With Coronavirus now part of daily discussion most business owners have already asked themselves this question. Some immediate personal adjustments to adopt social distancing, home working or homeschooling have been forced upon us, but what will happen if you don’t take the matter into your own hands and just leave things to the guidance?
If you’re in the toilet paper or sanitiser business, there’s a pretty good chance your company is going to survive, but what if you’re not? What if your normal product or service is no longer in high demand?
Every business leader needs to make some changes and make them now, and we have to remember many changes and new priorities are going to be positive.
The first point of action is not to panic or act rashly, as this will only get in the way of what you need to be doing. While it is completely understandable to be concerned, as a professional your time is better spent getting prepared and then doing the right thing for your specific business.
You need to be clear that the government guidance for companies is biased to addressing peoples health and wellbeing, the guidance does not also address your companies health. You will need to do this!
You will need to filter misinformation delivered to you by less credible sources and at times correct misinformed staff.
You also need to recognise that even if your business qualifies for some of the great support announced by the government, your company will need to get stronger and fitter right now to benefit. To satisfy criteria for some grants and loans you can expect to be asked to prove in some way that your business is affected directly by the Coronavirus, and not just suffering for another reason; you may be asked for copies of items such as business plans, budgets, cash flow forecasts. You may be asked to demonstrate how you will pay it back, and provide security for some loans.
So now is the time to ensure you have a strong grasp of your companies current position and the options available.
- Make sure you have simple tools in place to review your sales pipeline so that you can ascertain which anticipated orders may no longer happen as (or when) you originally envisioned.
- Make sure you have an uncomplicated way to assess the orders and commitments you already have or will secure from the pipeline and establish if they are to be fulfilled as originally planned or sold.
- Ensure that you have fundamental financial information. Will the realistic sales forecasts and projected order fulfilment support your companies ongoing overheads and costs. Will your cash or lending cover these costs.Spending some time right now to review each function of the business can identify what you need to be doing in the ’now’, ‘during’ and ‘recovery’ phases.
- The during and recovery phase may feel like tomorrows problem, but some areas deserve some thought now, for example, you may wish to review the credit you provide to all existing and new clients to increaser control of this risk. You may want to prepare the company management to provide support for staff who are affected by the serious illness or death of a family member, friend or work colleague. You may want to plan for high levels of absence, or recruitment to expand areas of your business to support necessary changes.
As you review the phases for each part of your business you can uncover further positive opportunities such as :
Sales & Marketing
- Reviewing your pipeline and market may reveal that product or market ‘A’ may beabout to experience a dip in sales, but with this positive insight, you may be able to direct marketing energy and sales resource to product or market ‘B’ which is in growth.
- Clients are likely to be unable to complete face to face meeting, so you can get ahead and equip and train your team on video call etiquette…you can increase your presence with focus on PR, advertising, and lifting your profile to let your clients know you are still able to safely support them. At the simplest level be at the front of their mind when we enter the recovery phase.
- Right now, renewed energy can be applied to existing and new products or services, launched and promoted with a new set of perspectives that support the new concerns faced by your clients.
- With potentially less time spent travelling, sales teams may be able to use that time to complete further product training or spend the extra time contributing to new initiatives.
- Reviewing your ‘order book’, the updated pipeline and marketing plans will clarifywhat is now needed and likely to be needed in the phases ahead, and resource canbe adjusted and balanced now rather than later.
- New stronger relationships can be forged with your supply chain to secure ongoingsupply and access to their flexibility and innovation.
If there is downtime or delays decisions can be made if contracts allow to lay staff off or if safe to do so deploy them on related activities that you have never otherwise had time to do.
Financial and business management
- By reviewing the current government and bank-backed schemes and resourcesavailable to help you may be able to address any anticipated stains on cash and staff retention. Improved business management should equip you with the evidence you will need to satisfy the criteria for some grants and funding support (such as interim revised business plan, sales forecasts, cash flow predictions).
- This is an opportunity to review your critical dependencies, address weaknesses such as dependency on specific staff or equipment. Identify your companies overall strengths and weaknesses and use that your advantage.Clients or even further government decisions may force changes to your normal business, and more government guidance will inevitably follow, however, it is very clear that if you do not take matters into your own hands right now the coronavirus is more likely to cause avoidable damage.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, need assistance in any specific area, or are keen to make your businesses stronger, then you can contact others such as a business coach for help in business continuity, contingency planning & other essential matters during these unprecedented times.