|Business Crisis Expert|Disability , Business, Mental Health Activist| Researcher
Since the inception of the Covid-19 lockdown process in New Zealand, commencing midnight Sunday 15 March 2020, business owners and those of their staff, will change dramatically.
Don’t let anybody say their struggle is greater than yours or that you have to be strong, resilient, positive, and calm. Many are in a business crisis situation – with very little or any preparation of a Pandemic that’s hit close to home.
Some will fight through all this and come out the other end, and some will freeze (because of shock), not knowing what to do or where to start.
You are the only one who knows your body like you do. You are the only one who understands your thought processes during this time. Anxiety will kick in – without you even realising it. Your feelings are valid, your thoughts are too – as are your concerns for the here and now, and the future. Your future. Your staff’s future – if that applies.
It doesn’t matter how many people tell you how you should be coping through this virus that has reeked havoc on your business, a crisis is a crisis. If you are a business owner it’s a business crisis – for many. If people don’t get it or get you (you shouldn’t have to explain yourself to them), it’s their problem – not yours.
Many business owners/staff will be experiencing varying degrees of shock. Everyone is wired differently. Not everyone with anxiety is going to have the same symptoms. Not everyone with depression is going to ‘seem’ like they have depression. Not everyone will experience an adjustment disorder or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Everyone single person you know since the Covid-19 outbreak in New Zealand, is fighting something. Financial worries, the future, their families, mortgages, loans, food, health, wellbeing, etc. You may feel yucky one day, and feel great the next day.
If you didn’t have a business continuity plan, you can still put a very simple one together – using simple bullet points (go to the Corona Virus/Covid-19 page of this website and locate the link to the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment).
Not everyone is going to be resilient. Even the most resilient business people you know, may suddenly appear less resilient. (Emotional pain wears many masks).
It’s a vulnerable time for many business owners. Desperately searching for answers, you may not get the right advice from people including those you have contracted in to help you with the specialist areas of your business – finance, etc.
If you find people are making significant decisions for you – sleep on it before deciding whether it’s the right decision.
There’s alot of information available on social media. Some suggesting what you could do, or should have done. Let me tell you, you have done your best.
At the recent NZ Mental Health Conference held at the Christchurch Town Hall Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 March 2020, I spoke about business loss – the impact on mental health – the disconnect and the human cost.
Speaking from my own experience of business loss, I reminded people that no one is gifted with such remarkable clairvoyance that they can see what’s going to happen in the future, after they buy a business.
For me, I didn’t know my mother was going to die three years later. I certainly didn’t know that I was going to be hit with the news of multiple progressive illnesses two weeks before she passed. I’d always maintained good health..
It is hard not to want to give people business advice during Covid-19, but I know from experience post-business loss, that every business owner at the moment has a story to tell. Their story of how this virus has impacted on their business, livelihood, staff, family, etc. Different industries require different skill and knowledge sets, more staff, less staff, etc.
So long as you stay in the driver’s seat of your business, you can’t be led down the wrong track. Trust your gut instincts, if it doesn’t feel right – it isn’t right.
Business continuity planning will be changing in the future – with the integration of resilience into that planning. Business continuity plans may be put in place, but crisis management (CM) skills also need to be right. If incorrect, this could lead to wrong decisions being made when an ‘event’actually occurs and putting everyone at risk.
(Note well: IT-related risks are on the increase too).
Being in business is like a journey. Travelling from one destination to another. The ride can be smooth, or bumpy. You may stay on this road, or you could change direction at any given point of the journey. Like events that interrupt your business, some can be predicted, while others evolve from nowhere unexpectedly. No one ever told me this when I first went into business. Now I’m sharing this gem of wisdom with you.
I have found this quote particularly helpful – and many of you who have experienced significant trauma will be able to relate to it: ‘Never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down.’