Service: Business strategy

Topic: Coronavirus

COVID-19: Top ten tips for business owners

By Howard Woolf

31 Mar 2020

Now, more than ever, teams need to work together to reduce the impact of coronavirus. It is easy for directors and CEOs to take on the burden and feel isolated, but there is support available. Whether from board members, professional advisers, government initiatives or internal managers and the team.

There has been much ‘doom and gloom’ reporting and it is clear that almost all businesses are going to be impacted, but business owners and directors are not alone and can take practical steps now to lessen the impact. 

1. Set up a coronavirus crisis team

To enable quick decisions to be made, businesses must have a response team in place. This should be a small, agile group that meet regularly to keep up-to-date with the changing circumstances, coordinate the company’s response and be the ‘go-to’ team for the rest of the business.

Depending on the structure of your business, this team can consist of: board members, the managing director/CEO, selected senior team members, selected junior team members or professional advisers. Having a diverse group means you will benefit from different ideas and points of view, shared experiences, and ambassadors who will support the decisions made with the rest of the team.

2. Keep up-to-date with government guidelines

It goes without saying, but the first thing all businesses need to ensure is that they are adhering to the government guidelines and supporting their employees to as well.

Many businesses that can should adopt flexible working. However, remember, when your employees are working from home, you are still responsible for their health and safety and need to provide the right equipment for them to work safely.

You should also ensure that as the situation evolves, you are speaking to your employees about how the business is reacting and what is expected from them. Regular catch ups and communications are necessary to prevent them from feeling isolated.

3. Work with real-time, accurate data

Where possible, you need your finance team to be providing you with up-to-date figures on your invoicing, billing, collections, etc. 

You also need to know key information, such as your contractual obligations with suppliers, insurance cover in place and government support you are eligible for.

Knowing all the information and options available to you means you are in a better position to accurately forecast and scenario plan, helping you to make the best decisions for the future of your business.

4. Cash is king

One of the key pieces of advice we have been giving to clients is that cash is now more important than ever. You must assess your cash flow and see where you can relieve pressure. The most significant costs are property, including rent and rates, and, of course, employee costs. 

Therefore, make sure to speak to your landlords and see if you can get a rent holiday or, at least, a rent deferral. 

Also, if it is necessary to cut your employee costs, consider the impact on morale and how best to communicate it to the team. In situations where this cannot be avoided, being transparent and keeping your employees updated at every step is the best way forward. Some options include, taking a pay cut at the top and implementing company-wide pay cuts to show that the team is in it together. Read more about the options available to employers here.

5. Communicate

During periods of downturn, the most important thing you can do is communicate. Communicate with your employees about your business’ response, the potential impact on their jobs and any company changes. Communicate with customers and ensure they know you’re still open for business and keep suppliers up-to-date.  

Communication with all stakeholders is essential to maintain trust and morale during periods of uncertainty.

6. Don’t stop marketing

You need to ensure that you and your brand are still visible. People trust brands they are familiar with. If you stop marketing, it will take longer to regain the trust that you have built. Those that continue marketing will come out stronger than those that fall silent during this time.

Indeed, you need to be mindful of your marketing. For example, celebrating promotions when other businesses are struggling may not reflect well on your business or being seen to profit might have a negative impact on your brand. However, you can still show how your business is reacting to the crisis and keep regular communications between customers and potential targets going. Business does not need to stop.

7. Ask for help

The key word during this crisis has been ‘unprecedented’. No one has all the answers, knows how long businesses will be affected or what the best response is. Therefore, it is important that directors and business owners ask for help when they need it. 
The volume of information to absorb, knowing decisions need to be made within a small timeframe, with a clarity of mind, trying to consider all the permutations and connotations and, of course, trying not to drop the ball on anything.  This, in conjunction with running the business, means there is enormous pressure on CEOs and directors.  

Now is the time to forget pride, recognise you do not have all the answers and seek advice as and when you need it. 

8. Get your team involved

It is easy to focus on the negatives, but to boost morale think about how you can get your team more involved and spread positivity. Getting opinions from your team on any suggestions they have for the future; new services you can offer or marketing ideas, will not only build a team environment, but often means you may get more creative ideas. 

Also, ensure you are collaborating and involving different teams, such as IT, Marketing and HR, to ensure a consistent message throughout your business.

9. Assess supply chains

Review your customers and suppliers to understand what their needs are and whether there is any movement with your suppliers to modify your services or products. 

Supply chains will be struggling just as much as you are, and it is important to listen to how they are reacting, where they are struggling/doing well and how you can maybe collaborate or alter your services to support each other. 

10. Keep learning

We are currently working in such unique conditions that many lessons will be learnt: which individuals stepped up and can be trusted, what working practices have been most effective and what, if anything, the business can do to reduce the impact of future threats.

Business practices will inevitably change; working from home may become the new norm and businesses may no longer need such large office overheads. Businesses may become more mindful and cautious and more innovations may emerge.
Remembering any lessons learnt will help businesses when we all get back to normal. 

 

If you believe that we can be of any constructive assistance, perhaps through providing your business with an informal non-exec role who can attend your (virtual) board meetings and other team discussions, then please contact the partner who looks after your affairs.

To view our latest support and guidance for individuals, visit our Coronavirus Updates page.
 

Back to top

To download this pdf, please provide the following information.