“We have a very small window of opportunity before the restrictions are lifted….
Small business owners need to be engaging with staff, suppliers and customers to get the absolute best understanding of how they will react once restrictions ease.”
Author: Michael Brennan
As talk turns to roadmaps to recovery, my first thought is, do people even remember how to read roadmaps anymore? In the age of Siri and on-board navigation, we’ve become heavily reliant on automation and less inclined to find the way ourselves. The other question I have is how do we map a road we’ve never travelled on? To jump to the next COVID catch phrase, we are in uncharted territory.
During medieval times, distant and unexplored lands on the edges of maps were marked by drawings of dragons and sea serpents. The idea invoked the harm that sailors were likely to encounter when entering previously uncharted waters. Now is as good time, to be cautious about the unknown and start planning for what might be ahead.
Whilst politicians grapple with roadmaps, business owners need to start looking at their own plans. As business owners, our initial thoughts were focused on the immediate. How do I pay my bills if I can’t sell my goods? Two months down the COVID track, a lot of us have survived due to the largess of government, our suppliers and our banks. We are now getting closer to that point though where we will be largely on our own again. It’s important to think about what that is going to look like.
Once restrictions are lifted, will people come back? Will the market ever be the same? What if staff don’t want to re-engage? How long can you afford to keep trading?
I’ve previously written about the importance of cash flow projections and the self-reflection required by business owners when doing that work. When you think about it on a larger scale, that is exactly what our political leaders are doing now. They are trying to recast the State and Federal budget based on how they predict the economy will respond to the new environment.
The Treasury Department has a hell of a lot more resources than a small business does but that doesn’t make their projections any better than yours. You live and breathe in your market; you understand your clients on a personal level. You largely understand what drives the decisions based on your historical dealings with them. They are not an esoteric or theoretical thing; they are part of your life.
Rather than guess how they’ll respond; my suggestion is you make contact with your major clients and talk to them about what their plans are. Try to understand what will be driving their decisions to purchase goods and services.
Understanding supply chains is also strongly advised. Do you know how long it will take to re-train new staff or obtain stock when you open the doors? Have your suppliers changed the way that they supply? Have their credit terms changed and will they give you credit?
We have a very small window of opportunity before the restrictions are lifted and the expectation is that it will be largely business as usual. Small business owners need to be engaging with staff, suppliers and customers to get the absolute best understanding of how they will react once restrictions ease.
Armed with that information you can apply it into your cash flow planning so that you’re not sailing blindly off the edge of a flat Earth dodging dragons and hoping for the best.