don’t want all your hard work to be ruined by fire, theft, or other types of risk.
So what type of insurance does your small business need? Here are three basic kinds of insurance that we believe every business needs to have:
Fire Insurance — This covers for any damage caused by fires. You should also look at coverage for storms, smoke damage, floods or any other disasters.
Theft Insurance/Burglary Protection — No matter what type of business it is that you run, you need to cover yourself from theft.
Liability Insurance — Should be obtained to cover your business for any type of injury sustained by anyone while on your premises.
Once you’ve got those bases covered, you may want to investigate other types of insurance for companies in more specific industries or situations. Review these carefully, and identify which could possibly be a concern for your business:
General Liability Insurance — Covers your business’ assets if your company is sued due to injury or property damage.
Professional Liability Insurance — Important for those providing a service like consulting or coaching.
Product Liability Coverage — Important if you’re starting a food-related business.
Health Insurance — May be necessary if you’re not covered by a spouse’s plan.
Surety Insurance — Provides surety companies with 100% reinsurance capacity.
Fidelity Insurance — Protects from loss of securities, money or inventory resulting from crime.
Dishonesty Insurance — This will cover thefts that might occur by employees of your business. You should discuss insurance requirements for your business with a qualified and experienced insurance agent.
Crime Insurance — Covers money losses due to counterfeit money orders or paper currency, credit card fraud, forgery or employee breach of trust.
Business Interruption or Loss of Income Insurance — Protects you from any losses due to a temporary interruption or shutdown of the business.
Business Travel Insurance — Can cover medical expenses during travel, trip interruption/after departure insurance, flight and travel accident insurance, as well as baggage and personal effects insurance.
Business Premises Insurance — Covers for damage from a variety of causes to your business premises.
Credit Insurance/Accounts Receivable Insurance — Protects against the non-payment of outstanding accounts receivable balances, and losses from currency inconvertibility or transfer risk.
Business-use Vehicle Insurance — Covers motor vehicle accidents involving any company vehicles.
Disability or Accident and Sickness Insurance — Covers disability, accidents or sicknesses of company employees or owners.
Workers’ Compensation — Required if you have employees or contracted workers.
Key Person Insurance — Required if there’s a key person or people within your business. The insurance is used to help cover the replacement of knowledge and expertise of the key person/people in the event of death. This allows the company to keep running and avoid dissolution.
Partnership Insurance — Required in the case of a partnership to protect partners from the demise of another partner.
Identity Theft — In order to protect yourself and your business from identity theft.
E-commerce Fraud — Necessary for companies that do business online. Includes protection over spammers, websites being hacked and online service functionality.
With these types of business insurance, you can rest easier knowing that you’ll be protected!
It’s no surprise that being an entrepreneur means opening yourself up to risk and uncertainty – you come up with a great small business idea, spend time and money planning and then hang your shingle. Every day is different and, most often, challenging. But how much risk or uncertainty can you handle? How do you manage it?
What entrepreneurs surrender
We’re entrepreneurs too, so we’re familiar with the allure of starting your own business: Doing what you love and setting your own rules. However, we also know that starting your own business means giving up the security of set working hours, a steady paycheque and a relative amount of job security.
When starting your own business, you may use some of your own money to get going. You may not have an income for several months as you build momentum. These factors are the basic items of risk and uncertainty you can face in small business. There’s also the potential for a lack of structure, order and organization. Not to mention the small amount of worry that accompanies any new venture.
Don’t lose heart! Yes, it’s true that small business owners must be able to handle risk and uncertainty, but this skill is something that can be learned.
How entrepreneurs can manage risk and uncertainty
Here are a few tips to help you better handle the risks and uncertainties of entrepreneurship:
Learn creative ways to manage difficult times. No marketing budget? Try free avenues like social media and word-of-mouth.
Change your perspective. Can an unpredictable business situation lend itself to innovation or a great new invention?
Surround yourself with a strong support network that includes both trusted professional contacts and loved ones.
Make time for yourself. We know it can be difficult to turn off the worried part of your brain and spend an hour walking in the park, but trust us – a clear head is much better suited to evaluating risk!
Practice adaptability. Keep track of what’s happening in your business environment and you’ll be better prepared to anticipate or react to uncertain times.
Know your business inside and out. Understanding what your business is all about and what is best for it will help you take more manageable risks.
Don’t do anything on impulse. Some clichés are also just true, like the one that goes, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Sleep on it, plan it out on paper or speak with trusted advisors before jumping in.
Have a Plan B. And a Plan C too. What will you do if your new line of wedding invitations aren’t as warmly received as you’d hoped? Always have backup plans for a new product or service.