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COVID-19: Advice for businesses

March 12 2020 by Gayatri Wood

Wow’s co-founders, Paul Bulpitt and Peter Czapp share their thoughts on how your business can best operate in the face of the current challenges posed by COVID-19.

Looking after your team

Working from home is now the norm. The technology to be able to do this has been available for a while now (we’ve been using Google Docs, Hangouts and Slack for years). The next challenge is how to look after their team without face-to-face contact.

Practical things that you can do include: 

  • Make sure that everyone is setup properly to work from home. Working on a laptop, with a small screen, whilst sat on a wooden chair is ok for one day, but not for several weeks. It’s important that everyone has the right kit to work comfortably at home.
  • Instigate a ‘buddy system’ that ensures that no one has a day without human contact.
  • Hold online social events, quizes, setup special interest groups to replicate some of the social interaction that normally goes on in an office. Kahoot is a great tool for this.
  • Have regular check-ins with the team to see how they’re coping with the changes.
  • Encourage the team to take regular breaks, get fresh air, and finish at sensible times each day, resisting the temptation to keep the laptop on whilst eating dinner.
  • Consider surveying the team to check on morale, and what else they need to be able to work effectively. Tools like Officevibe will help with this.
Looking after yourself

People will be looking to you to lead them through the current challenges, so it’s important that you remain calm, positive and decisive. Looking after yourself is key to this, so you’re in the best physical and mental shape possible.

Practical things that you can do include: 

  • Get some sleep. It’s the best thing for you, as you’ll see if you watch this video (Matthew Walker has written a book about this too).
  • Limit social media and watching the news. You definitely need to stay informed, but you can do that in three 15-minute sessions spread across the day, rather than being glued to your phone all day.
  • Write down what you’re grateful for each day. This will help you focus on the many blessings you have, rather than worrying about the future.
  • Call someone out of the blue to check up on them. This will not only make them feel better, but will make you feel better too.
  • Be kind to yourself, and to others. We’re living in unprecedented times and there’s no rule book for how to handle this. This will pass eventually. In the meantime, let’s all work together to get through this.
Mitigating risk

The obvious risks are around reduced demand from customers. Still, there might also be risks associated with delivering your product or service, either due to your own team not being able to work, or issues with your supply chain. In these situations, planning is vital. The more you plan ahead, the better shape you’ll be in.  

Practical things that you can do include: 

  • Complete a full risk assessment of your business, looking at various scenarios and what action you’d take in each case, e.g. what would happen if you lost your largest client or if a large chunk of your debtor book remained unpaid? 
  • Apply for funding now if you think you’ll need it further down the line. An overdraft facility may be invaluable. It’s better to have something in place early so you can calmly plan and make decisions. Further advice on this can be found in Wow’s COVID-19 Support Hub.
  • How could you repackage or reprice your offering to make it more attractive to customers? Could you take one large project and repackage it as several smaller ones, to make it easier for clients to say yes?
  • If you service a group of customers that have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19, think about how can you reposition your business to service a different group of customers. 
Getting closer to your customers

Now is the time to be talking to your customers. How has their business been affected? What are their current challenges, and how can you help them solve them? The more you understand about their thinking, the better able you’ll be to help them. 

Practical things that you can do include: 

  • Think about what you can do to stimulate demand amongst your clients. Get the key members of your team together to brainstorm this.
  • If appropriate, divide your clients up between your team and set targets for phone calls to make each day. 
  • Track the number of meaningful conversations that you’re having and what’s coming out of them.
  • Organise an online webinar tackling a hot topic for your clients right now.
  • Invite a small groups of clients (around 6-8) to take part in an online video call discussing a topic you know will be valuable to them. 
Looking for opportunities

Every challenge brings opportunities. Often, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the opportunities. Since 2004, we’ve worked with hundreds of businesses and guided them through the good times and the bad. The one thing we’ve seen time and time again is that those businesses that look for opportunities find them. Those with closed mindsets tend to close their doors.

Practical things that you can do include: 

  • Take time away from the business, either with your business partners or advisers, to brainstorm the opportunities that are presented by the circumstances we find ourselves in.
  • Keep asking yourself this question: “What could you do now that you’ll be really glad you did in five years?”

Good luck over the coming weeks and months. If ever you’d like to chat about how we can further help your business, please get in touch.

 

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