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10 Critical keys to business survival right now

From the stunning impact of the coronavirus to the increasingly rigorous ESG expectations placed on every company to the exceptional level of performance demanded of leaders 24/7/365, the best CEOs are shifting the way they and their teams approach these daunting problems.

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“The shocks to the system that companies are facing today are forcing a new kind of survivalist thinking in CEOs,” says Stephen Miles, CEO of The Miles Group/TMG. “From the stunning impact of the coronavirus to the increasingly rigorous ESG expectations placed on every company to the exceptional level of performance demanded of leaders 24/7/365, the best CEOs are shifting the way they and their teams approach these daunting problems.”

In his new podcast, 10 Critical Keys to Business Survival,” Miles walks through what he has identified as the top factors CEOs must focus on to lead their companies through the most challenging business climate in more than a decade.

“CEOs aren’t just in the money-making business – they are in the stakeholder business, whether they know it or not,” says Miles. “How they respond to external, outlier events like COVID-19 is of course critical to survival, but just as important is their ongoing ability to exist in the new transparency of the social economy.”

10 Critical Keys to Business Survival

1. Handling “social emotional events.” 

“CEOs have to be absolutely aware of the issues important to the influencers in their space – whether it’s LGBTQ issues or environmental waste or other areas of passion to customers, employees, investors, and the public at large.”

2. Avoiding the dangers of success with a growth mindset

“Being a know-it-all company sucks the life out of high performance. How can you create paranoia in a healthy sense where you continuously want to grow and learn?”

3. Prioritizing investment in a business’s digital future.

“Getting a company to prioritize digitization is not like Star Trek where a CEO can just ‘Make it so.’ The CEO must make this imperative part of their drumbeat from the top so that it gets the attention and investment required.”

4. Training the company, and the CEO, as an Olympic athlete.

“Every day, every minute, you are looking at the organization and trying to make it better: better processes, better people, better innovation, better technology, better approaches, better customer interface. And the CEO job itself is more and more aging on your body, day in and day out – leaders have to think about their own fitness levels much more to withstand it.”

5. Getting ahead of ESG “fails”.

“The ESG – environmental, social, and governance – agenda for many CEOs has gone from altruism to ‘license to operate.’ ESG is the new normal. In the social world that we live in now, you can lose your profit pool and lose your license to operate because you are not taking ESG seriously.”

6. Adapting to major supply chain disruption.

“The disruption of the globally synchronized supply chain – set off by the trade war but now given a powerful blow by the coronavirus shutdowns – is forcing a new thinking around bringing back local sourcing and adding that cost back into the system.”

7. Bracing for stronger regulatory action.

“Regulators around the world are feeling emboldened – supported by a growing populist movement and an increased disdain for the corporation. For CEOs, this means engage, engage, engage – understand your counterparty’s perspective.”

8. Building competitive muscle as growth gets harder. 

“All the cost-cutting since 2008 has resulted in the fact that there’s not much left to do in many companies on the bottom line. So businesses now have to focus on the top line – and that’s much harder. CEOs need to take their teams from their great cost-cutting capabilities to build their ability around innovation and go-to-market and grabbing market share.”

9. Preparing for major economic shift.

“All the market volatility right now and the heavy global impact of coronavirus on multiple industries across all regions means that CEOs must quickly determine how they respond and lead in this climate. The uncertainty around it all demands that leaders absorb a lot of this, prepare, and make decisions that keep the company fit and healthy.” 

10. Shifting from linear leadership to managing to an outcome.

“Companies have turned from linear and vertical to horizontal and matrixed, and it’s really about managing to an outcome. You look at the playing field. Who’s on it? Who are my peers? Who do I need to build relationships with? Who do I need to seek and take advice from? Who do I need to ask for help from? That whole constellation of activities horizontally allows you to be effective and deliver an outcome. Muscling something over the line in a linear, vertical way is really not working very well for many people. They need to learn this horizontal toolkit.”

Strategies

Financial tips to help prepare for the unexpected

Over the past year, most people have noticed how truly unpredictable life can be. While it’s impossible to predict what the next few months have in store, practicing a few fundamental financial skills can help you prepare for whatever comes next.

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Over the past year, most people have noticed how truly unpredictable life can be. While it’s impossible to predict what the next few months have in store, practicing a few fundamental financial skills can help you prepare for whatever comes next.

“According to a survey by Bank of America, 42% of (people) say their top financial goal over the next three months is to increase their savings,” said April Schneider, head of consumer and small business products at Bank of America. “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of building a safety net. Whether you’re looking to improve your current financial habits or starting from scratch, the most important thing is to make a plan that fits your needs and to stick with it.”

Consider these tips from Schneider:

Track your expenses. Review your expenses, big and small, and separate them into categories like groceries, transportation, utilities and entertainment. Then total the amounts in each category to get a better picture of your monthly expenses. Knowing how much you spend each month is the first step toward finding money to save.

Make a plan and set a budget. Categorize your expenses into wants versus needs. Groceries, rent and mortgage payments are examples of needs while streaming services are a want. Compare your expenses against your total household income to figure out if you have money left over to save or if you can find money to save by reducing your spending on nonessentials. For example, keep an eye out for phantom charges – or reoccurring payments – you may no longer need and redirect that money into savings.

“If you’re already saving, that’s great,” Schneider said. “Review your behaviors and see if there’s room for improvement. It’s also not too late if you haven’t begun saving – everyone has to start somewhere.”

Also keep in mind your budget is meant to adapt with your circumstances, so make sure you’re updating your budget as your life changes.

Make savings automatic. Saving can fit seamlessly into your everyday life when you set up automatic transfers from a checking to a savings account. Saving automatically helps prepare you for the future without adding to your to-do list. You can start small by automatically transferring a few dollars each week.

Build an emergency fund. Take a look at your current expenses versus total income to identify any extra wiggle room where you can save. Next put your emergency savings in a separate, but accessible, account to avoid temptation and accidental overspending.

“When building an emergency fund, I recommend saving enough money to cover 3-6 months of expenses,” Schneider said. “Contributing to an emergency fund keeps saving a priority and ensures you have financial flexibility should the unexpected occur.”

Use spending tools for savvy savings. Being a better saver means becoming a smarter spender. While looking for deals and price shopping can be helpful, there are times when it’s better to spend a little more for quality. For example, buying a more costly refrigerator may pay off in the long run compared to buying a cheaper option that could break down after a few months.

Another way to be a smarter spender is by earning rewards on your everyday purchases. Whether you’ve seen your costs shift from in-person to delivery services, using a card that adapts and rewards your spending can be a valuable asset.

While you may not know what the future holds, planning and actively taking steps can help you feel more secure and prepared for whatever it brings.

Find more tips at bettermoneyhabits.com.

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Strategies

5 Ways to save big on everyday essentials

People are concerned about the economic impact the pandemic will have on their lives. These economic concerns are leading shoppers to seek out more ways to save. With the convenience and flexibility online shopping provides, many customers are turning to e-retailers to find those must-have items.

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With many people spending more time at home, they are also using more common household items such as cleaning supplies, pantry items and snacks, among other things.

According to a Harris Poll survey, people are concerned about the economic impact the pandemic will have on their lives. These economic concerns are leading shoppers to seek out more ways to save. With the convenience and flexibility online shopping provides, many customers are turning to e-retailers to find those must-have items.

To help busy and budget-conscious shoppers, Woot!, the Amazon-owned daily deals site, launched a grocery and household category to offer deals on everyday essentials.

Consider these five ways shoppers can save time and money when making household purchases.

1. Compare prices.

One benefit of shopping online versus in-store is you can look across different brands to compare prices in real time. By seeing available brands and pricing in one place, you can save more and make the best purchase choices for your household.  

2. Take advantage of deals.

When you shop in a store, you’re confined to the deals and selection the store is offering at the time of your trip. When you shop online, you aren’t limited to the store’s offerings, often allowing you to score better deals and browse a larger selection.

3. Save time exploring virtual aisles.

Shopping at a store can be time consuming. Consider virtual grocery and household shopping, and unlike in-person aisles, virtual aisles hide categories when selection is unavailable so you won’t waste your time and can be confident items you’re looking at are available at a discount.

4. Customize your shopping experience. 

The flexibility and convenience of shopping online can save you time. Since you aren’t shopping in-store, you don’t have to worry about store hours and locations, giving you the flexibility to shop at all hours and from any location, as long as you have Wi-Fi and access to a computer or mobile device. With the ability to shop around your schedule, you can gain precious time to spend with the people you love, doing the things you love.

5. Benefit from membership perks.

Another perk of online shopping is being able to leverage membership benefits to save more. Some retailers offer member-based programs or partner to offer members of certain programs discounts.

Between the vast selection, price options and convenience of shopping from home, there are many ways shoppers can save big on time and money as they shop for everyday essentials and household must-haves. 

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Strategies

How to protect your finances through COVID-19

During uncertain times, many feel anxious about how they will cope with unanticipated changes or hardships. Here are top tips to protect your finances during Covid-19.

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Communities around the world are feeling the impact of temporary closures of businesses, schools and public facilities. During uncertain times, many feel anxious about how they will cope with unanticipated changes or hardships.

“COVID-19 is an unprecedented… emergency and we must all work together to reduce its overall impacts to allow families to recover once it has passed,” said OnPoint Community Credit Union CEO/president Rob Stuart.

Below are OnPoint Community Credit Union’s top tips for protecting finances amid COVID-19:

Your first actions  

  • Prioritize expenses and review your budget. If you’re concerned about a loss of income or unplanned expenses and don’t have emergency savings, you may need to prioritize which expenses you cover first and update your budget accordingly.
  • Deal with creditors proactively. If you face challenges in paying your monthly obligations, you have a better chance of working out an agreeable payment plan with creditors when you contact them early.
  • Know your options. Look into options that may be available for any loans you have – e.g. Home Equity Lines of Credit, Small Business Loans, and more.
  • Secure access to digital banking. If you aren’t able to physically visit your financial institution’s branch or call wait times are longer than expected, be prepared by downloading the most recent version with their app and test your login.

Protect yourself from scams
Scammers can be more active during uncertain times. To protect yourself and your family:

  • Be aware. Stay up to date on current scams and how to take action if you think you’ve been a victim. There are already national reports of email phishing scams targeting remote workers, offering economic stimulus checks and selling health insurance. OnPoint’s data security team has seen more debit and credit card fraud than average, and believes fraudsters are using the distraction of COVID-19 to get information.
  • Be vigilant. Scrutinize emails, texts, calls and social media posts that offer financial relief or promote the sale of cure-all products or limited-time special offers. Scam tactics can include masquerading as a delivery company such as UPS, claiming to offer advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and fake lending emails related to the interest rate drop. These messages often contain links to malicious sites that closely mirror the legitimate sites. Ensure that you hover over the link to validate the site before clicking.
  • Be cautious. Never disclose your online banking credentials or PINs. Scammers often claim to be from your financial institution calling about a fraudulent card charge. They will then ask you to confirm information like card number, PIN, online banking credentials, etc. Also, beware of those striking up long distance relationships online. Sweetheart scammers often fake an emergency that necessitates money. Victims then willingly act on the fraudster’s instructions to “help” through mobile deposit, external transfers and wires.

Know your resources for job loss
With mandatory and recommended closures of businesses and large numbers of people staying home, the crisis is bound to impact the income of workers and business owners. During this time, it’s important to understand what options are available from financial institutions, utility companies, and governments that may be offering new programs, special considerations, or grace periods.

The coronavirus relief bill, which was signed into law last week, significantly expands unemployment insurance for out-of-work Americans, including larger checks, a longer eligibility period, and an extension to previously ineligible workers.

Address investment concerns
Your investment strategy should match where you are in your retirement planning and for some, that may mean your portfolio will move to lower risk options as you near or enter retirement.This can help protect you from market fluctuations.

If your retirement is still a ways off, it’s likely best for you to take a long-term approach to financial planning and try not to fixate on the day-to-day valuations of your 401k or other assets. If you are feeling uneasy or want to ensure that your retirement plan is still on track with your goals, seek the guidance of a Financial Advisor with a reputable affiliation.

Engage the family
Children may sense your stress but not understand how your financial situation has been affected, causing them to feel uneasy. When appropriate, explain the need to cut back temporarily and discuss the news calmly and simply. Making time to discuss what changes you are anticipating and how everyone can contribute toward the family, including:

  • For older family members, sharing the responsibility for paying the bills or deciding which expenses to reduce.
  • Designating financial chores, such as having small children count out the penny jar and having older children sit alongside you to read through the utility bills.
  • Taking 20 minutes to ask each family member how they could contribute to the family next week via finances or chores.
  • Writing down everyone’s commitments and pop it up on the fridge or door; getting everyone involved may reduce stress and create a feeling of unity.

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