My Grandfather Was A Farmer And Taught Me This Important Business Lesson: When Business Is Down, Retool.
Posted by: Umesh Vaidyamath | Date: July 23, 2020
When I was growing up in India, my grandfather was a farmer and his work on the farm, indeed the farm’s success depended on rain. When rain was plentiful, the crops were abundant, the farm was busy and the family did well. But one season, the rain didn’t come. I was young when this happened, but I remember asking my grandfather, “what will you do now that the rain didn’t come?” My grandfather’s answer has stayed with me ever since.
He explained to me that when the rain doesn’t come and the crops don’t grow, he takes that down time to focus on other tasks. He fixes the house and the barn, sharpens his tools, cleans and tidies, and takes time to think about how to make the farm – his business – that much better. During a bad season for crops, my grandfather didn’t panic – he instead used his time to tackle projects that would make next season easier and more productive.
There have been 17 noteworthy recessions throughout U.S. history. The most famous of these was the Great Depression which lasted from 1929 until 1938 and was the biggest economic crisis in U.S. history. Then there was the Great Recession which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009 and was triggered by the subprime mortgage crisis.
And now we’re experiencing another economic downturn. After expanding for a record 126 months, the coronavirus pandemic has put an end to the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. At the beginning of 2020, millions of Americans locked down and businesses ceased operations, all in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19.
As borders closed and travel all but stopped in the name of public safety, immigration came to a halt as well. Consulates closed, business travel was cancelled and one presidential executive order and proclamation after another hampered immigration even further. This has obviously left immigration law firms worried and wondering – what to do next?
An INSZoom client recently reached out to me and expressed their worry about how slow business has been. The conversation I had with that client made me think back to what my grandfather told me – use this slow time to assess your current processes, identify what can be improved, and make your firm even better for when things pick back up.
Because they will.
What to do during an economic downturn
The Economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. Some many businesses have had to significantly scale back their operations while others have been forced to close entirely. You might feel that the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown your firm into chaos too, but here’s the thing – those firms that take action right now will better survive this recession.
So what to do? Use this opportunity to get ahead of your competition and prepare for the future. Push forward and explore new ideas that will help you come out on top after the quarantine has lifted. Here are some steps you can take to get ahead during this economic downturn:
List potential challenge and inventory your processes
Start by creating a list of challenges your business might face post-pandemic, and make sure to consider different scenarios, even the most absurd. A few extreme examples might be the end of business travel, universal adoption of “work from home” culture, massively increased outsourcing and more. These examples may be over the top, but think about how the way you run your firm today would look in those made up future realities.
Would your firm survive? Would you be able to make small changes to accommodate these new realities or would you have to scrap the whole thing and start from scratch? Take this time to plan for every scenario, even the worst case scenario, and analyze your processes accordingly. From there, back into a more realistic future state and then determine what changes are possible to your firm in order to adapt.
Upgrade your technology
It’s possible that most – if not all – your staff is currently working from home. Now is the time to ensure that communication will remain as efficient as possible. Assess every piece of software and digital tool your team relies on to get work done. Do you use Google Docs for collaboration? Do you rely on Asana or Trello for project management? Do you use Dropbox for file sharing?
Ask your team for their opinions and determine if your current technology is meeting expectations. If not, time to upgrade. Now is the perfect time to implement, experiment with, and master a new piece of technology.
Review and optimize your website
So often, we pay thousands of dollars to have our website carefully designed and then we ignore it for years. There is a chance your website is working against you. A well-designed – and frequently updated – website will help you generate more leads. Take this time to review your website content and determine that it is readable, easy to navigate, and optimized with the correct keywords and links.
As your content grows stale, your website will rank lower and lower in search engine results. Seek out a marketing professional if you need help auditing and optimizing your website. A little time and help from a professional can all but guarantee that your website content will engage customers and generate new leads.
Invest in people
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people are important to business. The customers, of course, but also the people who make businesses run. Invest both time and, if possible, money into improving your team and the way they work.
Create mentor-ship opportunities that encourage remote workers to interact. Organize training sessions to help employees learn new skills. Allow employees to sign up for virtual conferences to sharpen their skills and make connections. All this effort will support employees as they adjust to the new work-from-home culture. It will strengthen and develop new skills and prepare both your employees and business for the post-pandemic future.
Repetition slows down businesses – you need to automate to remain competitive. Automation lets you avoid human error while saving time in execution. Survey your team and identify any tasks that are repetitive and maybe even use this time to become familiar with artificial intelligence and machine learning. Because with the right machine learning tools, you can achieve maximum efficiency and turbocharge your business.
Here’s how INSZoom can help you retool.
I founded INSZoom in 1999 and so I’ve actually taken the company through two economic downturns (2000 and 2008). Not only has INSZoom survived and thrived during those recessions, we’ve seen hundreds of law firm clients do the same.
Here are two ways you can leverage INSZoom to help you retool during this downturn to come out stronger on the other side.
Consider Zoomee to automate legal processes at your immigration law firm.
Zoomee is a powerful process automation bot that works with INSZoom to automate the immigration process. As the immigration industry’s very first virtual assistant, Zoomee reads, parses, and works with documents, handles bulk case creation, and automatically updates corresponding cases in the INSZoom platform.
Because Zoomee is powered by artificial intelligence, it is constantly learning. The more tasks Zoomee completes, the more it learns your processes and preferences, and the more efficient it becomes.
By using Zoomee to create applications, you can be certain no mistakes are made. Zoommee verifies crucial data, flags mistakes, and notes when fields are missing. Imagine the alternative, particularly in a high-volume situation: you or your staff are creating dozens if not hundreds of H-1B registrations. You could rely on copy and paste or simply type the information over and over again. But entering the wrong information can be an H-1B death sentence. Automation and artificial intelligence eliminates these errors.
Improve your INSZoom skills
Well-trained staff who know how to use software without making mistakes help organizations run more smoothly. INSZoom’s own certification program brings tremendous value to lawyers, paralegals, and clients. That’s why we launched the INSZoom Academy, which is designed to address day-to-day operations of platform and help you and your staff become certified, trained experts at it. An INSZoom certification shows an objective level of proficiency with and knowledge of the platform. Certification creates built-in confidence in the user’s skill level and ultimately their success at the firm.
We’ll get through this together
Having gone through two economic downturns and watch so many of our clients do the same, I’m here to tell you that it’ll be okay. While you may feel nervous about the current state of immigration and where it might go, it’s important that you take a moment to consider your options. You can panic, or you can take this time to assess and improve your business. Which one will you choose?
- Interested in learning about the new INSZoom certification?
Check out the INSZoom Certification page for more information, chat with us on our website, or reach out to your INSZoom representative!