Although no crisis is new, COVID-19 is exceptional by any standard. It has had an unprecedented impact on the global economy. In the early days, Forbes Magazine predicted that it would shave $200 billion from the global economy. But as the virus continues to hit, experts have reviewed the figure to more than $8 Trillion. Businesses are adapting to the new norm. Many leaders are talking about business recovery in a drastically changed world economy.
Without a doubt, COVID-19 has taken a toll on many businesses in New Zealand. Although some seem to be weathering the storm well, many have experienced damage that will affect them for a long time. We spoke to Richard Ashby of Gilligan Shepard about this and his message was clear. Entrepreneurs must find practical ways to counter the dry revenue pipes, staff insecurities, disrupted supply chains and adapt to the new normal. Here are some of the actions you can take.
Reach out to qualified and trusted professionals for help
Many business leaders opine that preparation is key to managing a crisis. In fact, most consider crisis management to be part of their role. However, many were unprepared for a crisis of this magnitude. There’s been a simultaneous disruption of demand, supply chains, operations, and human resource. Business recovery seems like an uphill task. But, Richard suggests that the key to surviving this is to be aware of where and how you can get help. He says, “One key message is for all businesses to be aware of exactly what support is out there, to assist them through these trying times.”
You should reach out to professionals such as bankers and financial advisors, lawyers, IT consultants tax consultants and many more. Professionals will provide valuable information and tips to help you mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and fast track business recovery.
Some have gone ahead and already prepared special platforms for COVID-19 help. Richard’s firm has taken this bold step. He says “We have a special section of our website dedicated to Covid-19 related advice and have to date prepared a number of Zoom panel advice sessions covering a number of Covid-19 related issues such as the new tax relief measures, corporate insolvency, tenant/landlord lease implications and we will cover both the 2020 Budget and workplace psychology themes. We are certainly happy to take calls or enquiries from anyone needing assistance during this period.
Get communication right
Setting up a website dedicated to COVID-19 is one great way to communicate. Whenever you communicate, share information that is, factual, frequent, consistent and current. This assures your clients and staff of the business’ recovery.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020, people trust information coming from businesses more than they trust the media or Government. So, get the communication right, and use it as a tool to assure stakeholders that you have taken steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and fast track business recovery.
Engage your crisis continuity plan to enable business recovery
Well-run businesses have crisis continuity plans. At least most of them have something on paper. And they test, or frequently review, the plans. But nothing tests your preparedness quite like reality. In light of the effects of COVID-19 on business, new partnerships have been formed and business models re-organized to fast track business recovery.
You should engage your continuity plan and tailor it to the unique challenges the pandemic presents to you.
This sound like a spanner thrown into your works and plans for 2020. But it’s not entirely a bad thing for the business. As Richard puts it “the forced lockdown has in some ways actually been positive for our clients, as they have actually been able to take a breath, undertake some serious navel-gazing, and have had to explore new ways of reinventing the business to survive the new normal.”
Use scenario analysis
During the lockdown, keeping the businesses running was certainly an uphill task since there was almost nil activity. Fortunately, it lasted for only a couple of weeks and we achieved what we were hoping for – to cut the spread. Many Kiwis are now looking forward to a resumption of some kind of normalcy and business recovery. But uncertainty is rife. Many people are asking: What happens next? What are the best- and worst-case scenarios? Can the business cope?
These are critical questions you must seek answers. As Richard says about their clients “Certainly if they rely on customer traffic through their doors, how will the social distancing requirements impact on their potential revenue streams?”
It may be hard for you, the entrepreneur, to predict how the business will respond to the new normal. However, you can reach out to experts to create scenarios and analyse the best ways for your business to recover.
To conclude, be aware of what support is out there
These practical actions will help you to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and fast track business recovery. But the effects of COVID-19 on business could last for years.
One thing we can assure you is that you are not alone. There’s plenty of help out there. The most practical thing you can do right now is to know the right kind of help and reach out.
As Richard puts it, “For some, the wage subsidies have been a lifeline, allowing them to retain their valuable team members during this unprecedented period.”
So, reach out to a financial advisor and consider the support that’s available.