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April 9, 2020 | 4-minute read (702 words)
Could a world-changing startup come out of the coronavirus pandemic? It’s not only possible, but it’s somewhat likely, said entrepreneur Mark Cuban during a recent interview with Yahoo Finance. We listened to the conversation to extract the tips most useful to small businesses that are navigating the coronavirus pandemic.
Tip 1: Communicate and Be Transparent
Cuban urges all businesses to be completely transparent with not only clients, but employees, customers, vendors and the rest of your network. “You’ve got to be cognizant of the reality these days that what you do as a company today is how you’ll be branded for the next decade, if not more,” he said. “How you treat your employees will define how your company is considered and whether people will do business with you for a long, long time.”
Small- and medium-sized businesses should be doing everything possible to keep employees apprised of the company's situation. To curb staff stress, communications should be frequent, he notes. If you must deliver bad news, work with the HR department to personally communicate with each employee.
In addition, solicit communication from staff members. “The best ideas can come from an employee,” he notes. “The people on the front lines who deal with your customers and employees are going to have a better handle on how everybody feels than the CEO. Communication and transparency are key. You can’t BS people. Be brutally honest and carry that over to your customers.”
Tip 2: Take Advantage of the Stimulus Bill
Cuban also offered his very honest read on the small business community right now. “Obviously, it’s brutal. There are issues for every company of every size, but small business always takes the brunt of it because they live month to month,” he said. “When you have a cataclysmic event like we’re going through right now, it’s very difficult to stay in business.”
He urges business owners to be aware that the stimulus bill includes a Payroll Protection Program. “What that does is for any small business with 500 or fewer employees, you can apply through your bank, and you can borrow enough to pay your payroll for up to three months for all employees who make $100,000 or less, plus utilities, rent and incremental expenses. If you commit to retaining all your employees as of today, then you don’t have to pay it back. It literally is the best stimulus bill ever for small businesses.”
Tip 3: Need Work? Some Businesses Are Thriving
Some small businesses are doing well during this period, Cuban notes, such as grocery brands and certain service providers. “If you’ve lost your job and you’re looking to replace it, look to those types of companies because there are some companies that are doing well and you want to try and go to them and see if you can work with them.”
Tip 4: Watch for Innovation Amid the Crisis
Cuban expects the US to come out of the crisis with more innovation than ever before. “The one thing about the United States of America that’s different than every other country on the planet is that we’re a country of entrepreneurs. We look to start businesses. When we talk about the American Dream, when we talk about rags-to-riches stories, it starts with an entrepreneur coming up with an idea and executing on that idea. We’re going to get to the other side of this. I’m positive of that.”
He suggests that five years from now, we’ll be able to look back “and see how many companies that started out of all this turned into world-changing companies.”
Tip 5: New Businesses Should Offer Ownership to Employees
To ensure that employees have a stake in the businesses where they’re working, entrepreneurs should give stock and ownership to every staff member. Those employees are taking risks, working long hours and contributing to the success of the firm, and should benefit from its success.
“I don’t care if you’re 16 years old or 60 years old starting a company, when you start that company and hire people, give equity to those employees,” Cuban advised.