Tip Number 5 was: Be prepared to do things differently.
My final tip in this brief series is just to remind you that everyone has been affected by the current Covid 19 disaster. It is true that any disaster affects people in different ways, but no-one is left untouched. Life has changed for all. This presents a number of opportunities.
During a disaster we are forced out of our comfort zone, often reluctantly, but nevertheless we have to do things differently. We have learned to wash our hands more often, not to touch our faces, stay 2 metres away from others, use technology to communicate widely and stay away from crowds. Behaviours have changed quickly.
Look at your business through the same lense – all SME business owners will have to make changes to the way you do business in the future. The opportunity here is that it is everyone – not just one or two. Take advantage of this forced change to create a new normal for your business.
Sit down now with your team and brainstorm all those things you have talked about doing but have never done – you may have ideas for new products or services or for new ways of communicating with customers, suppliers and staff. You might want to rearrange your office or shop or factory. You might want to learn how to make better use of online communication tools like zoom or skype or develop your knowledge of social media and how it could help your business.
Because everyone has been affected by Covid 19 it is OK to talk about the last few weeks and discuss your hopes and fears. People have been brought together by sharing the common experience of the disaster. All SMEs will face challenges for months to come so take the opportunity to share with others. Perhaps you can share resources like machinery, vehicles and buildings; consider joint teams so that staff can be fully employed; team up with others to share the costs of marketing products and services; maybe provide better services to customers by collaborating with others; you might even create a whole new business.
Finally, now is the time to make sure you have a plan in place for when the next disaster strikes. Get your staff together and put a plan in place. Practice it and encourage staff to have a plan for their own families and communities. Make a list of the lessons you have learned this time and think about how you are going to avoid the same problems happening again. Seek help from your local Chamber of Commerce or business organisation. Ask your customers for their views.
At this stage you have two main goals – to make sure you come out of this crisis in the best way possible and to be better prepared for when the next crisis hits. Everybody is in the same position – use this amazing opportunity to help others and to get other people to help you.
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. Watch out for a new series aimed at small businesses coming in a few weeks.
Breadfruit Consulting specialises in ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis. As a registered Business Advice Service Provider with the Business Link Pacific programme Breadfruit Consulting can offer eligible businesses up 100% fee subsidy. Contact us for more information.