One reality all business owners need to face, in some form or shape, is the impact of the predicted economic slowdown on your business. It’s either going to impact directly, because of the sector or industry you are in, or indirectly, through the customers or clients that buy from you.
Some clients of mine have said they have done pretty well during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, but are now feeling the impact because now their client’s clients have less disposable income. Be it B2B or B2C the story is the same. The guidance given here is about how to pull through such situations as best as possible.
The question is, how do you deal with any economic uncertainty and the changes it brings? More specifically, how do you recover from the changes COVID-19 has brought? How do you adapt to the 'new normal' imposed on the world, businesses and individuals? This is how to recover. You go through 3 stages. The response, the recovery and the reconstruction. These phases overlap. We have been through phase 1 and that’s coming to an end. Phase 2 is recovery and these are some points to consider:
So, what has worked well during the response stage? In your immediate response to the epidemic, what has worked well for you? Have you accelerated those plans to digitise some of your services now that you have no choice, or have you been able to cut costs by having some of your staff work from home whilst managing social distancing?
Have there been products or services you have been producing more efficiently during this time? It could simply have been that you have streamlined some of the processes in such a way you may not have thought about before the pandemic hit. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. You need to take account of these things that have all of a sudden worked well for you during this time that you can continue with.
Have you birthed a new idea as a result of this that has become one of the new services or products that require development, but when developed can be your ticket to recovery. It will help immensely in the recovery process. There are some good financial packages out there like the Bounce Back Loan, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Self Employment Income Scheme, Furlough and many more. Whilst some of these are winding down, use them to leverage your current position as much as you can.
Showing leadership. As an entrepreneur of a micro, small or medium size company, panicking could mean drowning, but strong leadership on the other hand, can be the key to your success. So far, the British public has generally remained calm and pulled together. This is a huge positive! It is very easy to panic when it looks like there is no way through this and other people are looking up to you for their livelihood and state of mind, especially when you own a business with employees that may have families to feed.
The British government has also played a huge role in helping business with loans and grants, in spite of the fact that a lot of people have also fallen through the net. However, your reaction in the midst of the storm will contribute to the welfare of your business, members of staff mentally and physically too. This is where your true leadership qualities will come to light and should structure your decision making process.
Remaining calm does not mean faking it, but rather being transparent. It would probably appear more realistic if you let your workers know you are concerned yourself without losing control than making light of it and therefore burying your head in the sand, or displaying an attitude of unconcern. It’s better to take the attitude that this change is happening with me, rather than to me.
This should help improve business performance at a time when staff morale could be at an all-time low if the situation is not handled professionally and a show of empathy and communication is not displayed appropriately. Strong leadership displaying confidence yet transparency is key.
Business Health Check. This is a good time to have a business reality check and take stock of where your business is at the moment. How does pandemic affect your business in the current situation and future going forward? And most importantly, where do you want it to be in the future? A business Valuation, Performance and Health Check carried out by one of our Business Advisors is designed to help you shed light and get you to achieve the performance and value that you want.
These sessions will also offer suggestions for business improvement and modelling, or re-modelling. It is also an opportunity to see if your business goals align with your business objectives. If this is not the case, you may even find out that you need to manoeuvre your business in a different direction or bring about a change in your products or services.
The sooner you come to terms with it and bring about the changes, the better for your business. You do need to ask the question about the relevance of your product or service in the short to long term. You may even pivot to something temporary based on your current core competency.
A typical example is Rolls-Royce and BAE making ventilators. These changes need to be communicated with facts, sensitivity and focus on the solutions as much as possible with clarity, purpose, and direction especially with those who will be most affected.
Help customers gain regain trust and confidence in your product or service. Simple things like observing social distancing, observing good hygiene practice and things that the client or customer can see and acknowledge that you take them and their health serious is important. If you are a retail outlet or restaurant or in the hospitality industry, customers need to be confident to use your service.
For example, some shops like Aldi have a red and green light in front of their shops indicating when you can come in or not. They have obvious hygiene points with sanitisers and kitchen towels available to customers, etc. In a subtle way, they are showing they care for the client, building confidence in the venue and the brand. In the same way, your staff, clients, customers and visitors must know that they are safe in your work environment.
Offering a client the opportunity to have an online meeting with you where possible, instead of in person is a sign of building trust. In all of these acts, it’s important that the perceived value of what you do for them remains the same or better. You can get more info on this from the government’s guides on reopening businesses.
As a business, you also need to look within and see where you may need help yourself. Be it from the government or other sources if you are struggling. Business mentoring and coaching or sitting down with a business advisor could be a good idea. Entrepreneurs often take care of everyone else but themselves. Take care of your mental health. If you collapse and you are a micro business, the business collapses. The same is true of some small businesses where a lot depends on the owner. Working from home is not the same as taking a break.
If you are not sure or in doubt about making your business sustainable in these uncertain times, seek professional business advice, which is what our Business Advisors are for. Ignore the fake news going around which is often the case in uncertainty. Go for objective and professional advice.
If you can identify with any of the 5 tips and require further insight into key areas to help your company through this challenging economic time please feel free to call and speak to an RBSS Business Advisor on 033 33 55 1696 or drop us an email on the link below. We provide real business solutions for start-ups and existing micro and small businesses.
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