With a worldwide pandemic on our hands, we are facing tough and uncertain times ahead. While health is our primary concern, what effect will this have on Australia’s small business economy?
Back in 2008, the GFC wreaked havoc on many small businesses throughout Australia. Erratic consumer spending, global economies affecting how markets moved and increased borrowing all led to declining sales, financial pressure and some small businesses closing the doors.
This time we can play it differently.
With COVID-19 here, we have the opportunity, to prepare ourselves for what may be coming, another event similar to what occurred back in 2008. Now is the time to plan and take action. Now is the time to create contingencies so we can survive, if not thrive, into the future.
In my 12 Step Guide to Surviving & Thriving through COVID-19, I share with you how to at least prepare yourself and “what to do next” for the next chapter:
- Construct a plan: This one is pretty straight forward. Planning well helps with any adverse situation. Map out a plan that you will execute over the next six months. Consider cashflows, how sales may be affected, what you will need to do in terms of your workforce, how your supply chain will operate and so on. Look at the good and worse case scenarios and layout a contingency plan for each situation. Putting your head in the sand or hoping for the best is NOT a GOOD strategy.
- Focus on your customers first: With all the hype, its easy to freak out over the doom & gloom and worry about money. Make sure the people that buy your stuff are looked after first. Look at what you can do to serve them better. How can we IMPROVE our customer service? What can we be doing to offer MORE VALUE at this time? These are the people that will get you through, don’t neglect them like your gym membership.
- Go lean: This is important. Let’s REDUCE our outgoings and get as lean as we can on cash. Take your cash flow summary and grab a pen. Start scoring out things that you can do without over the next six months. The idea here is to reduce ALL expenses so that you can run as lean as possible. If it doesn’t make you money, get rid of it.
- Save Cash/Sell Assets: Now I’m not implying you sell your house here, my point is that you build a cash reserve if possible. You are going to need a level of fluidity in cash, meaning some “rainy day” money stored in case your revenue slows down. In some cases, you may not have access to a significant sum of cash, so look at ways to get it. Perhaps sell some assets you aren’t using right now (i.e. a vehicle, some equipment etc) The point – build a cash reserve to get you through the rough times.
- Stay Focused: It’s easy for us to get caught up in the hype of this thing. Those of you that stay focused will remain the most resilient. My advice here is to block out the noise and focus on your business. Follow the trends and stay informed on the Governments and economy’s actions, but in most part, keep looking ahead and steering YOUR ship. It’s also important to remind yourself of WHY you run your business. What’s your reason? What’s the WHY? This will act as a grounding point for you and your business.
- Continue marketing: When markets get quiet, most people stop marketing. Let’s ramp it up instead. Look at your current budgets and decide on your best lead source, then re-allocate funds to maximise that channel. Look for new and innovative ways to get your name out there. If you disappear for fear of “saving” all your money, you’ll disappear out of your customer’s minds too.
- Embrace leadership: You are the fearless leader of your business. Your team look up to you. Now its time to become the leader you are and steer the ship into the unknown. When times are tough, people seek someone to turn to, to look up to for guidance. This is the time to lead from the front and provide support, coaching and compassion to those that need it.
- Prepare for remote work: Its fair to say that people you know will contract COVID-19. It’s going to happen, eventually. But when preparing your plan (see point 1), allow for how your workforce will be able to work from home. If they are away for 14 days, how can they continue to help run the business from the comfort of their living room? Ask, what do I need to make this happen? Computers? Cloud-based systems? Re-directed phone numbers? Nows the time to map this out.
- Communicate well: with everyone. Period. More often than not, people become anxious, worried, angry when they don’t communicate effectively. Look at how YOU communicate with your team and customers and find a way to do it more effectively and more frequently. This could be for updates, product information, workforce changes etc. Don’t leave anybody in the dark.
- Remain Flexible: This is essential for business even when we’re NOT in the midst of a global pandemic, so we need it now more than ever. We need to accept that sales may drop, employees may get sick, markets may crash (add in any other chaos-based scenario here). If we are well prepared and remain flexible in our approach to serving our customers, then we can zig and zag as needed to remain to trade. Indecisiveness causes accidents, so make the hard decisions (based on your plan) and keep on moving forward.
- Look after yourself: We all know that stress, lack of sleep, malnutrition, no exercise and worry causes havoc on the entrepreneur’s body and mind. Bad decisions are usually the result. That’s why its important to look after yourself over this time. Get some rest, focus on the facts, eat well and continue with your morning routines. This will keep you in a prime state to weather any storm.
12.The Silver Lining: Yes, there is one! Just like the GFC, this will pass. Your ability to plan, execute well and remain flexible will determine how well you survive or thrive throughout the coming months. You got this!!
As a Business Coach, I love helping to inspire and educate business owners so that they reach their full potential. If you would like to “tap into” your businesses potential, or would simply like to chat to me, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org