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Focus on what you can control

Focus on what you can manage BANNER

Who would have believed six months ago the economy and world would have ground to a standstill, no international flights, FTSE below 6,000 points and nowhere to go for a pint on a Friday night?

In light of all these changes, John Leach, a business development specialist and author, outlines his advice to help businesses keep focussed during the coronavirus crisis. Everyone has an opinion on what the powers should and shouldn’t do with regards to lockdown and reopening trade and business channels. We can too readily become absorbed in macro issues over which we have no control. This is such a waste of mental energy – emotionally it’s draining and more importantly, it takes focus away from things we can control. Whilst nothing in our lifetime has been as bad as this current period, many of us are old enough to have suffered recession and sky high interest rates and will have stories to tell about how we navigated through past challenging times. Well much of that wisdom can be applied to where we find ourselves today, and my wisdom for people running a business during this current crisis is:

1. Choose your attitude

You can let your head go down and give up, or you can take comfort in the fact that the world does find ways of dealing with these situations. Whilst not clear at the moment, things will get better. Good times always follow bad, it’s the natural cycle of life.

2. Ruthlessly review your cost base

Have you taken all the appropriate measures to minimise the outlay of cash? Have you spoken to customers to agree terms of payment for any outstanding invoices? Have you negotiated payment terms for any fixed monthly outgoings? Whatever you do; don’t ignore people chasing payment! Be sure where possible to have settled up with them – and if you can't, speak to suppliers and explain the situation. You will be respected for it.

3. Prepare a three-month cash flow forecast

Several economic and industry commentators are indicating that some recovery will be experienced in June, maybe wrong, maybe right, that’s all we have to work on. In light of this thinking – prepare a three-month cash flow projection looking at the best and worst case scenarios. Use this to inform your decisions as to what funding and support maybe needed. Whilst a statement of the obvious, be sure to have researched fully all the government support for your business and the support available via Boost.

4. Nurture the wellbeing of your staff

Be sure to keep in touch with remote working staff. It can get lonely working from home so organise daily/weekly calls to chat things through, encourage the taking of breaks and a healthy work/life balance.  Demonstrating to staff that you genuinely care is so important. We all need to be loved and Dunkirk spirit goes a long way. Have a laugh; it’s a great tonic for testing times.

5. Give yourself time to think about 'what next?'

Scarcity is often said to be the mother of innovation. Difficult times can be the catalyst for new ideas, new projects, new products and new ways of working. Silence and calm environments stimulate new possibilities. Great ideas, very rarely come from scrambled, over worked and tired minds. Use this time to think about what’s next for your business. We can learn from this 'bonkers' period, it just may help to shape a better, more resilient and slicker running organisation. In these challenging times we should take comfort in this quotation from theologian Reinhold Niebuhr: ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference'.   John Leach is Chairman of Winning Pitch, a delivery partner for Boost's Growth Mentoring Programme. He is a non-executive director of a number of scale up businesses supporting them in raising finance and developing growth strategies, he’s also an active investor with extensive experience in business turnarounds John has authored two highly acclaimed business books, they include: Pitch Perfect – Feel the Impact of a Winning Sales Approach and The Success Factor – Master the Secrets of a Winning Mindset.


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