What YOU can do: COVID-19 Advice for Business Owners
As we head into a new week, I want to share my thoughts on the current situation we all face.
I am not a medical expert or an economist.
I will not belittle what is happening or say this is Armageddon.
I will try to give a balanced view.
Whatever we will go though over the next days, weeks and months, some people will lose their lives and that truly is a tragedy.
I want to put this into perspective on what YOU can do…
My set of skills is limited to leading businesses as well as dealing with crisis situations (short and long term).
I agree that these crises were only internal to us – BUT they were real – I knew where we were, what we needed to do to carry on, and had a plan to get there.
So that’s where I want to start with this crisis: it WILL end at some point and clear heads will save the day for you and all around you.
Based on this, here are my suggestions for you:
1 – Know the Situation
Don’t listen to anybody who is not deemed expert in their areas. Here are a couple of links I suggest you swat up on:
First the Government strategy: the four stages (we are currently in stage two) and what are the triggers for these stages. Why these triggers specifically, and what is the cause of effect and how they impact you.
So, until there is a change that would impact in what you do, we continue. Yes, there will be a downturn, but we should all know our breakeven point, and this is what we need to now plan for in the worst case.
The more you can understand this the more you can keep a clear head and support those around you.
If you don’t know it, or are unsure, this is what we are here for.
2 – Plan What You Can Do To Minimise Impact
This means financially, product wise but also for the potential lull and then boom that could follow as the delay gets lifted.
What I mean by this is going back to my point that this will end. At that point you will have to be ready to move forward again, and if you have cut too much this may be difficult or even impossible. Also, if you have acted purely in the interest of yourself you may discover that others won’t be so loyal. This thought process is in line with our maxim of ‘how you anything is how you do everything’.
For your customers, suppliers and staff I urge you to go on the front foot (at the same level of where the government is) and reiterate what you are doing to keep the doors open.
For a few companies we work with who has close contact with their customers I suggested that they ask their customers to follow the same as the NHS 111 three-part question, and also reconfirm that ALL of their staff answer this daily. Maybe even provide a thermometer so they can self-test.
Again, as per the current Government advice/stage, we need to follow this lead, update accordingly and not panic our customers.
Financially the Government has announced lots of measures to support businesses including the HMRC time to pay system etc:
3 – Your Personal Situation
All the institutions are doing their utmost to help. Mortgage companies are allowing payment holidays, banks are providing support. Look at your monthly personal bills and research what options you have. Don’t leave this too late.
Remember this will end, so having payment holidays and adding them onto the end gives us all breathing space.
I must keep reiterating we are all in the same boat, every business will be impacted in some way either financially or through health issues. It is our responsibility as leaders to NOT cause the panic.
This was summed up recently by what Lily and I saw in Waitrose on Saturday where a man was having a go at staff because there wasn’t any hand sanitiser because in his words: ‘people were panic buying’. As I walked past, I commented to Lily that’s exactly what he was doing but he couldn’t see it.
Please see it! We can do our own thing to limit the spread through all the advice we get, we can use the measures that the Government has provided to limit outlay. We should have a small buffer in case of emergencies (new Zero strategy) and if it all goes wrong and there is a lock down, we are all in the same boat so the Government will step in to ensure survival.
I gather that if there is a lock down, the research indicates that after 14 days the virus is not considered a risk.
Nobody can survive too long without income so there will be measures to protect this and just delay our payments until this is under control.
4 – Look To Reinvent Yourselves
Dubai recently closed all its schools until September and a business we know earned around 70k per month from school projects. Their business just fell off a cliff.
But it’s the mindset of the owner that is the spirit we all must adopt: instead of slashing costs and feeling sorry for himself he reviewed the situation and used the now free time to reinvent his business. He created an online version of what he did at the schools and on his first day sold 10k of product. Strangely he may now earn more monthly that he did prior…
So, what can you do? How can you reinvent? How can you prepare for the down then up? Because if you don’t then your competitors will.
Bizarrely we all want that extra time to plan for our next version of our businesses and this may be forced upon us – with a potential for payment holidays this could be the making of some businesses.
5 – Stay Positive
This does not mean blindly positive but there are more vulnerable people out there than us and this is the time we also need to think about them.
Panic buying to stock up just means that the people most at risk who may not be able to get out and have the money to spend get less when they need more. Look around you – if you are fit and healthy you will get through this, others may not and as entrepreneurs we are built to change people’s lives, this is the time to start doing that.
Please get in touch if you want help, discussion, planning, ideas, support or just a chat.
As always Jacki and I are here for you all and your wider communities you represent, as you have been for us.
Martin & Jacki
The Scalability Coach | Britain’s Top 10 Adviser 2018 | Author of #1 bestseller I don’t work Fridays | Ex-CEO of a PLC