By Dan Morgan
The economic uncertainty we have all been living under these past few weeks has become the new norm – but in order to respond to disruption, UK business owners need to take action to increase resilience.
Dan Morgan, Managing Partner at Haines Watts Esher, highlights some advice for business leaders dealing with this tough economic time.
Taking care of business, means taking care of our teams
First and foremost, taking care of business in this pandemic means taking care ofyour employees. It is more important than ever as a leader that you communicate optimism with your team, keep them safe and support them through this uncertain time to avoid it having an impact on performance and productivity. If you have to make difficult choices about retaining staff, think carefully about phasing your approach so that you don’t leave your business under-resourced in the future.
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach and some members of the team will need more flexibility with their hours than others, particularly for example those juggling child care with remote working.
Repurpose the production line
Look at whether you can repurpose your products or services, whether to directly support the fight against Covid-19 or indirectly prop up other activity. Some enterprises are switching from producing alcohol to make hand sanitiser, while others like automotive companies are also looking into whether they can make medical devices such as ventilators. Not only does this keep operations ticking over but if, which is likely, any of this adaption qualifies for R&D tax relief, it could also take some pressure off your cash flow.
Manage the detail
Spend time looking at the options that may be available to you to mitigate the potential impact of reduced sales and lowered forecasts – whether this is taking advantage of government measures like Time to Pay, chasing in debts, agreeing extra credit terms with suppliers or payment holidays on rent.
Invest in your future
Despite the upheaval, it’s time to rethink business operations and look at the steps you can take. Many companies are rapidly embracing new technologies, reconsidering cash flow and finances and redeploying their resources, so it’s a good time to examine every aspect of the business.
Think about future operations and take steps to position yourself and your business best for the long-term. Whether it’s a new employment model mixing full-time or contract staff, or more flexible pricing and payment options – take time to reflect on the way your business operates and whether new ways of doing things can make your business more adaptable.
Adapt and innovate to grow
Forget about your usual routine because the rule book has changed and it isn’t as clearly defined as it was. Just because your business has always done something in a particular way, doesn’t mean it remains the best way. Look for alternatives that are more flexible.
The hospitality sector for example, has moved away from providing tourist accommodation and instead is providing space for quarantine centres. Retailers meanwhile have moved away from physical stories to offer digital customer services. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
It might feel like you can’t see beyond the weeks ahead, but you’ll be amazed by the resilience within your team and the business. The economy will only progress and prosper if businesses, which have weathered the storm, choose to look forward and prepare themselves for greater and better things.
To survive the worst times is the foundation to thrive in the best ones.
Most of all, we need to stay calm and confident so all of our teams can come back feeling valued.