Entrepreneur in Residence Offers Advice for Business Owners Struggling to Survive the Pandemic

June 2, 2020
By: Kristen O'Reilly

While the COVID-19 pandemic is causing extreme disruption in the business world, it also presents an opportunity to take a deep dive into a company’s business strategy while day-to-day operations are at a standstill, according to Steven F. Dorval, Worcester State’s Entrepreneur in Residence. A crisis can push a company to accelerate change and confront weaknesses, both financial and personnel-wise, and crystalize a way forward, he added.

Dorval gave his advice on Monday, June 1, during the first of a series of free online workshops, presented by Worcester State’s Center for Entrepreneurship and the Center for Business and Industry (CBI), for business leaders who are coping with the COVID-19 crisis.

“CBI and the Center for Entrepreneurship decided to collaborate to offer these workshops to help business leaders in the greater Worcester community figure out how to move forward with their businesses,” says Elaine Vescio, director of entrepreneurship. “We surveyed area businesses, and the most popular requests for topics focused on business strategy, finance and cash flow, and managing customer relationships.”

During the first workshop on business strategy, Dorval said a strong vision and mission statement are critical for success.

“In times of uncertainty, we need to have a foundation, something to hold on to,” he said. “Having a strong mission and vision helps workers make decisions in the absence of leadership.”

The crisis is “just putting gas on the fire” for extreme changes that leaders might have known were coming, but had avoided addressing, he said. They must answer questions like: What will the new workplace look like? What trends have you been hoping will go away but obviously are here to stay? How are your employees doing? Can you explore different marketing channels?

“Look without emotion at aspects of your business, and ask ‘how are we really doing in terms of ROI?’” he said.

Dorval will reprise the same workshop, Business Strategy for the COVID-19 Crisis, on Friday, June 12, at 11 a.m. Other workshops include: Managing Business Continuity and Finance during the COVID-19 Era on Wednesday, June 3, 11 a.m., and Monday, June 8, at 9 a.m.; and Reimagining the Customer Experience in the COVID-19 Era on Friday, June 5, at 9 a.m. and Wednesday, June 10, at 9 a.m.

Vescio says the target audience is business leaders and owners of small to mid-size organizations in the greater Worcester community.

“We hope these workshops will provide actionable advice that helps Worcester-area businesses make key decisions to recover,” says Vescio. “We also want area business leaders to view Worcester State as the source of relevant business knowledge, and hopefully more area businesses will turn to CBI for business training and workforce development.”

For more information or to register for the workshops, visit: http://www.wsu-entrepreneurship.com/workshops.html.

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