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COVID-19: Massive list of resources for Texas professionals

(BUSINESS NEWS) This is a resource list compiled to help any business tackle the various challenges that coincide with a global pandemic like COVID-19.

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Austin skyline

Well, that escalated quickly. We were saddened by the cancellation of SXSW which for 34 years has brought thousands of people to Austin to celebrate interactive, music and tech. Many entrepreneurs, artists and small business owners thrive on their exposure and sales during this two-week festival. Many bars, restaurants and shops rely on this additional foot traffic each year.

Some amazing person quickly pulled together ilostmygig.com where people could report in about the wage, they were losing due to the cancellation of the festival.

Not much later, we may have been complaining about our daily commutes in Austin traffic and the next told that our workplaces were closed, and we would need to start having meetings on Zoom, Skype and MS Teams and work remotely for an indefinite time.

Schools and daycare may have also been closed, with not much notice, so people are balancing doing this new work from home all the time while having a child/children home too. Others in Austin were not sure what their workplaces would do and sat by their emails at 11pm on Sunday night.

We know this sudden shift in our daily lives hurts. This hurts everyone whether you’re a full-time employee, small business owner, local artist and maker, restaurant/bar owner and/or self-employed. A Small Business Friends ATX group quickly pulled together a webinar with resources for their community and we have permission to share here. Many of these are also an attempt to support some of our small business owners in our world here in Austin, TX.

We hope this list provides you with some great ideas and/or resources to do while the world around us in uncertain. This is by no means an exhaustive list (and is highly relevant to Texas) but could also offer you ideas to seek out in your community. Either way, it’s a great demonstration of the power of community – whether in real life or online.

Erin Wike, Career Coach and Lecturer at UT Austin, Owner of Cafe Con Resume and Small Business Friends ATX Co-Founder (Austin-based owner):

TEXAS – Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

Disaster Unemployment Assistance During or After Natural Disasters

Design Your Life Workbook – If you need some help with design thinking prompts and guidance on how to explore new opportunities in your business, this guided workbook helps you to draw out what potential there is in an easy format and at your own pace.

Super U Podcast (also on Spotify) (Austin-based owner)
Erik Qualman’s Super U Podcast has tons of great tips on personal/digital branding and stories of people bringing out their superpowers. The March 16 podcast is about Online Classes and Online Learning during Coronavirus Quarantine. He also shares great tips on Instagram (short sound bites)
(And shameless plug, Erin Wike is interviewed on the 2/26 episode about The Modern Resume and Aligning your Passions with work).

The Prowess Project Certification
16-hour certification on teamwork, interpersonal skills, technology and Project Management principles. (Austin-based owner)

Doers Shakers Makers
Sierra Bailey’s Podcast has tons of great tips for tiny, talented business owners around content marketing, scaling, time management, etc. (Austin-based owner)
She also has a free Facebook group and virtual meet ups.

Google Analytics 101 for Small Business Owners (recorded webinar via YouTube)

Social Media Today has a story about LinkedIn Learning
In the coming days, we will make 16 LinkedIn Learning courses available for free including tips on how to: stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools (Microsoft Teams, Skype, BlueJeans, Cisco WebEx and Zoom), and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way.

LinkedIn Learning has a ton of resources too about learning Google Analytics, Digital Marketing trends, Excel, etc.

Remote Resources by Facebook Education
If you’re looking for reliable content to share with your members on the prevention of coronavirus, or dealing with anxiety surrounding the virus, we’ve compiled some helpful information from leading health authorities.

Lynn Chang, Owner of Career Zen where East meets West in her approach to helping people with their Career Journeys.

  • 20 minutes of restorative yoga is equivalent to a 2-hr nap. Doing this everyday can improve your mindset and wellbeing. Waterfall pose. You can find other yoga and meditation videos from the Career Zen YouTube channel. Leandra Blei Photography filmed and edited the meditation ones!
  • I wrote The 10 Day Career Cleanse to help us during stressful, chaotic times at work. Through inner zen and harmony, we can more easily tap into creativity and innovation for our businesses. Jessica Hagemann of Cider Spoon Stories (Austin-based owner) was my editor!
  • Need some extra money now? Remote Side Hustles, Work from home jobs through Rat Race Rebellion, Disaster Unemployment Assistance for small businesses. I’ll have more resources and special offerings to share as we go. Here’s my FB business page for reference.
  • Remember that your path to success is naturally paved with unexpected twists and turns. Stay focused on your vision and use your talents to better the world!

Sonya Strattman (Austin-based owner)
Success Strategist for Women in Business
Creator of Women in the Business Arena podcast and program

  • Sonya will have several podcast episodes on dealing with the current environment starting next week. Look up Women in the Business Arena on your favorite podcast app or visit: https://sonyastattmann.com/listen
  • She also has some very specific episodes on topics that will support you during these times.
    1. 3-part series on Navigating business with kids off of school, with illness, etc. Episodes 110-112 starting here.
    2. Overcoming fear EP105.
    3. The Inevitability of Discomfort and How to Move through it EP127.
    4. Deconstructing Stress EP134.
    5. Facing Discouragement & Rising Again EP132.
  • For those in a service business, she has a quick quiz that can help you determine where to focus your attention right now for the most results. Sonya also has accompanying training for each result.
  • Women’s Facebook group called Women in the Business Arena (same as the podcast). You are welcome to join and ask me her questions.

Ruoyun Xu Killian (Austin-based owner)
Founder of C3Nami, a Digital Marketing Agency.

  • Her company is currently working on potentially offering free 20 min advice calls to see how they can support people more on an individual level, but you can always email her, and she will do her best to answer questions.
  • Article about twitters advice on how to adjust your tone during these times.
  • Facebook hub for small businesses.
  • Official City of Austin website.
  • CDC website
  • We here at The American Genius feel the struggles of this time, we hear hundreds of stories each week and know it can be scary living in such uncertainty. We share these resources not only to help you through these hard times, but to show that others are working on, around, and through the problems along side you.

    This list is mostly centered around businesses but the more important element in all of this is you. Take care of yourself and business will return to normal, so wash your hands, stay away from others for the time being, and maybe you can actually catch up on that sleep you’ve been lacking for years.

Erin Wike is a Career Coach & Lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin and owner of Cafe Con Resume. Erin is fueled by dark roast coffee with cream AND sugar, her loving husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs. She is the Co-Founder of Small Business Friends ATX to help fellow entrepreneurs + hosts events for people to live a Life of Yes with Mac & Cheese Productions.

Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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