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As the economy gradually opens, how do you reopen your business?

How you re-enter will depend on what the lockdown meant for your business. Some were completely shut, others were considered essential services but with limited operations. In many cases their supply chains were affected, especially initially, which in turn affected their customers. No business has been left unscathed by Corona, but there are certainly degrees, and the degree to which you were closed will affect the speed of your re-entry.

Listen to Aurik CEO Pavlo Phitidis speaking to Bruce Whitfield about this on The Money Show on 702 and CapeTalk:

What to expect going forward?

Pavlo’s take is that we will see waxing and waning of the levels – a loosening and tightening of the phases as we need to contain outbreaks over the next months.

As there is not a lot of clarity around how this will roll out, there will be a lot of uncertainty and confusion, as well as the emergence of a new normal in terms of living and working in uncertainty.

What is critical to manage amid all of this change is your own morale. And Pavlo uses the Kubler Ross curve.

When it comes to opening you business again, you have to consider:

  • Changes in customers – their lives have changed and if you don’t do things differently your customers will move on to someone who understands their new needs.
  • Your supply chain – if you don’t prepare for changes in your supply chain, you’re going to be caught short as there have been major disruptions throughout the economy. It is uncertain how long it may take to get everyone back online.
  • ‘Spending money’ has been obliterated. And regardless of whether you deal with consumers directly, you need to understand the impact of this on your clients, who are dealing with consumers.
  • A realistic sales projection. If you have put all your reserves into surviving the lockdown, is there anything left to cushion poor performance when you reopen? If your sales are only going to be at 50% of what they were – what needs to change to keep you afloat at that rate?
  • Your negotiating position when you rush back to your physical operations. The landlord who gave you leniency over the lockdown will now expect full payment – can you afford that?
  • Some things won’t change: the things often complained about most before Corona will still need to be dealt with, from compliance around labour laws and BBBEE to issues with power supply. You have to be conservative – hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Dealing with people

You need to deal with people with a completely different set of expectations than you had before the lockdown. Your team, customers, suppliers and network. Listen to what people say they need and test what works – then stick with that.

At the same time, be prepared for them to change their minds. There is a skittishness in the market, due to the uncertainty and which is often fed by social media news which plays to all our fears and all our biases.  So be careful of what you read, it can be detrimental and take you off your path of action.

Read from credible sources, then take a view. And stick with it. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by bad news, fake news and hype.

Stay online: Develop a pattern of digital engagement and stick to this even if you are back in the office, so that it is very easy to go back to digital engagements if we go back into a lockdown situation.

What NOT to do?

Don’t go back with full force.
Pavlo uses the analogy of a goat vs a leopard. A goat has horns which curl back behind it’s head, and when it goes into battle it puts its head down and charges forth – but when the target moves the goat carries on in the same direction

Rather approach your re-entry like a leopard. A Leapard stalks its prey by creeping three steps, stopping to check the wind; assess the the lay of the land, then takes three more steps and stops to assess again.  Proceed with caution, check what is and isn’t working and keep making the changes needed that work for you.

Be very cautious of the debt relief schemes – placing yourself in a position of indebtedness is scary, even though these loads may have come through on very favourable interest rates.  The economy is going to take time to recover so be cautious.


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