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Ideas to help your business survive the Coronavirus; sharing our approach

There’s no doubt businesses are going to be affected by the coronavirus.

I wanted to help our clients, partners and suppliers by putting together the information below.

These are our initial thoughts on what we need to do, and what we are doing, and I would welcome further input from all with regard to developing a best practice approach.

Firstly, assess the situation for your business objectively. Whether you’ve started to plan and implement your plans or not, it’s important to stay calm and consider the current situation in an objective manner. 

The key question: what is the likely impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on your business? You need to stay focused on your business and not the craziness that is happening on the news and social media channels. You need to consider all aspects including the likely impact it will have on your customers, suppliers, operations and finance.  

Do you already have contingency plans in place? If so get them out, dust them off and review and revise them based on the current situation. 

Whether you have a contingency plan or not, below are some of the areas to consider. 

SWOT Analysis 

Undertaking a swot analysis is a good place to start. 

What are your strengths and weaknesses? Look inwardly at each business function, evaluate each aspect and come up with an action plan to, where possible, reduce or eliminate your weaknesses, as well as identifying where you can build and exploit your strengths.  

What are the possible opportunities and threats? Look outwardly and consider the impact now but also the likely impact in the next month, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months and beyond. 

In terms of opportunities think about the services or products you offer, which ones may be needed more, which may be needed less and which ones can be revised to provide a service or product that will be more aligned to the current situation and what your clients and prospects want and need now? What new products or services would make sense at this time?  

This situation can for some businesses become an opportunity. Don’t follow the herd and reduce spending on advertising for example. Instead focus on making the most of this difficult situation by being decisive and taking positive actions where you can now, and as things progress. 

You know what the threat is, but you do need to think beyond COVID-19 to what this means for your business based on the clients you serve and the likely changes in their behaviours.  

Scenario Planning 

Look at best case, medium and worst case scenarios and develop KPIs that trigger new strategic plans to be implemented. 

Identify the possible changes to your business and assess the scale of impact, ensuring your focus is on maintaining the critical susses factors within your organisation. 

Review & Revise Your Business Plan 

The impact will be felt by all businesses and how you review and react to these new circumstances will determine whether you survive, and even thrive. 

Below is a list of some of the key questions you need to be asking, within all business areas, as you review your business plan. 

Accounts / Finance 

  • What’s the current situation?  
  • How much cash and savings do we have in the business? How many months can we continue to operate as we are if revenues change (up or down by various percentages)? 
  • How much debt do we have currently? How do we reduce this debt? Do we need to renegotiate client terms? 
  • How much credit do we have currently? Do we need to renegotiate terms with suppliers? To reduce costs or get extended terms? Open more credit lines? Find lower interest rates on credit? 
  • Look at your cash flow and forecast ahead based on worst, middle and best case scenarios. Remember cash is king.
  • Do we need to cut costs? Where can we cut costs? 
  • How does the situation look? Discuss the situation with your accountant and / or a trusted adviser. Consider speaking to your bank sooner rather than later if you can see possible issues as you move forward.  What’s the current situation?  
  • What insurance do you have in place? Check what you have and whether there are any limitations that would impact your current or new way of working.

Sales & Marketing 

  • What is the likely impact on our revenue and profit for this coming period? 
  • What products or services will our customers want more or less of? 
  • If your business is seasonal, consider if the current situation will change this? 
  • Can we revise our offering to make it more attractive in the current environment? Food deliveries with no contact between customer and delivery person, online delivery of training, seminars and workshops, sanitising of holiday cottages to enable continued bookings, provision of more hand washing facilities, enabling car test drives in vehicles sanitised between test drives, delivery of cars to home for test drives, etc. 
  • Can you stand out from your competitors by adjusting your offering now to suit this current situation? 
  • Can you add new products or services that help your customers survive and thrive in the current situation? Think outside the box and consider what could change the game for your business. What could you offer current clients or what new markets could now need your services or products? 
  • What terms do you now offer customers that come on board with you? Ideally payment up front of course. 

Current clients will be key; look after them, communicate with them and offer them new ways of working with you where appropriate. If you need a face to face meeting, and if it is agreed, go to them. Consider what services clients aren’t taking from you that would be relevant and beneficial for them to take now and in the future. Consider if you can extend your services or revise them to help your customers at this time. 

Don’t cut back on your marketing: you need to be communicating to your current customers to help them and keep them on board and be looking to still grow your business. Of course, communication of new offerings will be crucial. 

HR / people 

For service based businesses people are key and also often the biggest cost. Make sure you look after them and communicate effectively – and make the communication both ways.  

Home working is already starting to happen. Many companies are already testing home working approaches where their employees haven’t worked from home before. All companies need to look into this sooner rather than later. There may be the need to purchase equipment, and test days are a good option to check people can work from home.  

Use of IT to enable communication between and within teams is important and it will be useful to consider how often and when team catch ups would be appropriate.  

This situation may actually improve productivity and efficient if you set up the systems now and think through the best communication schedules and protocols. 

Provide positive leadership and ensure your people go with you on what might be a different and potentially difficult journey. 

Salary increases and bonuses may need to be delayed and recruitment of new personnel may also need to be considered even more carefully than usual. If sales slow, the opportunity for employees to take a holiday during the quiet period if feasible is a good option for your business and your employees. 

Consider the effects of everyone working from home. Make sure you can pick up phone calls to your business phone line, if you get mail consider how this will be collected, etc. 

Operations 

Customer Service, Delivery, Purchasing, Raw Material Supply, Production / manufacturing, Stock, IT – this area of your business will most likely need to make big adjustments. 

Consider the impact on each customer and communicate with them as needed and in a positive manner. It makes sense for customer meetings to be held via conference call or video hangout facilities like Skype, Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams, etc. If you have Microsoft Office365 it makes sense to use Microsoft Teams for internal and external communication; we use it and it works well with no additional cost to you as it’s part of your package. 

Delivery of products and services can be done electronically where appropriate, and delivery of physical products can be adjusted to ensure minimal / minimised contact. 

Supply of raw materials from some countries has already started to slow significantly. If you’ve got suppliers in China, you’ll know doubt be feeling the impact. If possible, identifying a second source of raw materials may be crucial as well as looking at speeding up of deliveries where feasible. Purchasing can also help with identification of new suppliers for new products too. 

Production and manufacturing will need to potentially adjust working practices to cope with erratic supply of raw materials and a need for fast turnaround times when raw materials are available.  

Flexible working will be required across a range of business functions, but manufacturing, customer service and delivery will certainly need to review processes and ensure efficient production and distribution.  

Summary

Taking the time to review your business now will help you to survive and thrive at this difficult time. Look for the small, smart wins across your business and those small wins will all add up and make a difference, not just now but as you move forward too. 

The key is to keep calm and stay positive; communicate and provide leadership to employees, customers and suppliers. 

Undertaking this type of review will not only help you survive, it will also provide you with a more robust business as you move forward. 

If you have any questions or would like any help reviewing your business, then please do get in touch. 

Also, please do get in touch if you have positive input as I’m ready to update the blog to cover more tips.

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