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Covid-19: Adapting to Stay in Business – 4 Strategies

Hi folks,

It’s Dr Ro here. I hope you’re having a good day. For those of you watching this in the UK, I hope everything is going well for you. I appreciate at the moment there’s a lot of change happening. 

We don’t know what the end of the week will look like, but I think the most important thing is to stay focused on what you have control over in your own environment at the moment.

As many of you know, I’ve been doing public coaching in the world of business, real estate and personal development now for some years as an entrepreneur, but also as a professional coach/mentor. I always try and get as many messages out as I can. In fact I just had somebody in PR actually speak to me yesterday because of questions coming in, so you might hear my voice in the public space shortly. 

In the meantime, I want to talk to business owners today about what’s happening with coronavirus. Just today I had a phone call from somebody asking me if I could do a couple of things to help out specifically with their business in terms of keeping customers happy and also, keeping them inspired and motivated.

If you’re watching this right now and you are self-employed or you run a business that involves providing a service or products to customers, there are four things I suggest that you might want to consider over these coming weeks, and months actually. In reality, for years moving forward.

During my last experience of a recession in this country, I learned a lot of lessons about partnerships, about trust, about loyalty and also about helping maintain relationships with customers and clients during difficult periods. 

I learned very much about the importance of maintaining that connection with your clients, which I think a lot of people tend not to do when they’re in a difficult place when they’re a business owner. I spoke to a gentleman today that’s been in business for over 30 years. One of his challenges was how to maintain his relationship with his clients, because when his clients go into difficulty, he’s wondering if they will still buy from him. How does he adapt to the new marketplace? Does that mean a gap in the income coming in and the impact on his livelihood for his family, where he live, etc.?

I think this is a real concern for a lot of people. So when we are in a place where we are almost drowning or we’re concerned that the water is rising very quickly and we don’t feel we have anywhere to move to, typically what happens is that you get to a point where all we can think about is avoiding losing our oxygen and drowning .

I want to shift that focus and the way I attempt to do this to when I’m working with somebody and as you’re watching this take this as a tip, a coaching tip. You can take all of it and say great or you can take it and say I’m not interested in it at all.

The reality is that COVID-19 is coincidentally or not, synchronising with a specific moment in time when we were due to be hit by a recession anyway.

I think that’s an important point to be aware of and if you’re watching this, please share this video with people around you who maybe have had their head down. I don’t want to use the word naïvely but have naïvely thought “I’m going to stay in my job, everything is going to be fine.” 

There are cyclical patterns with recessions. If you haven’t watched my recent webinars we are actually about to relaunch them because we had a lot of people asking what’s happened to your webinar on recessions. There are cyclical periods typically recessions major recessions happen every seven to 10 years. The last recession was 2008, that sort of period. We were due to get hit about a year and a half ago. 

If you look at quantitative easing and certain other factors that occur both in America and the UK and Europe, that level of quantitative easing has kept the tiger at the gates, kept the monster outside the cave. Meaning that when you print enough money, you can prop up an economy. Americans printed into the trillions. In the United Kingdom here it was and don’t quote me on the exact figure here, but 400+ billion. In Europe there’s been a level of quantitative easing going on a monthly basis and that’s moved now into the trillions.

What that does is flood the market effectively with money which allows people to spend.  That spending has gone into areas such as consumption which boosts gross domestic product. Gross domestic product is the amount of revenue spent effectively in economy and we’ve had a fairly good boost from 2008 all the way through 2019, particularly in the car market. 

Unfortunately, that has started to take a turn and if you look, there is something in America called the big four. These are four indexes that you can look at. Four major economic indicators that if you combine them create one index. If you look at what’s happened to the big four you might be able to look this up on Google right now, but the big four price came down in 2008 and we went through the recession. Then we came out and it’s progressively climbed all the way up to about 2015. If you know anything about the stock market the channel, it hit this peak around 2014, 2015.

Its been doing this 2015, 16, 17,18 and what I believe and if you speak to other economists you’ll hear a similar argument, is that it’s bolstered it up there through the fact that we have had quantitative easing. Now it’s due to take a turn down. If you’ve been to any presentations or any seminars that you’ve seen me do in the last two years I talked about the juggernaut that’s coming down the road it’s going to hit us.

If you’re watching this and you remember that I did this back in front of an audience and the bag was the recession, it’s coming, it’s going to hit us. Are you prepared for it?

So a year and a half ago I had a lot of people in my rooms from the car industry saying, “shit we are coming into the room to learn about real estate to become financially independent through property and by doing that, that’s going to give us security as we believe the car industry is taking a tanking.” And it is, of course, now what’s happening is anyone that was teetering on the edge, hanging on by their fingertips. It only takes one thing to grab you and pull you down and off you go down.

I think COVID-19 has sadly done exactly that. We had this conversation with two people today one on the phone, one face-to-face. I said look it’s been happening anyway. If you’d gone back six months, major reports from people like John Lewis, Carpet Right we know for example that major flight companies have been struggling Thomas Cook went bust about six or eight months ago. 

Major problems on the high streets as we saw in 2008 and nine and everyone is like, oh my gosh, all the signs have been there. The cracks have been there. Now you add weight to that with something like COVID-19 then you’ve got major problems. So this has been a synchronistic, albeit negatively synchronistic moment in time, where it was going to happen anyway. 

The question is what’s my opinion about recession after COVID-19 it’s literally somebody dragging the recession down at an accelerated level. Now we’ve got announcements those of you in the United Kingdom, Carphone Warehouse basically looks like they’re going into insolvency. Virgin are asking for a seven and a half billion-pound bailout from the government. Apparently, one of the big companies have just gone bust. 

That is an accelerator, it’s like putting something into glue that is setting. Putting it into a catalyst and locking it in there. We are in for a serious spiraling downward trend at the moment, that is my personal view and it’s going to affect all businesses. But whilst we are in the midst of the storm right now, which is COVID-19 what can you do as an entrepreneur?  

Four things I think you need to do – number one stay in touch with your clients. If you have a business that involves working with clients or you sell products to get back in touch them ASAP. Make it a reach out on a personal level, hope everything is okay with you, I’m checking in amidst what is obviously a very difficult time and somebody that has been serving or working with you or whatever, provided a service for a certain number of years, I wanted to reach out and extend my considerations, my love to your family. 

Find whatever language is appropriate for you and express that you just want to make sure that everything is okay in their world. That’s number one, and in the same process, reassure them. Just let you know as well from your perspective there are challenges going on and you would still like to provide a service to them or to help support them or whatever it is you do find a way to articulate your message to them, to let them know that you’re still in the world, you’re still there. The look and feel of business might have changed. It might be that you’re going online, or you may have to provide a service slightly differently remotely, via phone. If you’re somebody that works with people privately find a way to get that message across. 

That’s not going to be as easy for those of you involved in a service that is more hands-on, that’s something you have to consider. Is there another way you can talk to them? So, for example, I spoke to somebody that does a lot of treatment work ,physical treatment work and I said what do you think are the challenges that your clients have? They said mainly stress, a lot of the work I do is relieving stress and I asked the question, if you can’t get to them for the next week or two what do you know causes that stress they’re talking about? The mindset, diet, lifestyle, over worry.

I said, what if you put something together for them in the way of an email or a video like this which said to them I appreciate I can’t be there to work on you but what you can do to start to help to alleviate here are some stretching exercises to do. Then demonstrate that and maybe show them some tips and tools about how to relieve that pressure. They were like oh my god that is genius I hadn’t thought about that. 

By staying in touch with your clients and holding their hands through this process and still giving them some tools that will enable them to still look after themselves and I’m giving you one example, but it might be something else to do with diet or what your business is. I’ve been asked for example, to host a webinar very shortly to help clients that have signed up for some seminars and of course those seminars have been put back now maybe two, three weeks.

We just want to find a way to communicate with them and give them some great things they can still be doing working from home whilst getting themselves ready for when they get that next level of learning. Point being, you’re in business, you have a huge amount of knowledge take some of that knowledge and give it for free to people to keep them warm. That is the first one.

The second thing is for you is start to look at what can you be doing from home. So if you can’t physically get out what can do to provide a service to people? Or what could  you be doing to prepare yourself in expectation of when whatever happens, the closures, the lockdown finished, what can you be doing?

For example I would be getting in touch with clients and starting to move dates back. We just had a seminar that we had on looking to move that date back, so we’re going to tell people there’s been a potential move in the day. The first thing is contact your customers and give them some tools and tips that can help keep them warm even something as simple mindset tools. In a way I’m doing this and we are doing that through my own mechanisms as well, communicating with people.

Number two, based on the current business model you’ve got, at least don’t cancel things if you can, reschedule something. Move something back, move that date back, get an agreement at least in principle to deliver a product, deliver a service. If it’s a massage or whatever it is you do in your business, deliver dates and move back product, production. If you’re working from home are there certain things you can do? That’s number two.

Check in on any services you’ve got. Can you reschedule them? Can you move them back? Don’t cancel completely, but find a way to restructure, so at least you’ve got for the moment, something in the pipeline. Albeit it might be a delay in current situation that you’re in.

Number three, I do think it’s worth taking a look at your financial situation and establishing how long you’ve got with the current amount of money you’ve got in the bank account. For example, if you run a business and you earn money you put money aside for tax and you have money you’re living off, there might be money you put aside. How much do you have right now? Do some cash flow forecasting. Have a look at your current financial situation and say how long can I last without me having any clients paying me at the moment.

If you find you’re in a situation which is difficult and for example, you know that in three weeks’ time you will be struggling to pay some bills, creditors, your mortgage, whatever it is pick up the phone and call some people. I can’t give you financial advice, but maybe you need to speak to your mortgage lender and find out if they’re offering mortgage holidays ,i.e. that will allow you to delay your mortgage payments for three, six, 12 months. In the last recession 2008, a lot of people had mortgage holidays that gave them a little bit of relief just to last them a little bit longer, really important. 

The next thing is looking at your current situation with creditors -people you owe money to, go back to them and explain the current situation, say look, I am not in a position to pay you the money that I know is due to pay you in a week, two weeks’ time. If you can pay them something pay them something whether it’s 50%, 3%, 30% percent really doesn’t matter. Find a way to discuss and again I can’t give you financial advice, but at least find a way to discuss with them if there’s a way to move that back, delay it or reduce it or spread it to mitigate risk on you at this time. 

To keep you afloat because if you drown you’re not going to be able to pay anybody and your intention is not to do that but is there a way to mitigate that risk by spreading out as well. So that’s the next thing you can do for your own financial situation, your own forecasts. Are there any credit cards, loans or anything like that, payments that you could potentially reduce, stretch, move back, call credit card companies, talk to whoever you need to talk to. 

Think about two things, there are four I’m going through here but the first two are really about your customers. Keeping them happy, finding a way to provide something for them, whether it’s information, tools, go back and reschedule things. You’ve got some timelines and the rescheduling of that will help you to step three which is looking at your current cashflow. You can go back to a bank or lender and I had to go through this in 2008 on a couple of situations, for example some refurb work we were doing with the builders and the builders were fine. We managed to stretch it out and we said can we pay you X, Y, and Z.

The other thing I learned back then was how to talk to people and make sure you were delaying anything but your intention is there. So speak to banks, credit card companies, speak to lender whatever it is and say look, I’ve spoken to my clients who I service I’ve moved back some of that service for about three to four weeks which is delaying my finances coming in, can we agree something whereby I move that back by X, Y, and Z and that can work.

It’s not an easy thing to go through but it’s important you put this in place now and do it objectively. Step back, relax and don’t get stressed about it. Because when you get stressed it makes you on edge with people and that energy comes across.

The fourth thing is about the future. I’m looking at immediate cash flow management and then the future and this is the question for you, bearing in mind the change that is happening, how can your business change? This is a really important question I’ve asked this question of myself many times over the years and I see it right now, particularly with the events industry what can your business do now to adapt to change into what is going to be without doubt a different world in the next six to 12 months.

The whole thing with COVID-19 is just the surface of a whole new wrapping the world is going to have. You can challenge me on that and say no everyone thing is going to go back the same way; I don’t believe so. I think it’s like a scar on your arm, here is a scar I got at Christmas it’s healed but that will stay there. That’s how powerful these things happen, so you’ve got to think about your business, the world that your business is in and start to anticipate what changes ahead are likely to happen or will happen.

I think it’s really important to think about what new services can you offer. Can your business go online? Can you start to create products that are digital? Provide a service that allow you to have a low-cost product that will still generate some revenue for you? If you’re out of action for the next two or three weeks get yourself a camera like this and  start to video some tools and tips and techniques that actually you can go on to start to sell online. 

If you don’t know how to do that here is a massive tip for you got to www.growthtribes.com. If you’re off-line for the next month, go and join us on Growth Tribes it is an online community that I personally have, and yes it’s a subscription, but if you go for the first month, I think at the moment it’s like a pound. So if you’ve got a month off due to COVID-19 go and join us in the vault. I mean this sincerely because if you go in there, there are some tools around business, mindset.

There is also a really cool product there by a company called B Street, Harminder and Kyle and the team there, they’ve created a really cool set of steps on how to evolve and develop yourself as an online business and great tips to get your presence up. If you go to my communication section in there I’ve got a video series on communication and you can start to use that and to record in front of the camera. Maybe you come up with your five or 10 step process for your product or service whatever it is, go and watch that video on Growth Tribes inside the vault, look at the business online series there that will help you market a product like this and you can get out there and sell this as well.

It’s a great way to service your customers out in the marketplace. That’s my fourth tip, it’s looking ahead into the future and saying what can I start to create now, how can my business look different. You’ve got to think about the reinvention of you. 

Once things start to settle down, COVID-19 hopefully will be in the rear view mirro. We can’t assume it’s the last time it’s going to happen, we’re going to face this again. The landscape has changed so think how your business, bullet-proof your business, future proof your business, find a way to reshape it so you’ve multiple sources of income for the business coming into the future, instead of the one source you’ve got now.

I can see my kids downstairs something is going on so I’m going to have to go. I hope this has been useful to you, it’s Dr Ro signing off.

I’ll see you very soon.

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