Navigating our family business through Covid, and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.
At the time of writing this, it’s exactly 3-months since the UK went into lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. All businesses have been impacted by Covid – some positive, some negative – and all will have learned valuable lessons from this global crisis.
So, what are the biggest takeaways?
All too often decisions in family businesses are made with emotion or based on a “gut feeling”. That’s not to say that emotions are bad, but they do tend to cloud judgment when it comes to making business decisions.
As we entered lockdown, I was part-way through The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters. First of all, it’s a phenomenal book (I say phenomenal as I don’t particularly pick books up that often!) Essentially it helps you to get a handle on your “chimp”, and take control of your emotions and act in your own, best interest. In the case of Covid, it actually helped to take emotion out of the equation, allowing us to make decisions based on cold, hard facts!
(Good) Data is Key!
On Day 1 we looked at our sales forecast and cashflow projections based on 3 assumptions; no sales, some sales and lots of sales – hoping that we’d be somewhere in between the two latter options! That allowed us to make decisions on who to furlough, how long for and what level of sales we’d need to be at to un-furlough. Quite a simple decision in the end.
We Are Adaptable
Historically, if you challenged an office-based business to mobilise and go “remote” within the space of a week, most would probably tell you it wasn’t possible. Yet for many, it actually happened (and in some cases it was less than a week!)
Working from home has allowed businesses to continue operating (or re-open) safely, controlling/limiting physical numbers on-site (especially where roles cannot be performed remotely).
Businesses have also reported hikes in productivity as a direct result of the flexibility that working from home presents, whilst plenty of firms have now embraced and adopted video calling as part of the “new norm”. Some businesses will now be asking the question; do we even need an office?
Don’t Fall into the Covid Trap
I can’t claim to have coined the phrase “Covid Trap” as it was part of a brilliant series of webinars hosted by the wonderful Guardian Law. So, what is the Covid Trap?
Covid is creating a temporary hike in extraordinary employee engagement/improved culture. The challenge for businesses (post-Covid) is maintaining it, and not falling back into the old ways. Covid has presented businesses with a ready-made engaged purpose, it’s up to firms to seize that opportunity and emerge stronger.
Control the Controllables!
There are lots of things that businesses cannot control, Covid being one of them. So there’s no point in trying to control it (unless they’re involved in pharmaceutical manufacturing!)
Businesses can, however, control; costs, cashflow, pricing, products/services they offer, innovation, quality, contingency plans, their mindset.
Stay focussed, and control the controllables.
So, what lessons have you and your business learned during Covid?