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What Novichok taught me, that might help you with Covid-19

What Novichok taught me, that might help you with Covid-19

I have been here before. An uninvited agent is out there that no-one really knows a lot about. The media has hyped it up a lot, and is providing a whole host of conflicting information, that ultimately spins everyone into a panic.

Last time this happened I owned a small independent shop in the heart of the beautiful city of Salisbury. It was a little over two years ago, so is still quite fresh in my mind. That time it was a man-made, highly deadly nerve agent.

But in the days, weeks and months after the ‘attack’, it had a very real impact on my business. I want to share with you what what that time taught me, now that the whole country is experiencing a similar situation.

Firstly, the Novichok incident had immediate devastating effects on my business; my sales dropped overnight by about 75% as people avoided the city centre. It was also out of the blue, unplanned for and my small business was not ready to take this hit.

At the time, I was already living each month to pay the bills, just getting by, and such a drastic drop in sales put me into a place of thinking that my business might not make it to the end of the next month. I worked out I that probably had about two weeks left in the business if things didn’t improve.

But, rather than simply accepting the inevitable defeat, it made me think about what I could do differently. It made me analyse my business and think more deeply about how prepared I was for something like this.

Because unexpected events can happen at anytime and to any business; a large unexpected bill, flooding, fire, or a new virus.

Often, as business owners we only really think about ‘what if’, when things are actually hurting us.

But it’s too late by then!

It took about a year for sales in Salisbury to get back up to the pre-Novichok days, meaning that the critical quarter four for retailers was not anywhere where I needed it to be. After a year of sustained pain, my fragile business was broken. I finally had to admit defeat. I, along with a LOT of high street retailers, closed my doors in Salisbury within a year of the Novichok event.

I could blame Novichok for the demise of my small independent shop, but, in truth, the business was flawed long before Novichok hit it.

So, what did I learn from the Novichok incident that might help you now? I learnt that a well functioning business, one that is set up to run at optimum, one that doesn’t run on the back foot, will be able to deal with the inevitable ‘bumps’ along the way much better than a business that is just ‘winging it’.

If your business is flawed, events like this will show the cracks in all their glory. There is no avoiding that, I’m afraid.

It can be hard to face, but sometimes, you do need to admit failure and move on to something bigger and better. Maybe the business needs a new direction, a new source of leads, a new way to connect with your customers.

A business is not healthy if it is just getting by each month, not healthy for you, the business owner, and not healthy for the business or staff either.

I was once asked what would you do if you needed to find £80,000 tomorrow in your business? Could you do it?

It wouldn’t be too hard for a healthy business, in good credit to achieve this, Even if you don’t have that sort of cash in your bank, there are ways for a business in good shape to raise that sort of capital.

And what if finding that sort of money, meant your business would either survive or die?

Sometimes, these events can actually help us. Without the Novichok event I may have been able to stay in my flawed business much longer than I should have, each month ‘just getting by’. But because of the incident I was forced to re-evaluate what I wanted, what I should be doing and make the changes I needed to. In my case that meant closing down one business to start another, and now I’m in a business that I love, that is sustainable and can withstand the storms much better.

A storm, more than likely, will come for you and your business. Running a business is never always plain sailing. If not this current crisis, then something else will be along to test you at some point.

It’s your job to make sure your business is in shape before it hits!

I always try my hardest to stay positive and always look on the bright side. The bright side to this story is, it might actually push you into better business decisions. So don’t fret, there is a way out, and while it might not be the path you expected, it might surprise you.

Hang in there and keep going. I’ve been here before and I’m still here.

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