28 April 2020
By Elaine Murphy
Glandore, and one of their co-working space members Zarrida, share helpful tips on how to keep business moving forward in the midst of this covid 19 pandemic
COVID-19 has been unforgiving. It ruthlessly exploited ineffective execution and it has been merciless towards any business overleveraged and lacking cash reserves. This doesn’t mean that those businesses should roll over and die, but in fact now is the time to step up and fight using a structured and planned approach.
One may say ‘that’s all great, but there is not enough cash to pay anyone at the end of the month’. It must be remembered that panic and fear are too very different things. Panic increases anxiety and lack of sleep, resulting in poor performance and poor decision making. Fear on the other hand can be a powerful motivator for effective change. People and business owners are now encouraged to embrace that fear and ask where do you want the business to be 12 months from now.
Zarrdia is a specialist Infrastructure and Cloud Native firm and is based in the Glandore co-working space at Fitzwilliam Place in Dublin. At Zarrida, they advise to break it down into manageable steps, remembering a famous Navy Seal quote, ‘Get comfortable being uncomfortable!’ We all have a lot more time without travel, so they advise to use that wisely and with the below steps.
There’s no time like the present to redefine goals and objectives for yourself and your team in the coming nine months to Christmas. At Zarrdia, those goals and objectives are set well in advance of the new year, so the team has had time in the first quarter to reflect on everything but crucially, they were primed and ready to go into full remote working from April – refocused and ready for battle.
Businesses work in quarters and so people are used to saying and hearing phrases such as “by the end of Q2….” or “that will be executed by the start of Q3”. But why then do people plan our lives out in one-year periods, be that with New Year resolutions, or with one-off goals that we only check back in on months and months later?
That kind of long-finger thinking and “planning”, doesn’t work. Buisnesses need to split the year up into blocks of 12 weeks, not one big block of 12 months. And the result; most people will end up getting more done in a 12-week period than other people managed to achieve in a 12-month block.
NASA uses the method, as does jewellery giant Tiffany’s and BMW. You need to be ruthless, know what has to be achieved and what is a ‘nice to have’. Get the balance right between the tactical (getting cash in) and the strategic (ensuring business growth and cutting out non effective business channels). The great thing too is that no matter when in the calendar year you discover the method first, you can just start from where you are and plan out your remaining months in 12-week blocks.
Review & Reassess
Forget about COVID-19 altogether and ask yourself this: ‘Where would you like your business to be April 2021?’ Envision that and absorb it into the grey matter. Write down the objectives that will get you there and use that as a compass week-to-week, across each 12-week block to assess whether you’re on track. Look at the overarching professional goals and focus on the following key areas (non-exhaustive), including:
Finances; how much cash have you got, how long will it last and when will you start to get more revenue. Break that into a spreadsheet with a weekly battle line, between money in and money out. It is vital that you continue to pay suppliers, your team and yourself. Money is meant to move around. If everyone was to adopt a cash hoarding ‘pay no one’ attitude, there will be an even deeper recession, ironically causing your business even more problems 24 – 36 weeks out.
Communicate with everyone, more regularly, particularly your team and key clients. Jack Welch (ex CEO General Electric) used to say that it takes eight iterations for the same message to actually sink in. You can adopt Zarrdia’s communications approach if it works. They have a meeting at 8.30am daily, to ensure everyone has a shared purposed, assistance with any issues, but most importantly they feel the ‘band of brothers’ approach to getting through the workload. Especially if you need team members to take a pay cut or worse again, remember this won’t last forever. One final tip here, research has found the entire team may be willing to take a small pay cut each rather than let anyone go. Now you have a real team spirit and unbreakable bond.
Health; last but certainly not least, is the wellbeing both mentally and physically of each team member. Make sure as a leader, you take time to speak with everyone in the team, regularly, to ensure each person is OK. No one really knows how another person is dealing with everything. Without getting too personal, just show you care and support that person both professionally and personally, making sure everyone gets some physical exercise as well.
Don’t focus too hard what’s gone wrong. If you have no cash, no amount of over analysis is going to fix that. Focus on the steps above and get those funds in, whatever it takes! As Winston Churchill famously said, “Success is not final and failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts!”
Take time to reflect on all the positives in your life; that could be your partner, kids or even spending time walking your dog. Take time to appreciate all you have and don’t beat yourself up too much.
There is a lot of science that backs up the benefits of switching off and spending time with your friends and family. A longitudinal study from Harvard University looked at the happiness of 268 men over the course of 80 years from 1938-2018. Those men faced everything from illness to unemployment in their personal lives, and from WW2 to walls in their own lives. They witnessed and withstood a lot. And what was the overall secret to happiness during those 80 years? Tending to their relationships is what mended and minded their lives.
Use this time wisely for both yourself, your family and your business. Remember you can’t control the crisis, but you can control how we respond to the crisis. And always ask yourself, why did I get out of bed this morning?