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A business owner and strategy consultant, John Tooher has his finger on the pulse of the business community in greater Philadelphia. John is the owner of HeadRoom, a small business accelerator based in Media and Wayne, Pennsylvania. Over 90 businesses use the HeadRoom office facilities to run and grow their business. John spends most of his time helping companies of all sizes to create strategic roadmaps for their business.
How is HeadRoom different from other coworking places?
- Not a coworking space – but a place for folks who want to have an office with a door.
- HeadRoom encourages an open door policy, but it’s optional, providing a series of offices and conference rooms.
- In light of COVID-19, people at HeadRoom can self-isolate themselves in their own offices.
What effect is COVID-19 having on small businesses?
- Certainly there have been some real challenges for retail businesses.
- It’s been pleasantly surprising how many companies were able to pivot – mostly by focusing their offerings on services that can be safely delivered online.
- An overall trend towards online, internet-based working has made it possible for business to keep the ball rolling – perhaps not performing at the same high levels, but surviving as a business.
- Until recently, businesses were generally able to get along, but for many of those businesses to survive, lock-down regulations need to be relaxed in June, with all systems go July 1.
- John’s own office space business – HeadRoom – has dropped by 50%.
- Happily, that drop has coincided with a big upswing in the amount of strategy work he’s been doing with clients.
How can a business roadmap help a business survive a COVID-19 economy?
- A roadmap is very important, especially in the current business environment, as that roadmap provides a “North Star” for the business.
- “If you have a plan, it’s easier to get somewhere than without one.”
- The business with the plan has a lot more potential opportunity.
What does a roadmap process look like for a business?
- “You’ve got to be totally honest with yourself.”
- The hardest part of strategic roadmapping is figuring out where the business is today. Look at everything.
- Don’t try to solve the problems – just write them down!
- Then, decide where the business should be going.
- Write down where the business is today, and work to explore what’s having the most impact.
- A situation analysis should be a full day’s work.
- Write down everything with an impact and rate them – based on the most likely items, and the most impactful.
- Then write statements that address on these items, with that list of statement of issues and opportunities becomes the strategic objectives.
- Then, assign dates for actioning the list, allowing for 12-24 months to complete the work.
As lock-downs are relaxed, what advice do you have for businesses as they prepare to reopen?
- “Have a plan.” Do think about it – don’t just open your doors and hope.
- Ask important questions about planning and timing: What am I going to do for the first month? What am I going to do for the first three months?
- Explain the business plan to customers, staff, vendors, etc. to ensure that everyone understands how the business will work to keep everyone safe.
- LINK: Lisa Van Ess episode
How has HeadRoom prepared to reopen and how has it shared those preparations with customers?
- HeadRoom has spent a lot of time and effort ensuring that it has sufficient cleaning supplies for its offices.
- The company has established social distancing and safety guidelines (for example, around when and where masks need to be worn).
- The infographic that HeadRoom produced and shared with its community has proven very effective.