Ten Forward interviewed about how we're adapting during the pandemic
Ten Forward co-owner and senior developer Hilary Stohs-Krause was recently interviewed by local company Action Coach for their newsletter series on how small businesses are adapting and changing during COVID-19.
Who is your target market?
"We work with companies of all sizes. We really like working with local companies, when possible, to build that sense of community and collaboration. We have done a lot of work with small businesses and startups, in particular, because we have a lot of experience with a wide variety of clients. So that experience enables us to really dive deep into the kinds of solutions that are going to enable our clients to be the most successful. We like building years-long relationships with clients and really helping them grow their businesses."
What has been the greatest impact of Covid 19 on your business?
"I'd sum it up by uncertainty. What will the world look like? Should we be in the office? Right now, we're all remote.
With our clients' uncertainty, what is their budget going to look like? How are priorities going to change for our education clients, given that the whole education system in the US has been upended?
Overall, we've been fortunate. A lot of industries and organizations are getting back to projects they may have been putting off. We've been able to hire a few folks, which has been exciting. We've done better than we thought we would. Now, we're asking how can we use what we know and the position we are in to help other companies be more successful in this changed climate."
What actions (pivots) have you taken to make a difference?
"We had to look at it from a business perspective and ask, 'How do we ensure that our employees are being supported right now?' Everything from making sure that our staff has the most up-to-date information on our health care plan and what it covers for COVID to making sure our employees are still getting breaks, even if vacation doesn't look the same as it used to.
Onboarding new people when we are not normally a full-time remote company has definitely been a challenge. And it's not just employees, but also clients.We just found that you need to over-communicate all the time. We all had some experience working remotely, so that transition went more smoothly for us than for a lot of companies. While we miss seeing everyone in-person, our main focus right now is serving our clients and keeping our people safe and healthy."
It's been said that smart people learn from their mistakes, wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What mistakes did you make along the way that other entrepreneurs can learn from?
"I think one of the main things we have learned is that just because you're small doesn't mean that you can ignore the need for process. The bigger we grew, the more apparent it was that we needed some structure. When you're a three-person company, it's a lot easier to teach someone everything they need to know. Suddenly, when you're a 20-person company, that gets to be a lot more challenging. As your company scales, make sure you are deliberate about your people and processes and scaling those systems, as well."
What's most inspiring to you today?
"We have a weekly all-staff meeting on Fridays. At the beginning of that meeting every week, we look at two feel-good news articles. There's plenty of upheaval in the world, but there are so many good things happening and so many people really looking out for each other. We see that among our staff and our clients - the way everyone is trying to figure out how to make things better for each other and our community is really great. At Ten Forward, we are trying to do our part there, as well, by helping the various communities that we are a part of."