Over the last year we have seen our glossary of words increase with descriptions and terminology that has not been in our normal repertoire. Furlough, pandemic, moratoriums – have all become common parlance. And rightly so as respective governments tried quickly to shore up an economy and its businesses that were in freefall. There has been much talk of survival.
But it is now time to move the conversation on as we start to exit lockdowns, hopefully for the last time for the foreseeable future. Supported by an active vaccine programme and reducing infection levels it is now that we should be thinking about recovering, rebuilding and revitalising. Let’s look for the opportunities and rebuild resilient businesses that can and will prosper.
As the first steps are taken for those businesses gearing back up again there are four key areas to look at.
- Property: What is your relationship with your landlord?
- People: Do you have the right skillset, and a pool of new people waiting?
- Marketplace: Look up and down your supply chain.
- Finance: Do you have the cash to get your business back to operation?
Each of these areas requires detailed analysis and clear thinking as it is the combination of these that lead to a business being able to fight back and be stronger. And this should only be done in conjunction with accurate and up to date management information. Looking forward and creating scenarios, modelling the what-ifs and ensuring that you are being completely honest in your thinking is the right way to start this journey.
Governments and funders have solutions for those who are prepared and have a good story to tell. They can help with short term funding and further grants but only if you as the business owners and managers are prepared. Now is the time to develop that close working relationship with your accountants and your bank. If you don’t know who your local banker is then your accountant will. Having your advisors support you at this time is the right choice – not a sign of weakness. And always keep alternative funding sources in mind – asset funding, invoice financing, equity.
Your people may be one of your greatest assets. If they have been on furlough, are they coming back to you? If you have had teams working through the pandemic how are they – exhausted, lonely, struggling? It is unfortunate that the need for robust and quick recovery comes at a time when many have invested lots of energy and time in survival. It is the same teams that need to play again and so every employer is faced with the welfare needs of that team and the challenge of motivating them to our new world. With all that is now to be done, owners and managers need to find time for themselves and be aware of the mental health issues that exist for their teams.
Don’t assume as you turn the lights back on that your supply chain is still relevant and unbroken. The global pandemic has had a profound effect on economies and your suppliers and/or your customers may have been affected. Consider each part of that supply chain and verify supply and demand. Look to alternatives and consider onshoring. Item costs might be cheaper in the Far East but the true cost may be masked in lead times, carriage, minimum orders quantities etc. Look to buying local, supporting your community economy.
The impact of Brexit is still high on the list of issues for businesses and individuals. We must now accept our new reality and move on. Take a longer term view, adapt, find ways and consider the opportunities. Business people are inherently entrepreneurial – exercise that flair to find the solutions.
And don’t forget your landlord if you are a leaseholder. If you owe back rent, or may struggle to pay future rents, then talk to them. Most likely they will react better with a proactive conversation.
So, the key takeaways: the time is now to recognise that Government support is finite and Brexit is here to stay. It is up to the private sector to grasp the challenge of recovery and deliver. Get your management information and your story straight and accurate, talk to your advisors, landlords and your Accountants. And think about your people. Be kind. They may have been through a lot and probably so have you.