Many analysts were hoping for a “V” shaped bounce back for our economy after the Coronavirus outbreak, but these hopes may be fading. Earlier this week the Office of National Statistics announced a meagre growth of 1.8% for May. A lot less than the 5.5% expected by Reuters.
It is times like these that businesses can sometimes react by standing still, weather the storm and hope it will be okay. But is this always the correct response?
In this article we explore what are called the four stages of this major outbreak – the 4 R’s and what you should be doing next.
In mid-March as the reality of the Covid-19 outbreak was sinking in, we were all in a bit of a shock. Then the Prime Minister announced the lockdown and literally overnight businesses were forced to close and the realisation of a deeper problem began to sink in. Those of us who could work at home started doing so but many businesses lost orders, projects were paused, and doors were shut.
Businesses began to respond from early April as Government help started coming in. Employees were put on furlough, local councils gave holidays on payments of rates, there was access to cheap loans mainly via Bounce Back Loans and the tax man said you did not have to pay them for a while. Some business were trading albeit in a much restricted way.
We have now had weeks and months of financial assistance from the Government, the shops and businesses are beginning to open and we are adjusting to the “new normal”. There is some sign of recovery and optimism.
However, there is a realisation that the help we received earlier will not last forever. The Chancellor confirmed last week that the furlough scheme is ending in October. We need to get back to work!
To help with this the Chancellor made more announcements in his “mini budget”, directing help towards the hospitality sectors and helping young people to get onto the job ladder or enhance their skills. If you missed this have a look at our Blog on the website.
He also announced bonuses for retaining the jobs of those employees who have been furloughed. We have seen some clients bringing their people back to work because the “flexible furlough” scheme allows employees to return to work part time, but others who have not made any changes yet.
But this is just the beginning of the recovery and not the end. We have a short window of opportunity to prepare for what is going to be a different world. Now is the time to think about your business and how it will not just survive this crisis, but how will it thrive.
As a business you need to avoid “back to normal” thinking and look for the “next normal”.
Rebuilding after Covid-19 should not mean going back to how things were. Rebuilding should focus on long-term planning that helps you come back stronger. Think of it as almost a restart, this would be a great opportunity to reflect and think what you could do differently so that you are a more resilient business going forward.
To Keep Your Balance, You Must Keep Moving – Albert Einstein
So here we highlight our 5 Crucial Steps that you simply must carry out now to keep moving:
Revisit your Business and Personal Goals
Have you written down somewhere your business and personal goals? No, then this is your perfect opportunity to not just think about them but physically write them down. Also, set out a plan as to how to achieve them.
Remember your plans need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Ambitious (some say Achievable), Relevant, with a Timeframe).
If you already have them written down, then when was the last time you revisited them and checked on the progress? Do it now! And share them with us – if we know what they are then we can help you achieve them.
Manage your cash flow
We know we keep mentioning this at every opportunity, but good cash-flow management is vital to the survival of your business. Afterall it is the main reason most businesses fail in the early years.
You need to have put together a plan for 3 months and a rolling plan for up to 12 months. Have you done some scenario planning? Cash or access to cash will play a pivotal part in you achieving your goals and ensure the success of your business.
Talk to us if you need help with cashflow or scenario planning – there are tools available to assist and then monitor.
Adopt a new way of working and new technology
Before Covid-19 there was already a sense that the world was changing.
The high street as we knew it from years gone by were disappearing. During this current crisis, online shopping has been booming and our buying habits are changing.
Have you thought about how you can make better use of the internet? Can you move sales online and open your business to a wider customer base and a wider geographical area? When was the last time your website had a refresh?
What does your finance function look like? Is it still on spreadsheets or desktop software? Why are you not on the cloud? Is it time, is it money, is it fear of something new? If you commit to only 1 action then please – move your accounting software to the cloud and use the technology that is available to give you real time, accurate financial information that will enable you to make informed decisions. It also enables us to help you make those informed decisions – forecasting, getting paid quicker, accessing finance and much more. Take control of your data!
Strengthen your relationships
Relationships have always been important and are still are now, if not even more important. We all realise the importance of good strong relationships. We have helped each other in many ways and without hesitation. Think about your existing relationships with your customers, suppliers, and your workforce.
When was the last time you thanked all these very important people? We are not suggesting a weekly applause like we did for our NHS but there will be some small gestures you can think of.
Think about any new relationships you want to cultivate, now is the time to start. Go make the first move you never know where it may lead.
Revise your marketing plan
Make sure you maintain your presence – do not run the risk of becoming invisible.
Think about what your customers want to hear right now, adjust your tone accordingly. Revisit what you used to do and ask yourself is that enough. Some form of digital marketing is important.
We have increased our own content in the last four months. Primarily it started as necessity to keep you informed of all the changes. As we move forward it will be about sharing ideas and keeping ahead of the curve so you know you have a partner you can rely on.
Of course, budget may become an issue so think creatively, could you hire an apprentice with all the government support to assist you and deliver some digital content.
Whatever stage you are at please do not feel as though you have to do it on your own. If you would like any help please ask – call or email your relationship director or manager.
If you are not currently a client, we would love to work with you. Call or email Priya in the first instance. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01923224411.