Sit Down Take a Breath. Don’t make management decisions based on Fear

At times like these we try to find answers and solace and place blame on what happens on somebody. It is human nature, but there is no one to blame. What we are are witnessing is the ability of the living earth to generate new life and diseases that has been going on for a millennia. The world is upside down right now and we are in a period of uncertainty as the world’s economies grinds to a halt, since the COVID-19 virus discovery.

The domino effect in all industries that is unfolding has caused a pause in marketing, investment and day to day purchases that affects everyone. What can we expect.? A market collapse like this can best compared to the events of 9/11 as the world went in to emergency lockdown mode as they are in now. SARS did not have the same ripple effect and COVID-19 is more widespread.  Right now we have more questions than answers.

What is your Next Step? Do you have an Action Plan?

What to think about next? When will the markets normalized? Three months, six months? The stock market has become very volatile and gas prices are falling fast. The best guess when the economy in Canada will start to recover is when schools comes back, as they are now closed until April 6 in Ontario and Universities are going online classes only. This can be considered the national quarantine period of 4 weeks since the WHO announced the Pandemic on March 11. You can hope things will start to get to normal by then on April 6 and the pandemic will be under control.

Update March 29, 2020: We have created a projected timeline on how the COVID-19 disruption will affect your business at this link

Don’t make decisions based on Fear

Recognize when fears become overwhelming. It’s normal to have fears. If your fear feels overwhelming, the distress from the fear can interfere with your ability to function as fear causes intense anxiety or panic. Reflect on your fears and notice how much they affect you and take a deep breath before you make a decision ( ie: 48 hour reflect period)

What is your Crisis plan?

But what do you do for this time period as workers are asked to work at home. Are you set up for a remote workforce? What are your contingency plans if it goes on longer? What do you do with staff as business will be very slow? Some companies will lay off staff and others may go on paid vacations. What is your cash flow going to be? Governments are gearing up for economic relief for affected business and workers to keep the economy stable. A crisis plan is an essential tool at this time and we have posted a check list of what is involved in a crisis plan on the Office Today website here.

What is your Remote Office Strategy? How will you stay in Touch with Customers?

Sococo Virtual Office

The first thing most small companies will face is setting up a remote workforce during the quarantine period this should be a priority. There is a free service that can do the trick that will set up your staff in a virtual office set-up that they can invite customers to, where you can exchange information and video chat all online. This service is provided by Sococo and you get a two free week trial here. You can integrate Sococo in your supply chain and give a virtual office to your biggest customers.

What is your Sales Promotion Plan?

What are your plans to kick start your business when things get back to normal. You will need a sales promotion plan to stimulate sales in place and typically you will see price discount promotions when there is a market downturn. If you are dependent on foreign markets like the USA market , these markets may take longer than Canada to get back to normal.

7 Tips in Managing a Crisis

Here are the 7 tips from Bruce Good, a management consultant at Connective Intelligence, who has learned about how to deal with major business disruption.  These tips based on his experience comes as a result of living through Y2K with IBM and Sars with IMS and the advice of managements consultants

1. Communicate, communicate,  communicate…., internal and external, remember your purpose as an organization

2. Ensure the safety of employees

3. Establish a dedicated team to deal with the issue, not just HR, recommend the cross-functional team

4. Know your stress points and liquidity/cash flow options

5. Don’t forget your clients!!

6. Document your supply chain and assess risk and response alternatives

7. Identify the decision-making process and clear areas of responsibility to all and if necessary set up the “WarRoom” to meet frequently!!

Don’t worry the worst is over according to the Mercury Retrograde

Here is fun fact to take a more lighter view of the situation. The events coincide with the first Mercury Retrograde period (this happens 3x a year) from Feb 17 to March 10. According to the age-old practice of astrology, we are all influenced by the effect of Mercury in retrograde. During this time, it appears as if Mercury is traveling backwards. These time periods are when Mercury is in retrograde motion, or simply “Mercury retrograde.” 

These times in particular are traditionally associated with confusions, delay, and frustration. Think email blunders and frazzled travel plans. (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?) The advice, when Mercury is retrograde, is to remain flexible, allow extra time for travel, and avoid signing contracts. Double check your email responses, check in with reservations before you take that trip. Review projects and plans at these times, but wait until Mercury is direct again to make any final decisions. The WHO Pandemic announcement came on March 11. What an erie coincidence