What It Takes To Keep A Small Business Open and Thriving
While your rapid decisions over the last few months were key to staying afloat, future survival and growth depend on a long-term strategy to connect employees and customers anywhere, anytime.
Over the past few weeks, we interviewed a number of small business owners about their experience dealing with the sudden transition to working remotely. The first interviews were shown in yesterday’s webinar, What it takes to keep a small business open (and thrive).
As a supplement to this, today’s blog highlights some of the questions and answers from yesterday’s guests: Financial Advisor Josh Sokol, and owner of ABC Services, Andrew Gonzales.
Josh Sokol - Financial Advisor
Josh: My name is Josh Sokol and I’m a Financial Advisor. I work with individual clients through ongoing financial planning and comprehensive asset management to help them reach their financial goals.
8x8: When the shelter in place order came down, how did it change your business? How quickly did it happen and what were some of the challenges?
Josh: I'm so used to meeting with clients in person and collaborating as a firm together in person, so we had to quickly transition to working from home. It wasn't easy at first, but we did a good job managing that transition and going about our business remotely, doing everything through technology, video conferencing, and other means.
8x8: How has 8x8 helped overcome some of these challenges?
Josh: 8x8 has been a great tool for me and my firm, both pre-Covid and during. As we’ve navigated the remote work environment, 8x8’s all-in-one communications solution has helped me link my office phone to my cell phone, making it easy to communicate with clients seamlessly. This shows that 8x8 understands how crucial it is to be able to communicate with our clients.
8x8: Do you think that the transition to remote meetings and using video might actually help your business and even expand it?
Josh: Transitioning to a remote business environment has improved efficiency and ability to meet and speak with clients more frequently. Not having to spend time getting to work or scheduling in-person meetings based on geography has saved me time to take on more meetings more frequently.
And being able to use the app to call clients for my office line remotely as well as using the scheduling and notifications and other features that 8x8 provides during this remote working from home environment has just made my life easier.
8x8: Do you plan to use 8x8 going forward?
Josh: I know indefinitely we will use video conferencing and other virtual technologies to meet with customers who have a hard time making it to our office or we have a hard time getting to their home. But really nothing changes besides the fact that we're meeting now through a camera and video conferencing tool, so I think if clients choose to use this method I have no doubt we will continue indefinitely.
8x8: Any advice for businesses out there trying to cope in this environment?
Make yourself comfortable in uncomfortable situations using technology. Use tools like 8x8 to make sure that your business operations don't need to change. Use technology to seamlessly adapt to your business’s needs or your client’s needs and if you are a leader at your respective business or small business make sure you know that things don’t need to change (when working remotely) and do whatever you need to to make that happen.
Andrew Gonzales - Owner, ABC Services
Andrew: ABC Services is a recently-opened accounting firm whose primary focus is bookkeeping. As we grow, we look to expand our services to include payroll, tax prep, outsourced CFO, and accounting departments.
8x8: Excellent. Now that you started your business in July. So in the middle of the biggest employment crisis we’re having—in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic—you decided it’s time to start a business. What was going on?
Andrew: Well, I come from an event management company background and I work in the finance department there, working with our clients reconciling their financials. When Covid-19 happened, it was detrimental to the industry... to the travel industry and to the events management industry, so I just had an idea. This is something that had been on my mind for a while. The pieces started moving in March, and as soon as I put the plan in motion, it just kind of worked itself out and I was able to open in July this year
Andrew: I had to sit back and really think where I was and what I was doing and ask myself: “Am I happy with what I’m doing, am I where I want to be?”, and those answers to both those questions were no. I decided this is the perfect opportunity. Let's focus on what I want to do and build my dreams.
Andrew: 8x8 gives me the opportunity to have a dedicated business line without the extra cost of hardware.
Andrew: I love the auto attendant. It allows me to present that higher level of service to my clientele. When they're calling in, they’re not just reaching the phone that goes straight to voicemail, they know they're calling my company. They know that they're going to speak with somebody that works with my company.
Andrew: My advice to businesses now is that it's the right opportunity when things change; change isn't always a bad thing so you have to look to the future; you have to look at what resources and skills that you're going to learn now with Covid-19. Everything is moving to a virtual setting, and you’re able to offer these different services to customers that you haven't been able to reach before.
We hope you enjoyed the insights these two 8x8 customers had to share with us! If you would like to watch the full interview, click here.
Please join us for future customer stories as we hear from more forward-thinking organizations that are leaning into change and leading with communications.