Navigating unprecedented times – a word from the TBB directors.
We are in uncharted seas at the moment that’s for sure. So much is changing so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. First and foremost, we hope everyone stays well and we look forward to meeting up in person when all this is over.
Potentially, we could be in this situation for a while. Although we all hope not, it’s better to plan for the worst. We could be looking at up to six months until the country begins to resemble something along the lines of ‘normality’. What does that mean for business, marketing and morale?
How TBB is tackling an evolving situation
We’ve got a four-stage plan in place that we (the directors) agreed last week. It’s better to make the plan before anything happens so you are thinking clearly and not emotionally. We figured out what scenarios need to play out for a certain stage to be triggered – then what we do in that stage has been mapped out and agreed.
It’s also worth revisiting your marketing strategy. Think about what you want at the end of this. When we do return to normal, what position would you like your brand or website to be in? Aim to be ready for the potential surge of activity and spend that is likely to come. We’ve written a more detailed piece about marketing through a crisis.
Can you adapt? There have been some great innovative examples of companies quickly adapting to this crisis. Local food producers have switched to deliveries and click and collect. Ecommerce deliveries are being made ‘contact free’. There’s even F1 teams making products for the NHS. At TBB, we’ve adapted some processes to better suit working from home, like daily video catch-ups and more frequent reporting for clients. More than anything, we are prioritising client communications.
Take advantage of financial aid
Financial help is an area that seems to change rapidly. Here’s a round-up of announcements that you may or may not have heard by now:
- VAT payments for April, May and June have been deferred. This is supposed to be automatic but it is recommended that direct debits are cancelled to keep the cash in your business. You will need to pay this back by the end of the 20/21 tax year.
- Business rates – Your local council will write to you automatically to tell you what you are entitled to. In some cases, this will be mean no business rates. In others, a reduction.
- Furlough staff. The word no-one had heard of until a few weeks ago. Essentially, this means that if you are considering making staff redundant because of the situation, you can furlough them and the government will pay 80% of their wage up to £2,500. Check out the government website for more info. Furloughed employees can NOT work for you during this period. They are on a type of gardening leave. You will pay them their wage as normal and claim back the 80% through a portal.
- Overdrafts and business interruption loans. This is very much a case of speaking to your bank, as each one has a slightly different process. In theory, it should be easier than normal because the government is guaranteeing 80% of any loan balance should the company become insolvent.
The best place to get financial support and information is from your accountant. Stuart and the team at Accountancy Extra have been amazing They have provided a lot of help and guidance over the last few weeks.
Focus on personal and team morale
There will be a lot of anxiety within your family and in colleagues’ minds right now. There is a lot of great advice and many helpful tips out there for this. Here’s some of what we’re implementing among the crew:
- Encouraging the team keep up to exercise where it’s safe to do so.
- Being flexible with hours. If someone needs to get supplies for an older relative or look after their kids, better to get that done and then get back to concentrating on work later.
- Our daily production meeting now takes place through video. Everyone needs to attend to catch up with each other and see everyone they are used to seeing in the usual office environment. We’ve started a daily challenge too for a bit of fun. We’ve had Cluedo, silly headwear and moustaches.
- Communicating often with the team and clients. You cannot ‘over-communicate’ at a time like this.
- Being nice. It might sound obvious but these are trying times for all, with many people having to juggle home working and schooling. Consider shifting your expectations a little and try not to make a bad situation worse.
- Reassuring staff their job is safe (where possible). One less thing to worry about is a good thing right now.
- Our final tip is to not forget about yourself. When you’re juggling school work with running a business, it’s easy to neglect your own mental health. Head outside for an hour – get some fresh air and exercise.
We hope this helps. If you need to talk, we will make ourselves available.
Doug, Andy & Lee