Helping Business Owners Successfully Navigate a Pandemic

We recently talked to Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist from Zoho, a leading technology company that wants to transform the way you work. 

Here’s an edited excerpt from our conversation. Be sure to check out the entire podcast here

Rieva Lesonsky: Hi Raju! Welcome to the R&B Show. Let’s start by having you tell us a little about Zoho. 

Raju Vegesna: Thanks, Rieva and Brian. Zoho offers software for businesses. I think of us as a technology platform where you can pretty much run your entire business on it—from hosting your website to  marketing your business to winning customers and supporting your customers, doing your accounting. We offer an end-to-end suite of products.

Brian Moran: In response to the coronavirus crisis Zoho bundled a number of its apps and created Zoho Remotely, which is free to all customers until at least July. 

Vegesna: We bundled communication tools and included Zoho meeting and related tools  for web conferencing, a couple of project management tools and other tools that are needed as people go remote. 

Moran: You created a new offering, which is called emergency subscription assistance program for Zoho customers. What does this program do for Zoho customers? 

Vegesna: Small businesses that are impacted by the pandemic, typically businesses under 25 employees, can apply. And if they qualify, we will waive the subscription fee for the next three months for whatever applications they use. 

Moron: Let’s talk about helping the smallest businesses survive the next 30, 60, 90 days. What advice would you give to them,?

Vegesna: At this point, survival is the key. You’re not talking about growth. Stay afloat. Survival is the key. And keep an eye on the assets you own—which really are the people. Take care of the people and make sure that everyone survives together. 

During tough times is when the character of an individual or a business comes out. That’s when if you stand by your employees, help them out, that basically creates a strong sense of family. And I believe leaders come out our tough times. If they can stay afloat, I think then they will eventually win and keep that team intact if possible. 

Lesonsky: Can you share some tips about how to you manage a remote workforce? 

Vegesna: As a business owner, the number one thing when you go remote is trust. Trust your employees. I’ve seen unfortunately some companies who set up a camera and monitor their employees. That’s a bad approach to say the least. So the number-one thing you have to have is trust that your employees will pitch in—that they are going to do their part. It may not be their usual schedule. 

Lesonsky: I think businesses need to maintain a sense of humanity and connection. It’s really important to still connect on a personal level, not just a work level.

Vegesna: Operating on a personal level includes video calls where you typically say, “Hey, I have a video call” and ask the kids to stay out. Why can’t we include the kids—bring in the kid, introduce them to the rest of the team. You’re not just meeting the families during the Christmas party. You’re meeting them during these times. Make it an inclusive experience and you get the feeling we are all in it together and everyone is going through the same thing. 

We are in challenging times and every individual has to do their part to stay safe. In our case, we can stay safe individually by staying indoors—and you are helping others stay safe as well. We have to come out of this as a community. To hear the entire conversation with Raju Vegesna, click here.

Founder and CEO of Brian Moran & Associates.

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