SHOW LOW — One of our most important functions at the Small Business Development Center hosted at Northland Pioneer College is to assist our small businesses see the future and prepare for that future.

We believe the future continues to hold challenges for our small businesses.

Most believe in the next few weeks Congress will enact enhanced unemployment benefits in reaction to the pandemic.

Some are speculating that the benefit amount for people who are unemployed will be increased up to an extra $400 per week.

During the summer when a similar proposal was enacted many local businesses had trouble filling positions as applicants chose to stay unemployed at the higher compensation.

This article is not meant to discuss the pluses and minuses of enacting the policy.

That decision is made a long way from Show Low.

This article is to assist our small businesses prepare for the possible enactment and minimize any disruption.

In looking forward, the most successful businesses will be able to retain employees, hire more if needed and make due with less staff if the situation calls for it.

There are four ways a small business can put itself in the best position should this policy be enacted.

Know your business highs and lows

For example, know if your company has dead times are between 1 and 4 p.m.

Can you get away with less staffing then or if really in a tight spot does it make sense to close for those three hours?

How about opening at 10 a.m. instead of 9?

If you start looking at these possibilities now you will have time to study possible options if needed.

You may have to try to do more with less.

Hire now

If you have needed to hire another part-time person and you have just been putting it off — do it now.

When the enhanced unemployment is enacted some applicants will temporarily exit the job market and competition for the remaining applicants will heat up.

Get ahead of the competition by hiring now.

“Always looking”

Many small businesses only look for new employees when they have a job opening.

Now is the time to change that policy and be “always looking” for a good hire in the future.

You can be honest with job seekers and tell them there are currently no openings but you are always looking for good people and will keep their resume or application.

The same is true of referrals you may get.

Now is the time to build up your possible pool of applicants.

Retain your current employees

There are a number of things you can do for your current employees that do not include paying more money.

Is there a pathway forward?

People are more willing to stay if the position is leading somewhere and not “just a job.”

Are they learning? This is the time to cross train and help your people get more skills.

Don’t forget the simple things. Do you appreciate your people and have you told them?

Year in and year out surveys reveal that employees react positively to recognition and praise.

As many small businesses are crawling out of pandemic none of us saw coming it is now time to look forward to see the challenges ahead.

Let’s put our businesses on the best footing to succeed.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted at NPC instituted the recent PLEASE Buy Local campaigns and is funded to assist companies grow and prosper.

Call 928-965-8679 or register for no cost one-on-one assistance at npc.edu/sbdc.

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