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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.

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