Maintaining business proactivity

By Philip Ingram MBE

Travel is being restricted, people are being told to work from home, meeting cancelled, companies are desperately trying to take business online and remote, events are cancelled or postponed. The great British wartime spirit is being displayed by most as the few riot over toilet rolls, panic buy on a first come first served basis, forget our elderly, our sick, it’s me first; but one thing will be at the back of everyone’s mind; “what next?”  This brings out the best in many if not most and the worst in some; a sad reflection on elements of our community. Businesses must be asking “how do I maintain my business proactivity?”

For businesses, many that can afford to are looking for ways to provide support to front line services. Only yesterday I was contacted by the investigation’s software company Altia-ABM asking for introductions to front line services who may benefit from their capabilities for free. We are seeing reports of major manufacturers like JCB and Dyson changing their production lines to make medical ventilators, we are hearing of distilleries switching to the production of alcohol-based hand gel (and not for internal use).

One thing is clear, the current COVID-19 pandemic is changing and will change the business landscape for some time to come if not make a permanent change. However, the first thing to recognise is that capabilities will still be needed, help provided, services delivered. The world is not stopping completely, so businesses that take a proactive approach are more likely to come out the other side of this crisis better than those that don’t. That is just simple logic.

So, what do I mean by a proactive approach in an environment with no meetings, increasingly restricted travel and no events? It is all about communicating, about informing, about contributing. It’s all about keeping a sense of perspective and as much of a sense of normality as possible. The crisis will pass, and a newer version of ‘normality’ will return so it is important that businesses don’t just disengage completely.

So how do you engage, what should you be doing?

First and foremost, inform, inform, inform. Keep your staff and customers up to date with what is happening. Ensure you have clear statements and contact details on the front of your websites if appropriate and in your telephone answering system.  You know who your main customers are, make sure you or your team are talking to them throughout this crisis.

Secondly, secure, secure, secure. Threats to your data, your IP are not going to go away and will likely increase over the crisis period. GDPR fines will not be waived for careless data breaches so ensure your working practices for remote working are as secure as your practices in the office.  Those that were a threat before COVID-19 hit are still a threat and will see this as an opportunity.  Be on the lookout for phishing, malware, ransomware and people exploiting online social engineering opportunities.

Thirdly, engage, engage, engage.  Don’t fall into the trap of isolating yourself, your business, your services. There are lots of ways to remain engaged. Talk to your suppliers and customers, keep them reassured. Publish articles, blogs, thought pieces, updates on your website and use email and social media to distribute them widely.  Engage on social media, a perfect way to keep your followers confident that all is as normal as it can be. Finally look for different opportunities to communicate. I am doing PODCASTS and will likely start restart VLOGS as well.  Webinars have long been an excellent way of delivering informed content and good debate.  The key to getting and maintaining your audience is to provide good informative content.

With all of the social media enabled communications means almost enabling the building of a virtual world, this is a perfect opportunity to stand out from the rest and show how progressive you can be making the transition back to proper normality that much easier. So, don’t sit and wat for something to happen, take the initiative and be proactive that is the key to standing out in this crisis