Business in Lockdown: Dealing with uncertainty
Lockdown poses many problems for small businesses; uncertainty, closures, restrictions and strained cashflow mean making informed decisions are near impossible. How we deal with uncertainty now is critical to future success.
“All the people in business I know just want to crack on, but when will it end? Mid May? Schools going back in June? Another 18-months? – I’ve read many mixed messages this week, and this all compounds uncertainty”, explains Jonathan Ratcliffe from Serviced Office agents Offices.co.uk
Uncertainty in business is a poison, its why businesses prefer a steady economy with level-headed Government. Uncertainty prevents logical decisions and creates a state of panic which can ultimately lead to poor decision making. The virus has put many businesspeople with normally calm and calculated decision-making processes into a state of panic, and it is not a healthy place to be.
“The first week was the worst, in a few days we saw business collapse, 80% down on new enquiries”, says Ratcliffe, “but now it seems to be picking up again, so should we be pressing ahead full speed spending cash reserves or should I be cautious? I know I’m not alone in not knowing what I should be doing”.
To deal with uncertainty it is important to step aside from daily tasks and take time out to plan. Only by stepping aside can you clear a path through troubling times and see a more positive future.
Using the allotted exercise time to escape your home office can do wonders for clearing your mind of day to day troubles and help you think more logically towards the future.
We recommend these six pointers in coping with uncertainty:
Accept what has happened
The first step to dealing with uncertainty is to accept what has happened. Taking stock of events and the new norm helps you clarify in your own mind your new position. Understanding that you might not always be in control is scary but helps you put behind negative events and focus a new effort towards being more flexible in the future.
Easier said than done. This is a very tough thing to do if your life has fallen apart. Certainly, taking stock of the then, the now and the future is critical in being able to turn a negative situation into something more positive. This step can take time.
Reflect on the past
The past in terms of Coronavirus was not so long ago, and so it is important to remember that good times aren’t so far away again. Use this time to think about what you would have changed, how you could improve and how you would like to be. In business, you can be critical, think about your business as someone else looking in – how would you change things?
Many are spending time in isolation, and with less workload there may be the opportunity to learn new skills and processes. Podcasts are great for learning from industry veterans, knowing you aren’t alone and how they see the future to be. You can use their insight to plan in your head how business will change and how you can benefit from it.
Planning is difficult in times of uncertainty. However, the general basics of business are still relevant, it’s just the landscape that has changed. Try and work on the fundamentals such as human relationships, getting on top of admin tasks and planning out different scenarios all help your mind get ready for the future. You need to be in control.
Flexibility in all walks of life is a strong skill. We hear about agility, adaptability and flexibility as key traits in successful people. Laziness is not being prepared. Use this time to adjust your outlook in life, by being back in control, you regain a feeling of preparedness that will help you over the next year or so.
“The mental toll on all businesspeople during Coronavirus is not to be underestimated, so we all need to put aside time to think through recent events, take stock and get ready for what’s next. We all need to work together to try and be positive, because the future is bright”, concludes Jonathan Ratcliffe.