Tommy-Lee Zmuda, installer and founder of The Boiler Business, on what businesses can do to adapt to ensure they come out the other side of the coronavirus pandemic in one piece.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business? Has it made you look at your expenditures and reluctantly dip into your savings? Has it made you change the way you operate your business?

At the time of writing this, we are just a few weeks into the lockdown. Hopefully, by the time of reading, it will have passed, and we will all be back in the van earning some money again. 

But, what have we learnt from the unimaginable? We have learned that building a larger business with weak foundations is more likely to end with it toppling over. Also, every business, business owner, and their family are different from the next, and some can weather the storm better than others.

You will have noticed that some businesses will have taken the government’s advice to stay at home at an early stage of the lockdown while others carried on working, as safe as possible. 

Because of government policies, some businesses felt forced to work to support their families. At the same time, some looked at the opportunity to earn with less competition and increased urgency from the public. 

There is no right or wrong for those that wanted to help the public. Helping that young family with kids, the old lady across the street, or that key worker needing hot water – those engineers and businesses have been heroes to them and their families at an extremely worrying time. 

Three pillars
How we adapt in a moment of crisis is based on the three most essential resources available to us – time, money, and knowledge.

Before the outbreak, most people that you asked were struggling with time. Every waking hour filled to the brim with self-inflicted ‘busyness’, chasing more and more work, yet often too ‘busy’ to invest time improving their long term finances.

With the summer months around the corner and the financial after-shock of COVID-19 set to slow the market for non-essential work, many of us will find much more time available than we are used to having in our busy lives.

No matter what your bank statement is currently showing, we all have had to make cuts to ensure that the cash in the bank lasts that little bit longer. 

We will all be asking the same question – “how and where can we get more money?” If you are one of the businesses with smaller outgoings and substantial cash reserves, you can afford more time to answer this question.

Profit First Day
Those that have read the book Profit First by Mike Michalowicz will be nodding your head as you read this. Now more than ever, Mike’s business classic is essential reading for the survival of small businesses. I encourage you to open up the calendar/diary and pencil in a monthly ‘Profit First Day’. 

After reading/listening to the book, use your monthly ‘Profit First Day’ to assess your financial situation and ascertain where you can trim costs, research and negotiate for better supplies, and analyse other essential data throughout your business. You are now taking a full day out every month crunching numbers, making your business leaner, more profitable, and built to last.

Time to learn
The COVID-19 outbreak probably will be the final straw for many businesses from many different industries. Yet those that quickly adapt and change will thrive in the coming months and years. 

What extra time we invest now in learning and, more importantly, the implementation, will pay back in higher profits for the future. The knowledge might even open up a brand new source of income, giving you more options for your family’s future.

So, how will you adapt? What are you going to change? Will you change the type of customers that you serve? Will you change the type of services that you offer? If so, how will you market your business in a changing industry? Will you focus all resources on your business? Will you place some eggs in other baskets? 

How will you invest your time, money, and knowledge?

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