Many business owners and entrepreneurs are worried about the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and... they should be. This is not about pushing more doom and gloom, but ensuring that we talk to each other about these key questions: What do we do now? How do we stay afloat? What should we focus on?
Papa and Hetty Boachie-Yiadom, founders of P&H boutique
The first thing we need to do is take a deep breath and calm down. This way we can accept that we can only control the controllable and approach our businesses pragmatically with a level head.
So, what are these controllables?
The world is not the same, however, business has not changed. You still need to provide solutions to your customers to stay relevant and ensure sustainability. This may mean a deviation is required from your standard product or service offering.
Now is the time to approach your bank in a language only they will understand. If you have kept your credit lines in good-standing you are at an advantage to ask for short term credit. Credit that can see you through the next 90 days. In a language, they will understand means e.g. financial statements, management accounts, tax clearance certificates etc.
Whether your business focuses on B2B or B2C, it is crucial that you strategise on how you can better understand what is most important to them in this changing world. What problem can you help them solve better than anyone else?
Your job as an entrepreneur, unfortunately, is to do the thinking, no one else will do it for you. This may mean ensuring you get to see (Skype, phone) your top 5/10 most valuable clients to check-in and converse with the purpose of understanding what is most important to them now and how you can better assist them.
Now is not the time to entertain distractions as there is too much at stake. Don't allow the whirlwind of social media to distract you. Rather utilise social media to pick up new trends, learn new skills, and find gaps in the market. YouTube has a plethora of content that can allow for this. In your downtime, rather switch-off by watching positive re-enforcement such as Friends.
You may have done extensive research to understand how to protect yourself and the wider South African community as a whole. Arming yourself with accurate information and knowledge is the best way to fighting off anxiety. But don't take it for granted that your staff have done the same. There is a ton of fake news floating through the system that at times is difficult to tell fact from fiction.
Also, understand that your staff are your representatives to your customer. As such it is your responsibility to ensure that they are armed with the right knowledge. Make it easy for them to practice good hygiene. Communicate with them on what the best practices are to protect themselves and others. If everyone is on the same page your customers will feel more at ease and know that your company is one that they can trust.
This may seem like a strange one considering the need for social distancing. However, you can reach out to other entrepreneurs via digital networking by creating content on the experience that you are going through and seeking input from other entrepreneurs. Engage in digital discussions with other entrepreneurs.
There are ideas and solutions others may be utilising in industries that are completely different from yours that ignite the correct thinking that causes a small change in the way you do business that can ultimately make a world of difference.
The most important skill for any entrepreneur is the ability to sell. Your customer will still be the best funder of your businesses and making sure they feel that what we have to offer to them justifies them giving you their scarce cash during this time will test your selling ability. Focus on getting this right and you have a chance of seeing-through this crisis.
Now is not the time to allow the ego to get in the way. Revenue and cost lines will need to be watched closely and unfortunately, if they trend in the wrong direction, quick but difficult decisions will need to be made.
Some decisions may be along the lines of lowering the number of staff on your payroll, engaging landlords now on exercising some leeway on rentals, legally exiting contracts, and cutting off cheap clients (those that refuse to pay for the value they demand). It is critical to ensure you make decisions that are best for your business and not for your ego.
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