Don't Sit Idly By

Since Donald Trump’s election in November, both business owners and the broader market have largely expressed confidence in the United States’ economic future. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up nearly 20% and while hiring has missed expectations, wages continue to rise.

But six months on, business owners -- and especially those who own small businesses -- are staring down uncertainty once again. The Republicans’ first crack at repealing Obamacare stalled and it’s unclear what or when the next iteration will be. The Trump administration has released a brief summary of their intended tax reforms, but it’ll be a while before anyone knows whether any of it will come to fruition.

That leaves businesses in the lurch on a range of important functions from hiring and benefits to product/service development. We shouldn’t sit idly as we wait and see where policy will take us, so all business owners should use this opportunity of government stasis to engage in three actionable, timely exercises.

Review Who You Are

Once a year you should sit down with your leadership and key employees to revisit your mission and its execution. Surely something has changed since you last paid attention to your business’s overall identity, whether it’s market demand, customer attitudes, or your competition. Every business has to tweak and adapt to stay relevant, and if they don’t, they’ll pay the price later on.

It can be overwhelming to engage in this sort of holistic self-reflection when your company has a million things going on, so now is a great time to do it. Chances are you’ll be a bit busier later on in the year when changes to healthcare and taxes come through and you’re working on your core business. You’ll also be perfectly primed to do it again next year after those policies have come to pass.

Start by talking to your principals informally. Just ask how things are going and listen to their feedback. Once you have a sense of whether things are just right or need to change drastically, you can start to lead the necessary adjustments. And since you’re already talking to your employees...

Take a Look at Your Team

After reviewing your company’s vision and how you go about realizing it, take this opportunity to think about who’s involved. Are you missing a critical skill in the office, on the floor, or in the field? And to get that skill, should you develop a current employee, hire someone new, or replace someone?

You know that your business depends on its people, so it’s important to make sure that you’re getting the most out of them -- and that they’re getting the most out of the company. Great communication between leadership and employees pays off for everyone and improves job satisfaction. This is a solid chance to review your team so you can go into whatever the rest of the year brings as efficient and effective as possible.  

Show Your Employees You Care

You aren’t the only one dealing with uncertainty. Employees also worry about the ramifications of these broad policy issues. They just process the situation a little differently and think in terms of their own 24-hour, 365-day a year small business -- their family.

It’s never a bad time to boost company morale, but now is a great time. Throw together a simple, fun event for employees and their families. Start a monthly night out where the first round is on you. Call each and every employee into your office one by one to compliment them on something they’ve been doing well and reiterate that you’re thrilled they’re working with you.

You’ll improve your relationship with employees as you allay some of their fears, and that’s good for both parties during a tumultuous time. When the dust settles on healthcare and tax reform, you’ll be ready with a solidly-defined company, the right people, and the motivation to succeed no matter what the government gives us.

Rodney Steele