Your five-phase coronavirus contingency plan for small business
Kerwin Rae

For seven or eight years now, I have been banging on about the importance of having a contingency plan in case of a global emergency.

Planning is always crucial but planning for the unexpected is often the difference between who stays in business and who gets left behind.

If you don’t have a contingency plan and you’re shitting bricks, take a deep breath and let me show you in five simple steps how to get your shit together and get through this.

Let me start by saying, this is the greatest opportunity for innovation, adaptation and business transformation that I’ve ever been a witness to.

Make no mistake, this will be a defining period of time for many future empires, families, and businesses that will not only survive but ultimately thrive in a new world that is ultimately unfolding before us.

As we discover and identify these opportunities it’s important that we prepare not just for ourselves but also for the ones that depend upon us, our families and our loved ones.

Turn off all distractions, get your head in the game, and read this like your business and your lifestyle depends upon it.

Phase one- Go remote

If your city announced a lockdown tomorrow, could your business still operate?

Does your team have all their equipment? Can you still serve your customers at a high level?

Will you be scrambling to get your shit together or will you be completely okay because you prepared for this and got remote-ready BEFORE shit hits the fan?

I know where I am in this scenario, do you know where you are? Are you ready? Get on it, immediately.

Now, I know there’s a lot of service industry businesses that can’t do business as usual from a laptop.

Well, now you’re about to have the whole country at home, bored, and on their devices looking for entertainment.

This is the perfect time to establish or build on your online presence. Think tutorials on YouTube, funny Instagram skits or memes, interesting articles and blog posts.

It’s survival of the fittest, people.

Phase two- Streamline

To stay in business we need to try to stay profitable or at the very least conserve losses to a point where we can focus on more sales at this time.

You need to focus on income-generating activities, high-level strategy, and trimming the fat and don’t forget to also be delivering at a high-level to ensure a great customer experience to encourage more people to buy with you at this time.

Now is the time for calm, coherent, high level, strategic thinking.
Take a good birds-eye look at your company, operations, and organisation chart.

Who’s essential? Who’s not? Who can be moved to other remote-friendly tasks?

How does your marketing strategy need to change if people are on lockdown? Do you realise doubling down on social media at this point is the most important thing you can do as you now have a captive audience? Are you planning on capitalising on that?

Will your sales and customer service strategy operate differently without a shop-front?

You’ll need to find a way to take your products and services online, or potentially create new offerings like delivery, webinars, or online courses.

What skills or value can you now provide in a remote environment or online that you never considered before?

And from a finance and talent perspective, you’ll need to be objective and focus on the whole and not the individual parts as much when making strategic decisions that affect the lives of every single person in the company, not just one or two.

Talent that can’t operate remotely will need to be put on some sort of leave, whether it’s with or without pay (be sure to seek legal advice before doing anything rash that might come back to bite you when things turn around).

As much as we want to avoid lay-offs at this stage, you’ll need to prepare to let people go in the next phase…

Phase three- Drastic

Phase three is about survival, where we look at the main things required in order to operate and stay afloat.

What operational requirements does your business need to stay open and functioning?

What marketing and sales resources does your business need to serve customers and attract more sales?

If it seems all doom and gloom, just know that this process is literally transforming your business in ways you never thought possible.

Perhaps this scenario made you realise you can take your business remote and have more free time than ever before.

Perhaps you realised you can be more productive with less overhead costs like rent and other services.

Balance that perspective people, it’s crucial at a time like this.


Phase four- Wind-up

Don’t stay open and drive your company into the ground because you’re too stubborn to close the doors.

I always say that no man is more important than the mission, including me.

If my company required it, I’d shut it down in a heartbeat if it meant we could bounce back and help more people than ever before when things turn around.

Bankruptcy is not the end of the world. I’ve studied billionaires for years and I can’t think of a single one who hasn’t had a company go bankrupt at some point.

You’re the captain of this ship and there’s no use driving it into a coral reef because you feel some obligation to go down with the ship.

Look at your tools, your capital, your resources, and make a conscious and educated decision.

If that means closing shop and re-entering the market in the future, then that’s what is required.

I’d much rather have you preserve capital in order to come back than use it all in a desperate bid that could potentially be psychologically damaging that could prevent a comeback in the future.

Phase five- Bounce back

We don’t know when this will blow over, but eventually it will and we need to be ready because it will, and act just as quickly when it does.

Maybe that means going back to how things were before, your face to face services and shop fronts, like nothing ever happened, however now you have new innovations and adaptations and will be more streamlined, more profitable, and performing better than ever before.

Perhaps you’ve completely re-arranged your business structure and now want to operate online all year round, because you have more freedom than ever before.

And some of you might even be re-opening your businesses after making the strategic decision to shut down for a period of time.

Just know that it’s imperative to keep a balanced perspective. There will be risks and there will be opportunities.

But planning, consciousness, and sturdy leadership will allow you to make the best decisions for your legacy.

If you’ve read through and want some extra guidance, I am offering a limited amount of #CoronaReady Strategy Sessions with my senior consultants.

But, they are filling up quickly so be sure to jump on it quickly – only the strong will survive!