You Are Quarantined, Now What? The SARS-CoV-2 aka COVID-19 and

Many countries have opted for declaring a preventive quarantine for their inhabitants. In Spain, where I live, a State of Alarm has been decreed, most of the businesses are closed and we only can get out of our houses in very specific cases. Other countries have done the same, calling for a lock down, then let’s say we’re all quarantined.

How to face the quarantine

We all are facing personal and business challenges while we are forced to stay at home. I’m sharing a few tips to help you maintain your sanity, as well as some more business specific tips to help you and your business navigate this “emergency”.

Tips to maintain your sanity 

After reading some articles and watching few videos on how to maintain your sanity in times of lock down and uncertainty, I found that Emily Austen’s article How Small Businesses Can Survive Coronavirus and Brian Moran’s video Corona Response, have useful tips which I’m sharing below with few ones from my own inspiration, to help you cut through the noise and protect yourself and your business.

  • Watch out your mindset and take care of yourself. The only thing you can control under these circumstances is your thinking and attitude. It’s very important that you pay attention to your thoughts line. To help you manage stress which is almost inevitable in uncertain times, take time for some physical exercise; take food that is rich in nutrients; take enough sleep; listen to positive podcasts; etc.
  • Prepare a daily agenda. Yes, you might think I’m crazy, but now more than ever you need to maintain a sense of purpose and feel productive. You still have dreams and goals, let them guide you. Go back to your plan, adjust your objectives for the next few weeks to reflect the situation and set daily actions, one or two of those you still can take despite the lock down. Be disciplined with your daily tasks and please, celebrate what you’ve achieved that day, now that your productivity and habits are challenged, it’s super important to recognise your wins.
  • Curate the channels through which you are downloading information. Limit your news alerts to those most relevant, and check which Instagram and Twitter accounts you need to mute. The distraction of reading constantly about Coronavirus is unproductive at best and destructive at worst.
  • Curate what you post. If you’re using social media personally or for business, you always can choose what you share. There is already a lot of info circulating that is adding to the fear and uncertainty of the moment. If you can’t post something positive, good news or how you’re using your talents, creativity and inventive to make these days better for others, please DO NOT post at all.
  • Explore or learn something new. There might be something you’ve been wanting to explore or learn, but maybe you haven’t taken the time to do it. These days some experts have released lots of training and tools for free. Therefore,  why don’t you find out what your most admired expert is offering, so you can learn something new from her/him?
  • Tighten your belts. Any extra cost cutting needs to be done today. This includes: minimise travel, cancel non-essential subscriptions, reduce online sponsored posts, reduce or eliminate meetings to reduce expenses, pause any large costs that could be undertaken at a later stage.
  • Include intentional time with your family in your daily agenda. Set a period of time in your agenda for family interaction,  and include some playing, reading or a virtual visit to some of the most amazing museums in the world, for example.  

Tips to navigate the situation as a business

Here are some business specific tips, I hope will help you go through this. In addition to the sources mentioned earlier, I’m using tips from Tim Berry in his article Startups in Times of Crisis and the Webinar How Startups Can Cope with Coronavirus and an Economic Recession hosted by the Founder Institute on 18-03-2020.

  • Review your numbers. Start with your sales forecast, then your direct costs, budgeted expenses and other indicators, such as staff numbers, etc. and compare them with your current numbers, to see how your business was doing until this “emergency” was declared. As said in Part 1 of this series, if your business is not yet profitable, aim for a 25% general expense cut or for a 20% if it’s profitable.
  • Review and revise your plan. As the scenario used to plan your year has changed in the 1st quarter, use your planning process to go back to your expected outcomes and assumptions and update them, rework your plan under this new scenario. Have your long-term goals changed? Does your strategy have to change? Update your plan and strategies accordingly, but DO NOT abandon your plan. In chaos, having a plan is even more important than in normal times.
  • Know your risk and use it in your planning. Review your contracts and insurance policies, to get familiarised with what might not be covered by them. Map your scenarios, the best and the worst case scenario and work backwards from there. What is the most vulnerable position your business could be in? What are the protective measures you could take to avoid that? If the worst case becomes your reality, what would you do? Small businesses should be setting up Wave one, two and three, in terms of redundancies, cost cutting and predictive mapping.
  • Offer a Coronavirus discount. In addition to tightening your belt and reducing your marketing spending, find out what discount would work for your business and proactively offer a discount to your customers. Ask also your vendors and suppliers for a discount. 
  • Set clear parameters for your team. Create a daily plan, including: What time does the team have to check in? Which channels are you using to do this? What is your expectation in terms of lunch breaks, and leaving their computer? Will you allow your team to recharge the business for data on their phones? What time does the day end? Where are you logging your information? How are you keeping in touch with each other?
  • Define clear protocols and channels of communication with your team. If your company has decided to either work on a reduced journey or remotely, maintaining frequent communication might be key to avoid that your staff take their foot off the gas with regards to communication between teams and with the clients. Define your communication channels. Provide a guide for tone and content across all them, including email, Google Hangout, Zoom, WhatsApp, Slack, etc. Ensure that there is a clear route through these different channels, and what your expectation is of their use of them.
  • See the opportunities. This situation might introduce a new way of working and doing business. Look for new ways to serve your clients and customers. What value can you bring in these challenging times? Are there potential income avenues you haven’t explored yet? Are there solutions to the current issues that you can provide?
  • Strengthen your leadership. Now more than ever it’s important to show your leadership, talk to your team, listen to their concerns, guide them so that they can handle the situation, remind them of what they can control, and lead them to be productive. Remember, this too will pass.

In the 3rd and last part of this series, I’ll share with you what you can do now to begin to prepare yourself and your business for when this “emergency” is over.