The Business Exchange Swindon & Wiltshire Edition 49: June/July 2020 - Page 18

COMMUNITY VOICES SUPPORTING BUSINESSES TH Since lockdown began, ActionCOACHES Peter and Joanne Ro centre of the business support effort for our region. Making ‘Little Black Book’ of contacts, gleaned through their work a ActionCOACH network and through hosting their annual Sou Summit, the team have pulled together to host a programme sessions to help business leaders navigate these challenging Zoomed with Peter to find out more about what the team has How have you been supporting businesses during lockdown? Lockdown was always going to be a severe business interruption, and whilst the ‘Stay Home, Save Lives and Protect the NHS’ was the focus for the Government, it was clear our focus needed to be on supporting our community, preparing for the future and saving businesses. That is exactly what we set out to do. We started by moving all clients to weekly sessions on Zoom (with more support as needed). We created a ‘hub’ of knowledge for emerging stages built around the information provided via various media, clients ‘on the ground’ in various locations around the world and our international ActionCOACH network. We added two webinars per week. Tuesday at 8.30am to provide motivation, ideas and support from the very best, Paul Dunn, Philip Hesketh, Jim Lawless, Steve Judge and our local celeb Alison Edgar to name just a few. Friday at 9am to provide expert information on subjects relevant to businesses right now, from the HR Department to the British Business Bank. With a team capable of giving solid business guidance for most situations we have, and continue to offer, gifted advise sessions to any business looking to drive their business through the coming weeks and months. How has the crisis affected your business? Well to start with we have become crazy busy with dealing with what is now ‘normal’ (I don’t believe there is a ‘new normal’… rather normal is just what we need to adapt to and work with… and the normal we have this week is likely to be different again next week). Our revenues, along with those of many clients, have taken a massive hit, and we are grateful to the clients who have been able to help us through the last few months, as indeed we hope all our clients appreciate the support we offer (their feedback would suggest so which is incredible). There were tears when we left our office, The Progress Shed, to work from home and splitting our team has been hard on us all. Exciting times though as we are currently building offices within our event space to create our ‘socially (together) distanced’ offices. In your experience, how are businesses coping? Businesses are in various stages coming through this time. Initially we modelled the emotional journey against that of the seven stages of grief, working through the shock and denial to anger and depression before progressing to the hope and rebuild – this has been surprisingly accurate. Few businesses have been unaffected, some have gained, the vast majority have been pushed into an enforced state of paralysis. Many have stayed there. More and more are waking up and driving forward. As small businesses there is a strength and resilience that needs to be recognised. Businesses can and will cope… if they don’t they will struggle to recover or even survive. So, if we refer to Steve Judge’s model, the wave or resilience. Businesses started in a state of shock and denial, for most this has now passed. Many are now waking up to a degree of anger (the news is fuelling this at the moment, hindsight gives them an amazing ability to point out the failings of decisions made). Frustratingly many are colluding in the ‘doom and gloom’ approach, the “there’s nothing we can do about it”, the “we’ll just have to see where it goes” approach, to my mind this isn’t coping, it is staying firmly back in denial! So, at this point, coping = action. It is getting things moving to sell your way forward, to find a route and create a plan, flexible and clear enough to follow. How are they adapting? Well that depends on the business. All our clients are adapting and changing to the current situation. I say current because things are moving so fast at the moment. For some the primary job is to survive, for others to transform and for others to perform. This has involved some running deliberate strategies to create new contacts, others to completely re-invent the business to reach different and new markets and for others to reposition themselves, their marketing, systems and teams to give themselves the opportunity to not only bounce back but to bounce higher! What are the biggest challenges? Wow, well the challenges are rolling. Cash flow was an initial fear for many, working from home, how to market, what to sell, when to sell, how to move forward. Then, how to manage the team, how to lead the team, how to keep motivation and how to move forward. Now, when to get back to the office / workplace, whether to remain at work, who to un-furlough, when to un- 10