Updated: Jul 14, 2021
CASHFLOW - CONTINGENCIES - COMMUNICATION
These 3x C’s seem to capture our current state of hot topics in business right now, after talking to a few clients the last few crazy weeks in particular.
(this is apart from many people now remote working - slowing or abnormal sales - kids at home - the focus on supermarket shopping - and the rest of us using hand sanitiser like never before!)
And as someone said the other day, ‘“it’s a bit like that limbo state between Xmas and New Years when your mind is half there and half not, some are on holidays and some are working and you are thinking about all things you don't normally think about - but without all the hospitality venues!” It is all a bit strange.
So really focusing on one thing at a time is more important than ever right now. As well as trying to batch any news and social media intake that will distract and unsettle our mindset.
But we have all had to deal with crazy times in life and in business - whatever industry you are in. Everything tends to operate on a cycle and being prepared for anything each day helps to clear your mind and get into action. With some simple techniques also, our minds can be quickly be programmed (or tricked) into being in a calm steady state of real productivity, or into an over-worried stressed out state of unproductive tension - or somewhere in between!
As many greats have quoted before, “'in any crisis you quickly see who's been swimming naked”, as it exposes the strengths and weaknesses of an operation. It will clean out the pretenders and copy cats, and although tough times, it will showcase the real genuine strengths of the businesses and brands that are the real deal.
Do what you can to keep it flowing. All small and medium sized businesses in particular always know it, and right now with this crazy shock to everything it's putting pressure on what is normal.
When people and companies start to panic and react to such an uncontrollable market shock, they tend to freeze!, which slows everything down, especially the flow of money.
But for everyone's sake, we need to keep cash flowing as normally as possible - to your suppliers and get out and ask (demand) your customers to pay to the agreed terms more than ever.
A great commercial accountant/finance manager will already be all over this - but the owner/manager, and even the team, need to all do their bit to ‘show me the money’, in a politely-pushy way of course.
Cash really is king and when everyone starts sitting on it, you need to swing into action. Leveraging your connections and communicating well is key.
Invoice quickly to save every day in the agreed terms, and keep the reminders flowing towards the due dates, to keep your payments ahead of the curve. Get onto any late payments instantly, so your customers know you are onto it and there is no real room to move.
Using automated reminders with dates - such as auto text and auto emails to the right people - is a great way to compliment the normal communication channels.
And be ready! Practice your responses beyond the normal answers (or excuses). Of course, in the current times we all need a little sensitivity to what's happening around us.
When uncertainty sets in, again many people freeze up especially when the health of loved ones or colleagues is at risk.
We are all feeling it one way or another - so draw up a plan of attack for all the various options from bad to worst. The what if’s?, that help you plan out the options of change and different courses of action.
We all tend to focus on Goal Setting regularly, but I love this approach by guru Tim Ferris called “Fear Setting”. It's a really great tool about planning for the worst to clear your head. Getting all options and scenarios down helps to give you clarity about what to do today and what to do with future contingencies. Plus it helps you pre-plan what to do if the worst does happen - you’ve planned for it, so you can relax more and get on with what you have to do today.
Even right now, there are 3x main scenarios that will eventuate for businesses:
Worst - we have to close up shop for now, but we will be back with full force when things recover.
Middle - we have put actions in place today to adapt and ride out the storm
Best - we will have a spike in sales in response to the market conditions
By writing down ALL the scenarios you can clear your head and get on with it. Plus you can calm your team and get them focused on the main game.
3) COMMUNICATION (and CARE factor)
Good clear and genuine communication is always very important any time, but in challenging times, it’s even more important.
Most companies tend to under-communicate and they even tend to over-recognise the level of top down communication. So consistent regular updates each day in a crisis will be very well received by your teams. They want to know more than you think and they want to know the whole picture, as if they were the ones leading. Talk to your teams, listen and let them talk, acknowledge the views and concerns and respond as honestly as you can in the changing situation. As a leader, a quick team update or group wide email is a great way to reinforce what the tasks are today.
You need real 'care factor' upstream to your suppliers and downstream to customers and their customers. You obviously need strong care factor for your people who are there for the team and the business, but have obvious understandable concerns about their job, their future and whatever is going on in their personal life.
This communication and care factor should all flow from your natural brand/company reputation and remember what you do today impacts short and long term when we are back to normal business.
The 3 C’s above highlights your business model’s strengths and weaknesses. Use the 'sudden need of certain action' as a reminder of things you need to fix or improve when the crisis passes.
Right now a personal touch will go a long way to humanise the health, wealth and happiness in the current challenge we face.
Your ability to focus, to flex or pivot to today's needs will showcase your ability to be and stay resilient through this time. Strong and reassuring leadership will help your teams get through!
May the force be with you!