What the Covid-19 pandemic has taught me about running a small business
The Covid-19 pandemic has uprooted small businesses, large businesses, the self employed, heck, it’s uprooted the entire world!
I’ve always believed that a crash was coming, but nobody could have quite predicted the stark reality that is hitting home to people across the globe right now.
In fact, I recall a conversation I was having with my wife late last year when we were talking shop (as you do when you both run a business together). Things had been so good, and for so long, that it can’t be this good. Something has to be looming. Bad times have to come, surely?
Little did we know that just a few short months later, mother earth would get the biggest relief from our hustle, bustling, travelling busy lives in history!
And whilst I was one of the hugely fortunate ones to have sold my business merely days before this all kicked off, I have been in touch with so many other business owners to offer my support and help wherever I possibly can.
Fortunately, IT Support businesses are not immediately effected by the pandemic, as IT is very much in huge demand right now to enable those businesses who are still operating to conduct business.
IT Businesses will certainly feel the impact, but it will be more delayed than any other sector as we wait to see how many of our customers and suppliers struggle, and try to help them get through the difficult times as much as possible.
What this has done is established a number of thoughts firmly in my mind of lessons that we can all learn from this.
Lesson #1: Profit First
If you aren’t putting away at least a portion of your monthly income into a separate bank account, that you only touch in emergencies, then now is the time to start.
If you are unable to put just 1% of your turnover into a savings account each month, then you are likely one of the many, many business owners right now who are having to make some very tough decisions.
Businesses who have been following my recommendation of managing their cash with the Profit First method will have a cash reserve which they can survive from when business slows down, and right now many business owners will be using those savings.
In my IT Business, we were aiming for 6 months of savings so allow us to survive a quiet month, a recession, or who’d have known, a pandemic.
Ultimately, many have come to the realisation that the government doesn’t care about them. What they feel as a minority in terms of statistics means little to those who are suffering and dealing with the real issues of zero income and their businesses going bust.
So whilst you cannot fix the issues you are dealing with right now, make a plan to put something like this in place for when you are back and kicking.
Lesson #2: Why offices?
Now is not a good time to be a landlord of commercial office space.
Businesses all across the globe are discovering the significant number of benefits from having their staff work from home.
The obvious and immediate savings on rent, insurance and business rates.
Those finally discovering a true work/life balance, being able to each lunch with their families or perhaps go for a run and being able to spend that little more time being ‘home’ both before and immediately after work.
The huge time savings across the board from no travel between meetings, and no more long commutes into the office each day.
I believe there will be many businesses realising they can entirely close down their offices to move to a remote workforce, or perhaps alternatively moving to a hybrid working environment where staff share desks and rotate to spend time in the office.
Co-working spaces could see a sharp increase in use from the back of this, although as many businesses using co-working spaces are start ups or micro businesses, some business may be lost by the loss of these businesses as customers post covid-19.
Lesson #3: Gratefulness
An unintended consequence of this pandemic is that staff are much more appreciative of their bosses and the jobs they hold.
Those who have been furloughed are (at least for now) realising how fortunate they are to be receiving 80% of their salary whilst being free to spend time with their family, whilst the business owners are doing everything in their power to make sure their job still exists once this is all over.
In most cases, business owners themselves are currently getting little to no support for their own personal finances and are relying on ensuring their businesses continue to generate income to support their own finances.
Business owners are likewise realising how hard their staff will work for them, to help keep their businesses open, achieving such great things when the world seems against them, no matter how small the achievement may seem.
Everyone is feeling grateful for the most important things in their lives right now. Their families, their friends, the food on their table and the fresh air outside. If there’s one thing this pandemic has given us, it’s time to reflect and appreciate what we all have and focusing less on desiring what others have.
Lesson #4: Technology
Technology connects us all, and plays the most significant part in getting us through the worlds biggest challenge that we will likely see in our lifetimes.
Businesses who haven’t cared much for IT have spent the last few weeks desperately grabbing laptops and learning how conferencing solutions like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet work to enable their businesses to keep operating.
People of all ages are using technology even more so, to stay connected, speak to their loved ones over video calls – even online gaming is now being touted as an excellent way to stay social when previously it was vilified for being the complete opposite!
Many people are managing family life whilst being glued to their mobile devices to keep on top of work, and with many of the UK watching the daily government briefings over the BBC’s news app, it just goes to show how dependant on technology we all are.
I actually cancelled my Sky TV subscription a few years ago and have only watched the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime TV recently – but surely live TV is just showing repeats by now? The number of shows which will have been paused or cancelled due to being unable to film must be having an impact? Let me know!
And lastly – people all going through the same thing right now, but many are experiencing very different things.
From those who are fortunate enough to have enough to survive, to pay for food, even though you may be furloughed and not able to work, through to those who have had their careers and businesses ripped away from them after so much time and energy invested, now facing the realisation that they have zero income, and worrying about how they will feed their families.
To the super-mums who are tirelessly at home, making sure every day is an educational day for their children with all sorts of activities throughout the day, don’t forget there are single mums also out there, struggling to balance looking after their children with working to earn enough to put food on their table.
Let the kids have fun, let them run around and be happy. Enjoy the time together.
For when this is all over, and none of us know how long it will be, then – and only then can we all begin to get back to normality.
If you’re struggling to keep your business going in these tough times, then please do drop me a message in the comments, connect on social media or via the contact form on this site. I’ll do whatever I can to help in any way.
Until then, Stay Safe.