WHAT YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS TO DO TO SURVIVE CORONAVIRUS
Key information for your business during the Coronavirus Pandemic
When I speak with Directors and business owners about threats to their business, we normally discuss cyber-crime, fires and even terrorism. But a pandemic is such a rare occurrence that many business owners brush it aside as ‘it will never happen to me’. Coronavirus is very real and we are on a long path of uncertainty, that will no doubt take up the rest of this year and a large part of next year too, as the country has to find its feet again. We only have to look at Italy and France to see how big an impact it is having on lives and livelihoods. As business owners you have worked hard to get your business where it is today. You have families, employees and clients and I want to give you as much information as possible to give you and your business a fighting chance to come out on top, so here are my top 10 things that you need to consider. Now.
1. Identify the most critical areas of your business What key equipment, processes, technology and activities do you need to operate. Remember, you may not be able to work at full capacity, so start working out what your minimum level of activity looks like for these critical areas. Finding this out now will help you focus your efforts and resources on the most important parts of your business. Top Tip: Ask yourself what you can do differently. This could be diverting phones to mobiles to enable home working or providing everyone with laptops. 2. How long can you be out of action for before alarm bells ring This is normally something I work with clients on over a matter of weeks, but simply put, if you couldn't operate at all, how long would it be before it adversely impacts your clients? It could be hours, days, weeks or even months. Understanding this will help you forecast things like finance, resources and you will be able to communicate better with key stakeholders and manage expectations. It also helps you stop doing non-urgent work and put all your resources into keeping your business afloat. 3. What are the lowest resource levels your business can tolerate and for how long? You need to identify how many people you really need to do the minimum amount of work. For example, do you really need three people to do admin and finance, or could one person be enough in this particular emergency situation. Top tip: You hired your employees to do a certain job, but they may have skills from previous employment that you can tap into and this can really help you in uncertain times. 4. Identify who your key employees are Although everyone is important, there are some employees that have responsibilities or they may have key information you need to enable you to operate. For example, if you only have one signatory for finance, think about adding another one now. Plan now for what you will do if employees have to self-isolate or are admitted to hospital and how you will communicate this with the rest of your team. 5. Communicate Both your employees and your clients want to know what your plans are and many want to know what they can do to help you. Keep your employees updated on your plans so they are aware of what is expected of them and update your clients so you can provide that extra level of service. Top tip: If it feels like you’re over doing it with the communications, you're probably doing it right! Keep communicating and updating. 6. In the office If you work in an office environment, you may be in a multi-occupancy building, a co-working space or you have your own premises. There are many things you need to consider at this time for these areas. If you can, look at sitting at least 2m away from anyone else. If you are lucky enough to have more than one floor in your building, split your teams up. If many people have to self-isolate and have spread the virus on one floor, you will still have employees from different departments as back up rather than potentially taking out a whole department. Other tips for the office include:
Limit travel on public transport to and from the office
Reduce visits to client premises and opt for video or phone calls only
Increase the cleaning in your office. This is vital. Make sure all handles – don’t forget the fridges - toilets, sinks, desks and keyboards have a higher level of cleaning to what you would do normally.
Replace cleaning sponges often and use antibacterial washing liquid
Don’t use a tea-towel for everyone to share
Avoid lunch buffets or any shared food – including plates of open biscuits
Make your own drinks
7. Start writing down your plans down now When you’re writing down what you will do, make sure you cascade your plans to your employees and most importantly carry out a stress test. Do what your plan says and see what needs to be changed now as it may be difficult to do in a few weeks or months’ time. Consider contingency plans for ill health and as much as it is a taboo, you need a plan in place for the death of a key shareholder, owner or director. You need to know if these key people have wills, what provisions are in the company articles and what your succession plans are. 8. Keep an eye out on what else is going on Right now, whilst everyone is getting to grips with the biggest cultural shift in both our working and home lives since the second world war, there are others who are looking at what they can take from you. Cybercrime, phishing scams and thefts from empty buildings could damage your business whilst you are trying to keep going. Top tip: If you have cctv, get it linked up to a mobile app or laptop so you can monitor and remind everyone to be mindful of fake emails. 9. What can you do differently? Whilst you may not be able to carry out the functions of your core business activities. What else could you do? A business coach could offer services to those who are struggling with self-isolation. Interior designers could turn their heads to home office design via video calls. Thinking outside the box and getting ideas together now will help you if you need to pivot later. 10. The road to recovery At this present moment the impact to your business is unknown. However once the worst is over, you will need to look at recovering and picking yourself up. You might want to consider now whether you will need help from an agency to deal with a back log and how long you think that will be. Financially, you might want to speak with your accountant and speak to an insurance provider to understand what you are and are not covered for. Phew! There is a lot of information there and whilst I would normally work with a client for six months on this, you have far less time to get your plans into action. I sincerely hope you don’t need to enact your plans, but if you do, I am right here to help you find your way, just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org Please consider your fellow business owners and help each other and most importantly WASH YOUR HANDS! I wish you all well and hope that you and your families remain safe and healthy. Linda Director Improving Resilience 07963 784778