For many entrepreneurs, it seems like a bad time to start a business. But for Anna Wahl of Elkhart Lake, opportunity is knocking.
Wahl, a Green Bay SCORE client and experienced human resources professional, has started CultureStream HR Solutions (www.culturestreamhr.com). With many businesses questioning how to handle furloughs, transitioning to working at home, family leave time to spend with children doing virtual learning, employee morale, and the legal implications of every situation, Wahl is able to provide assistance and answers.
"There are the questions, 'What do we need to do to be compliant? How do I make sure I'm taking care of my employees?'" Wahl said. "It can be a nightmare if you aren't on top of it to make sure you are doing the right thing."
She said some employees are afraid to go to the office, and others might feel detached from their company. There are others who are furloughed and afraid they won't be called back to work.
"The leadership needs to be very communicative throughout this," Wahl said. "Create engaging virtual meetings for people so they can engage. I have worked virtually for companies and didn't realize how important that skill set is."
One company she is associated with has offered virtual classes for children of its employees so they can get a break. There are other companies who offered aides so that parents could better focus on their jobs. The important thing, she says, is to find out what the needs are and provide programs and services that will lead to greater cultural engagement.
As a generalist, Wahl says she is in a good position to help. Instead of looking for a consulting firm that might specialize in a niche area, she is able to offer broader assistance.
"I have touched every facet of human resources and feel very knowledgeable in all aspects," Wahl said. "Rather that hiring multiple people, I can handle it all."
Her passion for human resources developed as she worked in a variety of management positions, starting in San Diego. When she started taking on roles in human resources for a pharmaceutical company, she says she found her calling. She had to start at the bottom, but she quickly thrived.
"I wanted to be a person who could make a difference to assist people and help them advance in their careers," Wahl said. "I am detail oriented but have a good balance; that's important because of the need to handle confidential information. I have a good way of walking that line where you can tell how I feel, but I can navigate that and stay professional."
These strengths have been incorporated into the services offered. Her tagline is "Connect Your People Through Your Culture," and the menu includes recruiting, onboarding, team building, compensation and benefits management, leadership and professional development, conflict resolution, strategic planning, and company culture and employee engagement.
Another area she plans to focus on, and one she considers vital, is diversity within a company's ranks. It is that, and the large array of other options, that have her convinced that outsourcing is an excellent choice.
"The benefits of outsourcing are numerous," Wahl said. "I am flexible based on the industry's expectations and can focus on their immediate needs. As a generalist, they don't need to look at hiring a larger staff. I'm hourly, and that can be a test to see if I'm a good fit. It's a nice way to get to know each other."
The demand also will help her to finalize her business plan. Ryan Kauth, SCORE mentor and lecturer of entrepreneurship at UW-Green Bay, has made suggestions, and along with former bosses, has helped her with ideas for marketing herself. She needs to promote her certifications and abilities as she competes with firms from around the country.
"Ryan has been phenomenal in letting me know the steps that make sense," Wahl said. "SCORE has some great content online, and I'm writing my business plan myself. I do have an attorney to make sure that I am legally compliant."
As she uses the time during the pandemic to establish her business, she suggests that others also take advantage of any extra time.
"Continue to utilize the time, because I have found it to be incredible," she said. "There are so many ways you can continue to learn; so many resources out there for you to build your resume. Use the time to personally grow and hold your head up and be positive, patient and optimistic. We are all in this together. As far as I'm concerned, that phrase is not overused."
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.