Communicate, communicate, communicate; with your staff, your suppliers (yes that includes your bank) and your clients. This cannot be stressed enough.
It is common in times of high uncertainty that fear and increased levels of confusion has individuals feeling insecure about their future. As a business leader your job is to lead. Communicate to your internal and external team that you are doing your best for them and the business. Reassure them you want them to be a part of a successful future.
This leads to me to my second point.
It is all well and good to be an optimist (and you should be. Despite what the media might like to have you believe, it is not the end of the world). However, wishing and hoping that the stars are in the right place and the planets align for a particular thing to happen is not an ideal approach nor practical at this time.
Taking a measured approach and communicating both the worst- and best-case -scenarios along with a middle road outcome is probably your wisest route to take.
Tell your staff, clients, bank and suppliers what you believe will realistically happen in the short term, midterm and post crisis. Paint a vision of your turnaround post crisis and take your team with you.
Externally, Smash your socials. Market to your existing customers via email and phone your top 20 clients. Let them know how much you value their custom and support, especially during this stressful time, and remember to share the love and support back to them as well. Support goes both ways.
Internally continue to speak about your business vision. Paint a picture of a rebuilding phase and a bright future once this crisis as passed.
This is not a time to stop your Marketing. When all this is over it is the businesses that continued to put a constant and consistent message out to the marketplace, backed by a solid product or service, that will win by gaining market-share on the other side.
You have probably started to reduce all non-discretionary spending. Now is the time to talk to your landlord, the bank and suppliers too. If you are like most businesses’ wages are probably your biggest expense.
What to do? Do you let them all go, re-mortgage the house, get a bank loan or declare bankruptcy? Remember your staff are on your side and want your business to survive just as much as you do.
Including your staff in the decision-making process around how to keep your business alive, and how to reduce your biggest expense – wages, may just surprise you.
One of our clients did this and found that a few were willing to take leave without pay and others reduced their hours. An older employee was willing to not only bring forward his retirement but to be patient on his final package. There is even talk of employee shareholding.
What an Opportunity!
Necessity is the mother of invention. Look for opportunities. Staff need to work from home? Now is the time to develop your systems and processes to make that happen – post crisis you will be able to offer a more flexible work place and be more appealing as a valuable employer.
Can’t serve meals as normal – offer takeaway and work on making a different and wow experience than other takeaway services. Once this crisis passes – and it will – you will have a whole new market to service and will have gained market-share.
The Luxury of Time
On how many occasions have we wished for more time. While not under the best conditions we now have it. Now is the perfect time to plan for your turnaround, prepare your post crisis launch and work on (not in) your business. Lastly,
Self-care and your team’s health are paramount at this time. Do what ever it takes to keep yours and your teams physical and mental health in check. Ask the question ‘are you OK?’ and ask your team what is needed for everyone to stay healthy – and even thrive – in this difficult time.