4 Lessons Learnt from COVID
When the 2008 recession hit, I was in the Army and, for me, little changed. While I saw on the news the devastating impact of the crash, I still got my monthly wage in full and on time. From memory, the only change was that I didn’t receive my yearly pay rise for about 5 years.
Fast forward to 2020, I am now a civilian (in civvi street) and a business owner. The initial impact of Coronavirus was an eye opener, to put it mildly. Our whole sales pipeline stopped overnight, and I was worried. I am not afraid to admit I had a few sleepless nights. I just didn’t know what I was supposed to do.
This recession has given me an insight into what businesses faced in 2008 and in truth, a real appreciation for their resilience. In the Army we had to be resilient for obvious reasons. It’s instilled from day one and we were constantly tested when training. We had to be resilient and keep going for our mates, for our Regiment, and for the Queen.
But it’s not so in civvi street. I could have stopped and given in at any time. No one would have died, my Regiment (the Coldstream Guards) would not have suffered a defeated, and, dare I say it, the Queen‘s reputation would not have been affected. I could have got a job and life would have carried on. Simple.
And that’s true for every single business, any one of them could have said, “that’s it, I’ve had enough”. And no one could have blamed them. Which makes it the more impressive. As a result, I have a far greater appreciation for businesses and their owners.
For what it’s worth, I thought I would write down 4 things I have learnt from the COVID incident that I hope may one day help someone else in my position.
1. Understand the Risk of Having Clients
Now I know I’m in the business of risk and you think I’d have this sorted. But you’d be wrong. This incident has taught me so much more.
Taking on a new client is as much as risk as investing in a new machine or moving to bigger premises. They have the same potential to destroy your business.
So, my advice, treat every new client as a risk and grade them accordingly. Consider the likelihood of them not being able to pay you against the impact should they not pay. Keep it under constant review.
2. Talk to Your Clients More
A simple one I know and something I thought I was doing well. But I found out there was plenty of room for improvement.
Following the review of my clients (using the above method), I knew who I considered ‘at risk’ and those that I wasn’t overly concerned with. I started talking to those at risk on a regular basis- weekly. Those at less risk at longer intervals.
I was genuinely interested in how they were getting on, after all it could affect my business. Turns out it’s good to talk (who knew!). I know my clients so much better than before and I’ve had more business because of it. And I learnt so much from them.
3. Short Term Pain
Having started talking to my clients on a more regular basis, it was evident that some were faring far worse than others. Particularly those business that were in the hospitality sector.
After a review we made the decision to provide our services free of charge to those that needed it. It was a difficult decision but at the same time an easy decision. Why wouldn’t you help those that needed it?
We can absorb some loss for our clients to help them get through this. I hope I’m not speaking to soon, but we will all come out the other end in a better place.
4. Be Efficient
A term I’d often heard “does it make the boat go faster?” and yes, I knew what it meant until I was in a position that I needed to look what we did as a business.
Inefficiency costs time, resources, and ultimate money. So, be as business efficient as possible, make sure every process works together a seamlessly as possible.
Easily said than done, but worth doing right.
I feel in a much better place than before the pandemic hit. Yes, we aren’t through it yet, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
And it has led me to think, how can I better support my clients grow their business. So, in the next month or so, we will be running a webinar to help business streamline their security, so it doesn’t restrict or inhibit their business processes. Keep an eye out.
If you would like to know more, please get in touch.