Tip Number 1 was: Don’t despair. Take action. However, during a crisis, taking action on your own is tough. You will not be the only one who is worried and even frightened about the future and these reactions are perfectly natural, but if you are going to survive and rebuild for the future, you need to be optimistic and focused on actions. You cannot do that on your own.
In a crisis like Covid-19, everyone is affected, and no-one really knows what the future holds. Your staff will be looking to you as the business owner to show leadership and to offer them guidance. Your customers will want to know whether you can still supply them, and your supplies will want to know whether you are still going to buy from them.
Talk to your staff, customers and suppliers about your challenges and work together to come up with solutions that benefit everyone. They may have some ideas you have not thought about.
Read the newspaper, listen to the radio, monitor reputable websites and Facebook pages, and talk to other business owners, so you hear about any help that is being made available by Government or donor funded programmes. The chamber of commerce and business associations exist to help businesses, so contact them and find out what help they are offering. You could even start your own self-help support group of similar businesses.
Pride or a belief that no-one will understand your problems can sometimes get in the way, but you must swallow your pride and ask for help. You will certainly need someone to talk to, someone to share ideas with, and someone to seek advice from. If you need more expert advice than your family and friends can provide, use a professional business advisor.
Business advisors have seen many examples of businesses, good and bad, and precisely because they outsiders and do not have prior knowledge of your business, they can be objective and provide impartial advice on the strengths and weakness of the business and identify opportunities and threats you may not have noticed.
All businesses will have financial worries at the moment. Accountants are financial advisors. They can help you manage your cashflow and talk to your bank about restructuring loans. If you do not have an accountant, do not ignore your financial situation. Take basic financial information to your bank and ask what they can do to help you. Go with a trusted friend or family member who will support you.
Business advisors can help you see the situation more clearly, and help you make simple plans and take practical steps to survive. They keep everything you tell them confidential. You do not have to take their advice, but it is always worth listening to.
We are encouraging all business owners to get the advice they need to take action to survive, and so we are so 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 3 – look after your people and tell them what is happening.