Tip Number 2 was: Don’t be alone – seek help. Unlike a local disaster like a cyclone this current disaster is affecting the whole world and most business owners will be facing the same challenges.
While life is tough now, there will come a time when the disaster passes, and life begins to return to normal – it is already beginning in some countries. When that happens, you will need the support of the people who supported you before the virus.
The first group of people to think about are your staff – the team that helps you run your business. This group includes part-time staff, casual workers, volunteers. You might not be able to afford to continue to employ them at the moment but make sure you find out what assistance there is – many countries have schemes to help with wage costs. Even though your business might be closed your former staff will be wondering about the future and will they get their jobs back. Keep in touch with them and, if you can, meet with them to get their ideas on ways in which you could increase your business even in this current situation. If you take care of them, as best you can, they will always repay your care and consideration at a later date. You could use this opportunity to work with your team to rethink the way your business is developing; take some time to discuss and brainstorm; think about those new ideas that you have always wanted to do but could never find time for!
The second group to think about now are your customers. Now is the time to contact the most regular ones. Let them know you are still thinking of them and take the opportunity to ask for any comments they have which could help you improve your business in the future. Are there any services you can still offer them now? Are there new services or products that you could easily supply? If you have a customer list or data base, take the opportunity to email them or direct them to your Facebook page. Thank them for being a customer and let them know that you are looking forward to serving them again soon. If you are in the tourism business your customers may not be able to return for a long time but by keeping in contact with them, at least they will remember you. Maybe send them a photo to remind them of the good times they had.
The third group pf people to think about are the other people who help your business survive – your suppliers, utilities staff, growers and providers of goods, other businesses you cooperate with, members of the local community that you rely on, taxi and bus drivers, boat drivers, bank manager and accountant. Take this opportunity when you are not so busy to spend time with them, thank them and talk to them. They will also have views and opinions which might help your business in the future.
The final group includes yourself! The majority of Pacific small businesses have a family or wantok connection. Take time out with those closest to you; review and reflect on how well your business has gone over the past few years and then look ahead – try not to dwell on the current crisis! Remember, it will pass! Think ahead two or three years when the crisis has passed; remind yourself why you are in business and what your goals and ambitions are; visualise an exciting future. Use this time to recharge your own batteries. If you are feeling frightened or worried, then it is really important to talk with others. They will help you and you will help them.
We are encouraging all business owners to get the advice they need to take action to survive, and so we are pleased to be able to offer businesses survival advice free of charge through Business Link Pacific, a New Zealand funded programme to help businesses affected by the economic situation created by the virus crisis and TC Harold. Contact me for further details. Also find information on your local Chamber of Commerce and Industry or Business Association website.
Stay safe and take care. Coming next – tip 4 – don’t bury your head in the sand – plan for the future.
Founding partner at Breadfruit Consulting.