(Well actually 4, I’ve decided to throw this one in before we even start!):
Try to stop panicking - I understand, of course I do - the economic knock on from this is affecting all of us, let alone the concerns we share for vulnerable members of our family etc.
However, one thing I try to live by as much as possible, is to make sure I don’t worry about things I can’t control - with all the news of people dying etc. coming out every day, it’s scary, however, first of all, try to keep a perspective - unless you are an ‘at risk’ individual then the odds (based on what has been learnt so far in China and Italy) are that you are going to be OK. Unfortunately, of course, people are dying, but I truly believe the government should release those figures as a % of the people who are dying every day from all causes.
“Another 10 people died in the UK today from Coronavirus” is a scary headline - however if it was announced as “Of the 1500 people (the average amount of people who die every day in the UK) who died today - 10 were because of the Coronavirus - 0.6%”, it doesn’t sound so scary.
Obviously it’s still tragic (which the deaths of all of the other 1500 people are too of course) and we should care deeply about it and be doing everything possible to reduce that figure - I’m just saying it helps to have a clear mind (which is very hard if it’s in panic mode) - and boy do we need clear minds right now!
So try to keep a perspective and let’s focus on action that we can take rather than the paralysis that comes with panic and fear.
So what can you control? Well I’m not here to give out the same advice we are being given from all sources - wash hands - stay away from ‘at risk’ people etc. My job is to help you focus on what you CAN do to help minimise the risk to your business.
This is what I do when a salon owner is worried about stylists leaving and the impact it will have on the business - and therefore isn’t managing them with any strength, in case the stylists leave and the salon loses their sales!
So, obviously a different scenario, but actually quite similar in a way.
The ‘Safety Net Strategy’ is based on a ‘what if’ - what if the worst thing happened and that by toughening up on standards etc., the whole team walked out (probably wouldn't happen of course - but in my experience it’s the fear of it happening that stops people managing their business properly). Let’s apply that same strategy to what we are all facing right now.
First of all, I work out how the business would survive if that were to actually happen (i.e. all staff walk out) and create a plan - a worst way plan. I know it sounds negative but it’s actually to build confidence. That plan may never have to be implemented, but knowing you have it, allows you to take control with the confidence that you can survive the worst case scenario - I always point out that it wouldn’t be easy - of course it won’t - but, at least you have a plan!!
So, I’ve put these 3 steps together based on a worst way scenario; that you may have to close for a period of time, either through Self Isolation or from Government restrictions. The plan is still relevant of course, even if you aren’t closing your salon completely but are being affected dramatically, or just want a contingency plan in case.
STEP 1 - RUTHLESS BUDGETING
STEP 2 - FINANCIAL SOLUTIONS
STEP 3 - PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE
Time for a ruthless financial assessment and budget. Go through your outgoings in detail and identify what can be deferred if needed until we have a clearer idea of the future.
Your individual cash situation will determine how ruthless you need to be of course, however I would suggest that you prioritise small/medium business over large corporations and Government as they will be in a similar space to yourself and the more we help each other the better we will all be when this is over. The boutique product manufacturer, local or even national distributor will be having a tougher time than the L’Oreal’s and Wella’s etc. So support local and small/medium sized business if you can...
The lists will obviously be specific and dependent on you and your situation, but here are some guidelines:
To be clear - I’m not talking about just randomly not paying people or trying to get away with not paying, that would clearly be unethical and poor business practice - I’m simply saying, that if you don't have the money due to this crisis - you have to have some way to prioritise who does get paid.
Plus - this is just a plan - I’m not saying this is what you do, just what you might have to do if... The whole idea is to give you the confidence that you will survive a worst case scenario - one way or another.
Okay - now - the critical bit; for lists 1,2 and 3; YOU MUST BE IN CONTACT WITH EVERYONE - don’t just put your head in the sand and assume they will understand - they are more likely to understand and be helpful if you communicate with them - please, please, please take that advice on or this won’t have a chance of working! Even if they are not being helpful, at least they can’t say you didn’t advise them of any difficulties.
As tough as this may sound, try to keep a positive focus - this is not about ego or pride it's about survival and the simple rule is; if you can’t pay - you can’t pay! Just to be clear, we’re not talking about taking advantage of the situation - just the simple fact that if there isn’t any money to pay your rent for example, then no amount of stress or sleepless nights will change that - only negotiaton with your landlord will solve it.
Okay, once you’ve drawn up those lists, you will have a better understanding of your exposure - how much you need to cover per week/month to stay in business short term. This is critical to STEP 2 as you won’t get support without having the right figures and projections in place...
So from STEP 1, you will see what income you need to achieve as a minimum, to stay ahead of the game! Now let’s look at what possible solutions you may have:
Okay - that was all a bit depressing wasn’t it - but unfortunately necessary. However, can you see that by working through STEP 1 - your worst way scenario - your safety net strategy, it gives you the confidence to look positively forward at what you can do to make sure you don’t need it. Remember I told you that I use this when someone is scared that stylists are going to leave the salon - having the confidence that even if they do, it will be OK - going through this process, allows them to take proper control over their business and move forward - that’s all I’m trying to do for you here.
Okay, now let’s be more positive and look at what you can do with the extra time you may have. After all - the biggest excuse I get from people who aren’t taking action on the things they need to is - “I don’t have the time”
People want content - not the back of someone's head or yet another pic of perfect nails. They are looking online for help and advice - hair and beauty Youtube channels are getting millions of views and most of them are crap - so why are they getting the views? - because people want advice - but we professionals aren’t giving it! Let’s use this time to regain the space that should be ours but isn't - because we let amateurs in their bedroom take over the space. Learn, be brave and create some great content that is useful to your client - this way you are not only staying connected to your clientele in these challenging times and keeping them loyal, but you are also developing a new opportunity for your future, as you start to experiment and understand the new way that business communicates today.
That’s just a few ideas - there is so much you could be doing to use this time productively - reviewing or creating standards in your business, working on a financial plan for your business - a marketing plan etc. All I will say, is that if you are forced to close your business for a period of time or to self isolate - then use that time well and you might just look back and see it as a blessing in disguise - who knows!
Phew - that was a lot of work - I hope it helps a bit. I’m not daft, I know it will take more than just a long post from me to make a difference in these crazy times, but hopefully it helps a bit!
It will be tough - of course, but coming out the other side will be just as tough and it’s essential that you use this time to prepare your business for the future.
I hope this has been of some help to refocus your mind from panic to practical.
This article is based on the opinions and experience of the author, Alan Austin-Smith and should not be seen as representing any official or legal position.
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