National Small Business Week: Supporting Small Businesses through COVID-19 (Part III)

COVID-19 has significantly impacted companies of all sizes across the country, and none have perhaps been more shaken by the pandemic than America’s small businesses. According to the Main Street America organization’s Small Business Survey, about 37% of small businesses are at risk of shutting down within the next few months.

Continuing our series celebrating what would have been National Small Business Week [part one]: National Small Business Week: Supporting Small Businesses through COVID-19 [Part One]; part two: National Small Business Week: Supporting Small Businesses through COVID-19 [Part Two], today we hear from SOCi, the leading platform for “next-level” multi-location marketers. SOCi’s associate director of marketing, Olivia Starr, tells us how the localized marketing partner has jumped into action to support the local economy.

How are you supporting small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic?

In the early stages of the pandemic breaking, we made a commitment to help any company, even those that aren’t currently our clients, with their localized marketing. We’re doing this at no cose simply because it’s the right thing to do. Our CEO said it best: “As a leader in this space, we feel a responsibility to help any franchise or multi-location brand do everything it can do to keep up the local economy.”

We’re also offering bi-weekly webinars focused on COVID-related issues, we're doing 2x weekly blog content that has been dedicated to COVID, and we just launched a library of assets for our customers to help jumpstart a crisis communication strategy.

What advice would you give to the industry about how to support customers right now?

Communications need to be empathetic during this time – for both internal and external, social content needs to be helpful and on-brand. Rethink your daily operations to see if anything can be done digitally, and don't neglect your engagement and reviews. The world has gone digital so your strategy needs to align to this behavior – update all local listings and ensure you're utilizing all features provided by the top search and social sites to engage with consumers.

Are there any fun things your company is doing to maintain company culture working remotely?

As a company, we made it a huge priority in-quarter to increase the surprise and delight for our team. With everyone working remotely, we tried to get creative with different ways to motivate and incentivize our team. We're bringing the excitement, and marketing has out rolled a few internal contests to help keep the team motivated as we're all working remotely.

SOCi hosted a Bingo night for the entire company. We are hosting monthly digital lunch and learns with key SOCi execs, and outside thought leaders to continually help our team learn and grow - plus UberEats on us. We have weekly coffee check-ins - every Friday, and we have hosted a few Zoom team happy hours. It's extremely important for our marketing team to remain connected and find different ways of collaborating (digitally) to help keep the morale high.


National Small Business Week: Supporting Small Businesses through COVID-19 (Part II)

COVID-19 has significantly impacted companies of all sizes across the country, and none have perhaps been more shaken by the pandemic than America’s small businesses. According to the Main Street America organization’s Small Business Survey, about 37% of small businesses are at risk of shutting down within the next few months.

Continuing our series celebrating what would have been National Small Business Week [see part one here: National Small Business Week: Supporting Small Businesses through COVID-19 [Part One], today we hear from Kangaroo, the leader in affordable, easy-to-use home security products. Bob Stohrer, Kangaroo’s Chief Marketing Officer, shares how the company is handling COVID-19 as a resource for many of the small businesses that have had to close their doors at least temporarily due to the current crisis.

How are you supporting small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic?

As a NYC-based start-up, we witnessed the early and profound impact of COVID-19 as small businesses went dark all around us. While our DIY security solutions were designed for homes, we knew they could also be very useful and effective for small businesses. We quickly stood up a “free use and return” offer directed at small businesses, allowing them to safeguard their storefronts at no cost and with no long-term obligation.

What advice would you give to the industry about how to support customers right now?

As a marketer, COVID-19 effectively unfragmented our country and immediately put most everyone on the same page in terms of concerns, needs, and behaviors. In just months, it seemed as though we had turned back the clock by decades to a time when people were oriented around a handful of issues, institutions, and media outlets. The opportunity and mandate right now is to do things fit into this shared narrative, and where feasible to pivot your focus, marketing, and activities accordingly. It’s also a good reminder that creativity loves constraints and not to give up realizing new applications of your business and people.

Are there any fun things your company is doing to maintain company culture working remotely?

A member of our team instituted Friday Happy-Video Hour, which has been a fun way to exhale and stay connected to colleagues outside of the day-to-day pressures of work and what’s going on around us. As a company that operates across three countries, we’re also doing all-company meetings once a week just to ensure everyone is pacing with the business and has a good handle on how COVID-19 is influencing our actions. While not the most innovative and fun thing, it has kept the team informed and inspired.


National Small Business Week: Supporting Small Businesses through COVID-19 (Part I)

COVID-19 has significantly impacted companies of all sizes across the country, and none have perhaps been more shaken by the pandemic than America’s small businesses. According to the Main Street America organization’s Small Business Survey, about 37% of small businesses are at risk of shutting down within the next few months.

In celebration of what would have been National Small Business Week, we are spotlighting three clients that work closely with small businesses. Up today is MakeSpace, a full-service storage company that is redefining the storage experience as we know it by creating storage without the struggle – picking up, hauling, and storing your stuff, then delivering it back to you.

How are you supporting small businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

We are offering free storage to small businesses affected by COVID-19. This pandemic has unfortunately forced many businesses to close down, and we know that some extra flexibility may help them re-open successfully when this is all over. For a limited time, small business owners can bring their items to one of our facilities for three free months of storage.

What advice would you give to the industry about how to support your customers?

While customers are spending more conservatively, they’re also looking for new products to fit their radically altered lifestyles. It’s important to offer your service or product in the safest and most convenient way possible. We updated our policies to offer no-contact appointments, making it more secure for our teams to serve customers while maintaining social distance. Businesses need to evaluate their entire customer experience to accommodate the new reality.

What has MakeSpace been doing to maintain company culture working remotely?

A big part of building a positive (work)space is the frequent gatherings, events, and traditions that make the office feel more like a community. But it can be challenging to preserve workplace culture when everyone is working remotely. In an initiative led by Office Manager Laura Iskaros, VP of People Megan Lyons, and the MakeSpace Culture Committee, we’re using Slack, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and other online tools to preserve culture while maintaining social distance.

  • Happy Hour Hangouts from Home → a daily 5-6pm happy hour open to all employees to have a beer, show off their homes/children/pets, and just socialize and wind down after a day of work.

  • Pet Parade → weekly on Tuesdays, a Google hangout open to all pet owners and pet lovers to show off their fur friends!

  • Remote #Brew-Crew → took a MakeSpace culture staple and made it remote! Rather than going out for a coffee with members from different teams, this time you make yourself a coffee at home and have a video chat with them. Small groups of five, twice a week. It’s a fun and easy way to be social from home.

  • Remote QOTD → using a free Web Whiteboard service, we ask a daily QOTD ranging from “What album do you recommend for WFH isolation?” to “What’s the best meal you’ve made since working remotely?” and everything in between!

  • Simple Habit partnership → partnered with Simple Habits for a 45-day unlimited access to Simple Habit’s wellness professionals, guided meditations, therapy, coaching, motivational talks and much more.


5 Keys to a Successful Business Partnership

Let’s face it: partnerships are hard. Often, two alpha leaders are combined, who now have to agree on any number of decisions on a daily basis. The potential for challenges is a given, but even scarier is the potential for stalemates or disputes that can stifle your business.

On the positive side, a successful partnership can bring together two talents that are stronger together than they are individually. I’m fortunate enough to be involved in the latter, and am running a business with the best possible partner I could have ever asked for. While I realize everyone isn’t as lucky, we have learned over the course of our relationship what keeps things sailing smoothly, no matter the waters your startup encounters.

SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS

First, you need to start off with clear expectations and a deep understanding of what each of you needs to be happy. Just as you would when properly vetting a new client in a professional service business, you need to have multiple conversations with your potential partner about why you are doing this. For example, what are each of you trying to achieve? What scares each of you the most?

Having a deep understanding of your partners’ motivations, goals and hesitations helps you to understand if there is really a match. When making the decision as to whether or not to launch our public relations agency, my partner and I spent nearly six months having these conversations before we felt comfortable pulling the trigger.

CREATE AN OPERATING AGREEMENT

Only after getting to this point should you begin the expensive and time consuming process of putting together an operating agreement. Your operating agreement is the legally binding agreement that gets everything down in writing and attempts to minimize the chance of anything being open to interpretation. This gets uncomfortable, as you have to plan for the worst, discuss compensation, equity and recourse in the event of breach of contract. Transparency, honesty, trust and a great lawyer is the only way to get this done effectively.

Throughout this process and having worked together previously, my partner and I knew what we each brought to the table and what really motivated us individually. We clearly understood who was going to take ownership of account service, finance, marketing, business development and human resources. We made the decision to trust each other completely and let each other take the lead in our respective departments. This was critical to avoiding delayed decision-making and helped fuel our growth.

COMMUNICATE OPENLY AND EFFECTIVELY

Within our first few weeks of operation, we realized we got married, whether we liked it or not. And just as with our real spouses, we had to invest time and energy into this new relationship. We worked together more than 8 hours a day, but weekly, made a point to remove ourselves from the daily grind and sit down to see how the stress of the new business was affecting us.

We stayed open about our fears and always strived to be each other’s support system. As a good friend of mine once said, “If your partner asks for 50, give ‘em 60.” This offhand comment applies to so much more than money, and truly became the approach we took with our partnership.

EMBRACE DIFFERENT WORKING STYLES

Most importantly, you must respect your partners individual working styles and personal needs. I’m a father of two young girls and want to spend as much time with them as I can. This means I do my best to be home before dinner each night to get in some play time and help get them ready for bed. While this cuts my days shorter, I’m oftentimes hopping back online at night to get ahead for the next day.

My partner, on the other hand, loves to get in early and shut down once she gets home. We’ve learned this is what keeps us both balanced. It’s worked so well for us, we’ve taken this approach to our staff. Get your work done, and keep clients happy, but also take the time you need to keep your personal life firing on all cylinders.

Keep company growth front of mind

Lastly, most problems can be solved if you run a fiscally smart business and never give up your growth mindset. A business that has healthy margins and is growing allows for investments in tools, support and staff that makes everyone’s life easier. A business that is barely scraping by adds exponential levels of stress that affects everything. From employee morale to recruitment, it all takes a hit.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to humanity, generosity and a true desire to keep the other member of your partnership happy. When you get these things right, partnerships can eliminate the isolation that entrepreneurship inevitably brings and has the potential to accelerate the growth and value of your business beyond what you each could have achieved individually.

This article was originally published on StartupNation.


Bruno Solari Published on Out.com

Solari reviews the Spanish Nextfix drama as the show explores the challenges of coming out for different religious and socio-economic backgrounds

Off the back of National Coming Out Day, team member Bruno Solari recently dug in to the issues and challenges being a gay minority. The show is heavy and Solari discusses his own challenges and how they relate to Netflix’s latest drama.

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Ménage à trois, murder, drug addiction, and HIV barely scratch the surface on the intense themes explored in Elite, Netflix’s latest sleeper hit. The Spanish soap opera, one of the streaming service’s first, bears unexpected nostalgia for those of us who found it hard to come to terms with our own sexuality. I began watching this show expecting your typical young adult high school drama, but little did I know there would be so many steamy gay storylines that left me sweating. Think: Gossip Girl crossed over with Big Little Lies. This sexy, binge-worthy series follows the lives of three, low-income students who receive a scholarship to La Encina, a top preparatory school attended by Spain’s elite.

To read the full piece from on Out.com, please check it out here.


Featured on Thrive Global

I think most of the world’s problems can be resolved by 3 things — empathy, effort and education. If we as a people focus on living the 3 E’s and instilling them in our children — the world would be a much better place.

Greg Mondshein, cofounder and managing partner, SourceCode Communications

Managing Partner Greg Mondshein recently spoke with Yitzi Weiner about his journey, lessons learned and some interesting tidbits about his philosophy and approach.

Check out the full piece here!


Featured on Inc.com

More Than Just Money: Employee Incentives Drive Productivity and Improve Retention

Managing Partner Greg Mondshein spoke with Inc about the employee incentive strategies that SourceCode uses to drive productivity and increase retention.

Check out the full piece here!


Mondshein Speaks on New Business

7 Signs You’re Chasing the Wrong Business

I’ve spent my career toeing the line between client service and business development, and what I’ve learned along the way is that building the client portfolio of your dreams, more often than not, begins with the pitch. Landing the wrong account is a short-term victory that leads to a long-term headache. Not every dollar needs to be chased, and decisions made in the pitch—not listening to prospects’ subtle (and not so subtle) clues—can impact everything from employee satisfaction to profitability. Before you dig into that next RFP, here are a few key indications that you’re chasing the wrong account.

To read the full piece from SourceCode's Managing Director Greg Mondshein, please visit Small Biz Daily here.


Becky Honeyman Speaks to The Observer About Crisis

 

Microsoft’s ICE Issues Show Yet Again That It Doesn’t Respond Well to Crisis

The Observer spoke with Managing Partner Becky Honeyman about Microsoft's employees revolting over the company's contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). As the  agency’s “zero tolerance policy” gets heavily criticized worldwide, the workers  are demanding that Microsoft cancel its contracts with ICE and enact a clear policy that it will not work with clients who violate international human rights law.

https://observer.com/2018/06/microsofts-ice-issues-crisis-response/


SourceCode's Becky Honeyman Featured in PR Daily

 

Why PR pros should focus on audience emotions

Managing Partner Becky Honeyman spoke with PR Daily about knowledge that PR pros only recently uncovered from marketing and advertising creatives.

“That is, if you can make someone ‘feel’ something, you will increase the response rate or engagement level tenfold,” Honeyman says. “It's fundamental for brands today to build relationships with their audiences. They can only do that by communicating consistently and authentically on subjects that are genuinely meaningful to them."

Check out the full piece here!