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UC Goering Center news

Keep your focus on operations

By David Mills

A suggestion to focus on the operations of your business right now might sound like an odd piece of advice. That may be all you’re already doing, but don't let the urgent needs of today cloud your ability to see the long term. Read on for operations tips that business owners should keep in mind as the pandemic continues to play out.

1. Review your contracts. If you are concerned about not being able to fulfill promised work, remember that most contracts contain a force majeure clause that could protect you. Sometimes, contracts explicitly list qualifying events, but most are open to interpretation. Review your contracts and the fine print. Now is the time to make sure you understand the details around your obligations — and your rights — due to the impact of the coronavirus.

2. Use available productivity. Make the most of the current capacity that the outbreak has created within your organization. As work slowly comes back online, what new products, services or even procedures do you have time to address before the new normal arrives? Most importantly, involve your team directly. They will take ownership to help make your efforts successful, and you will help them feel productive and empowered at a sensitive time.

John F. Kennedy once said, "Written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters — one represents danger and one represents opportunity. The danger signs are all around us, [but] along with danger, crisis is represented by opportunity."

3. Upgrade your team. Until a few weeks ago, the lack of talented hires was the limiter to growth for most companies that I know. That has changed. Go on the offensive and consider hiring quality free agents – they will be available. What investment opportunities have been uncovered by this crisis or lacked attention and focus previously? Now is the time to bet on your company and distinguish yourself from your competition with new, needed talents. This can send a powerful message to your team: you are not just weathering the storm but thriving in it.

4. Plan for the dawn. Make sure you are taking this time to assess the operational aspects of restarting your business for when that time comes. What equipment, processes and notifications could use a "pre-start checklist” to ensure they are ready to go when the societal and economic landscapes allow? What things were turned off? What access or security measures will need to revert to previous ways? What inventories need to be reviewed or restocked? Even if your business has not been fully shut down during the crisis, it certainly has been impacted. Make sure you know what it takes to return to normal.

5. Look toward tomorrow. Finally, don't forget to plan for when the coronavirus is an unwelcomed memory. John F. Kennedy once said, "Written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters — one represents danger and one represents opportunity. The danger signs are all around us, [but] along with danger, crisis is represented by opportunity." What opportunities for improvement have been highlighted for your business by this crisis? Don't just limit yourself to reviewing the organization's contingency plans and resulting reaction. What technology modernizations are needed? What new business opportunities have been uncovered? What did the organization learn about working remotely? How should the supply chain be reconsidered in light of these globalization lessons? How will your customers’ needs and demands change as a result of this crisis? It might be a little too soon to begin to work on all of these, but it is not too soon to at least write them down for deeper consideration at the right time.

David Mills is vice president, Strategic Accounts, for Definity Partners, a business of Clark, Schaeffer, Hackett. Reach Dave at 513-256-7264 or at

Photo/Cherry Lin/Unsplash

About the Goering Center for Family & Private Business
Established in 1989, the Goering Center serves more than 400 member companies, making it North America’s largest university-based educational non-profit center for family and private businesses. The Center’s mission is to nurture and educate family and private businesses to drive a vibrant economy. Affiliation with the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati provides access to a vast resource of business programing and expertise. Goering Center members receive real-world insights that enlighten, strengthen and prolong family and private business success. For more information on the Center, participation and membership visit

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July 7, 2020

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