Dublin by night

A great number of SME businesses have been impacted by Covid-19 in Ireland and more than one-third had to shut completely during the lockdown. Many company leaders have been left in disarray on what to do next as the coronavirus crisis unfolds.

Good leadership is more needed now than ever to help companies rebound through their people, their core strengths and with the help of strong refinancing options. Below are some key tips for businesses to make it through the crisis and keep things moving forward.

A team motivated by the renewed success of their business

Business success only happens through teams motivated by growth. Communication is vital in order to realistically explain the situation regarding initial plans and how the company is looking at correcting it. By developing empathy, the emotional contract between companies and their employees will strengthen and become paramount in difficult situations.

Also essential is having a deep, one-to-one relationship with each employee to clearly understand their concerns and difficulties, as well as their hopes, and knowing what both can achieve in a world with new perspectives. Frequent team catch-ups to evaluate progress and how to help are necessary to reinforce the feeling of belonging to the business.

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A transition with kindness and understanding

The transition from office work to home office was made after St Patrick’s Day, in lots of cases without preparation. While this can be positive for companies to continue business and satisfy employees’ personal demands to support their families, achieving a renewed work-life balance is a daunting task that leaders must learn to manage with kindness.

Don’t forget to train your teams to use new tools — and know when it is time to have some breaks. Mental health and finding a new balance are important topics that cannot be ignored at this time. Utilising Zoom or Google Meet can be overwhelming for those who are not used to working with them.

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Creativity to reinvent the business is essential too, in line with the current health guidelines. Using the challenges created by the pandemic to look at what your businesses could bring to customers in a different way is crucial. Numerous businesses have made the move in Europe: painting, distilleries or perfume companies making hand sanitiser, waste management businesses making masks for people, etc.

Communicate with your customers, as they may have similar challenges. Thank them for their understanding and gather their ideas and their needs to serve them better.

Continue to think about contingency plans. The number of Covid-19 cases continues to increase daily across the world and may be back in Ireland at a higher level in a few months’ time. It’s time to start operating the business in different ways, instead of simply restarting the business like nothing has happened.

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Asking for help to restart the business

Optimising working capital is a mandatory requirement to continue to grow. Being paid before the terms of the contracts and paying suppliers accordingly can only create a virtuous growth circle in the ecosystem.

Businesses should be upfront about it, contacting both clients and suppliers to find concrete solutions to overcome potential finance problems. Inventory is also area to look at, in order to make sure companies that are trading goods don’t have too much or too little in stock, so that they can provide customers’ need as demand starts to rebound slowly.

Asking for support is definitely one thing not to forget. Indeed, businesses can avail of financial help from the government. Different types of support are being offered by Irish local authorities. The Credit Guarantee Scheme support loans up to €1m for periods up to seven years. It can be a massive help to save employment. Other business loans of up to €50,000 can also be obtained from Microfinance Ireland.

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Business associations like the IBEC, SFA or ISME have also created support networks to help company owners and entrepreneurs to get out of the crisis. Irish companies can avail of different schemes to allow their employees to receive an income through payroll. Contact your local authorities for more information, or at infobusinesssupport@dbei.gov.ie and (01) 631 2002.

We can encourage every business owner to use those difficult times to develop a holistic view of their business and understand how they can work better with their talents, customers and suppliers. It is only by taking a partnership view of the situation, with a win-win approach, that individuals, from leaders to employees, will grow bigger, powering a happier and healthier community.

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Guillaume Hernoux is founder at Partner-Eye, a business consulting company supporting organisations to grow sustainably and internationalise their activities with their talents, customers and suppliers.

A version of this article appeared for the first time in Business Plus Ireland as a guest post blog on the 27th July 2020 : https://bizplus.ie/guest-blog-guillaume-hernoux-partner-eye/

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