Clicksmith is fortunate to work with several local businesses, businesses that up until about 10 days ago were doing fantastically well. When I speak with them now, I don’t get the same level of positivity that I used to. For obvious reasons the game has changed, and for the most part we all feel like we are losing.
When this is all over, we will crack open a few beers (probably avoiding one brand) and have a street party reminiscent of 1945. But that time seems a long way off right now. Apart from the supermarkets, which are doing a roaring trade, most retail businesses, leisure and hospitality businesses and those providing what might be seen as a luxury service have seen sales fall off a cliff. I thought I would put down in writing my honest thoughts about what the next few months might hold, and how as a community we might come out the other side.
Firstly, I urge you to not give up. You have not worked this hard and sacrificed so much to give up so easily. This may be two or three months of unbearable pain (and boredom) but use this time to make your business stronger. Recently announced government support will help, but we also need to think for ourselves and find ways of staying afloat. Innovation is often born as a result of difficult times. How refreshing that our restaurant owners have been so quick to diversify their service. We live in a digital era which allows us to think outside of the box, to try new ways of working and new ways of selling.
Talk, talk and talk some more… engage with your community and with your staff. Talk to your competition and to your suppliers. We are truly in this together, and more than ever we need to learn from each other. There are experienced businessmen and women in Guernsey who have negotiated difficult times in the past, so let’s listen to them and learn. We all have different skills, sharing these with each other could be the difference between survival or bankruptcy.
It’s not about profit anymore, it’s about survival (cue dramatic music). We all love to make money, but now is not the time for that to be the priority. Sacrifice your own needs as a business owner to help your staff and suppliers survive. Yes, the end of year bonus might go a miss, but if that means you keep paying your staff and suppliers during this time then please make that decision. 2020 is going to be brutal on many businesses’ balance sheets, but recovery will be made all the easier if your staff and suppliers are still in a job. If you don’t stick with them, then when you are looking to bounce back, they may not be around to help.
And lastly, take a moment to breath. As business owners we have sacrificed so much and committed our lives to building our own livelihoods. This is an opportunity to take some perspective, to enjoy time with our family and time away from the 60-hour weeks of worrying, working and stressing. People have compared this to a war, but this is not a war. We don’t have to run from bombs or men with guns. Take time to get to know your children, play silly games in the garden or maybe paint the spare room. When this is all over it will be full on again and we may just wish we had made the most of this enforced hiatus.
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