In the last couple of weeks of various types of lockdown here in the UK I’ve constantly been asked one question…and I’m going to share an honest answer with you.
It’s also fair to say, that a few have called me negative in the last few weeks, but personally I think they’ve got this confused with being genuinely realistic about the upcoming year and whilst I’ve always been encouraging, and try to be motivational, I also don’t wish to give people false hope or blow smoke up their arse because it does more damage than good. “Ra-Ra”/ “Aren’t I popular?” coaching has never got us out of economic crisis before and it won’t help small businesses now.
So the question I’ve been asked is,
“What is your message to all these small business owners, hospitality owners and the people who are really going to be affected by all these lock downs?”
The answer is…that it changes for each person.
It genuinely does, because there are many hospitality business owners, and small business owners that I would say close….close the doors…close right now, save your money…call your landlord and focus on solving your debt, because you’re not going to do the sales and revenue right now that you really need. Even if and when some businesses, especially hospitality, are allowed to be open and just the numbers allowed through the doors will sit anywhere between 25% and 40% and quite simply you’re not going to make enough money right now.
So what you need to do is focus on the future…go negotiate with your landlord…talk to utility companies…do what you need to do to manage your debt. That’s your priority right now.
So if you have to close your business, restaurant, bar or pub for three months until the vaccine really hits and then you can open properly…well, that’s what some businesses and restaurants will need to do…because even if they do open next week or next month their debts are going to take them down. So they’ve got to focus on not running the business…they’ve got to focus on solving the debt.
Consider Your Cash
Now there are others that aren’t in that kind of debt load but they’re bleeding money and they’re running out of cash. They too might want to consider closing and waiting till after the pandemic ends when a vaccine hits because when a vaccine hits and business comes back there are businesses that could do a grand opening. But if you do and to get new customers back, you need money, so I’m concerned about the small businesses, bars and restaurants that are going to spend all their money now and then when the pandemic is over they won’t have the resources to reopen correctly. And if there’s anything we’ve learned in the past few weeks is that we can’t necessarily count on a government to help small businesses properly.
So I think the problem changes for each person, but in both cases…PLEASE hold on to your resources because you’re going to need them for a while yet, and for a government to say to a business, “You must close…”, and not provide any proper compensation to facilitate the closure of that business is out- freaking-outrageous.
And that’s what bothers me…it isn’t a closure per-se…because you could argue the science of closing. You could argue the science against closing and that’s an argument that you can have either way.
I’m not going there on this post, but what I am saying is, and that it’s my opinion, you can’t close without some type of provision to protect people’s livelihoods.
60% of the UK financial turnover is made up by small business. Of those, nearly 70% of small businesses, pubs, bars and restaurants are single owned…by one family…one man or one woman. They don’t own two, three, four, or five lots of premises or franchises. They own one. This is their livelihood. It’s gone and to be fair it’s been gone for months.
The statistics are scary when it comes to ‘zombie’ businesses and it just worries me that the “ra-ra”, “we’re all in this together” lot are drowning out the realities of the current situation and are too busy trying to sell small business owners, something like the emperors new clothes and use up the last of their resources for no quick return on investment. Remember these were the same people that went missing at the start of the pandemic, because not only fid they have a ‘Plan B’ for other people’s problems, they didn’t have one for themselves. They waited until lockdowns were being eased, had seen the carnage that was infant of them and jumped straight back on the bandwagon of selling advertising space, sales courses, online coaching programmes and guaranteed six figure business models WITHOUT ever taking the real, genuine position of a business owners into consideration. Asides from money and being closed, every single business is different as are the people running them and each one needs different tools to move forward.
And there are no personal, no business or actual politics involved here. This is small business UK and certain industries are sinking. This is the last chance for many of us and what worries me is that our MP’s and business leaders went home for the Christmas holidays with no strategy, plans or ideas on how we get out of this. It’s opened up so much divisiveness that we see and do everyday to each other…this political, “If you don’t agree with me, you’re an ass…if you don’t agree with me you’re wrong. If you don’t agree with me, you’re a fool…”, that sort of self absorbed mentality.
But the one thing I know is that the divisiveness has to end. This has to end and we must be able to create some type of conversation between small business communities and the wider community on how the country starts moving forward. And I tell you when I see businesses, clients, friends going out of business, stimulus packages not getting implemented properly and for at least 3 million business owners who have had absolutely nothing…I look at things and I’d rather be rejoicing about the vaccine. The end of this in the palms of our hands….
For most of the last year we’ve been on the back foot and now we’ve taken back the initiative and put our future back in the palms of our own hands.
The Pandemic Gave Us A Success Story or Two
But despite the bumbling of our Prime Minister and an apparent lack of leadership, I think it’s going to be a huge success but here’s my point. We actually have business success and this is an odd success, but I can see the seed of something quite brilliant if it’s harnessed properly. I’m not going to say this was planned, but some of the things that have happened over the last year have happened at warp-speed and in the main they worked.
They’ve realigned administrative processes.Things were achieved in days and weeks as opposed to months, quarters and years. Look at the fiscal support, that whilst not perfect, has made a difference when it needed to be in the main. Medical companies delivered a vaccine that…I was watching an article this morning…they had all the quotes from the news services and experts about a year ago when the Government said, “We will have a vaccine by the end of the year…”, and they all said “It’s outrageous. Oh it will never happen, you know that would crazy thing to say…”, and they said this was impossible.
It cannot be done. Remember that point.
They said it was impossible…It wasn’t impossible.
The fact of the matter is, it happened by the end of the year and it happened BIG by the end of the year. That in itself is an incredible success and achievement for the medical industry. Vaccines will never be made the same way again. In theory we will never wait three or four years for a vaccine ever again. Again, somehow, we’ve redesigned a way to do this for the future.
As a by-product, what our current Government did was realign public and private partnerships. It really has begun to make them effective. So by realigning the various processes for creating vaccines and fiscal help this ‘global bastard’ has oddly has left us in a far better more, productive place than we were a year ago. Now we’re going to see a public-private partnership over the next couple months at a level that we’ve never seen in this government or in our lifetimes and that’s pretty darn exciting, if you’ve still got some positivity left inside you.
So, I think that as we approach 2021, we’re all going to have something to be grateful for…that this is in our future…and its finally in our hands again.
New Year’s is supposed to be the time of year when there’s a fresh beginning, right?
We do our New Year’s resolutions and it’s a fresh beginning… But let’s be honest with ourselves, January is not going to be a great month for us. That’s not negativity, that’s realism as we look at the current situation. We know that December certainly was not going to be a great month for us.
Be A Hero
But the one thing we do have is each other in the business community. We need to understand during these next few weeks that if we’ve ever meant anything to each other that time is now. If ever we needed each other, it’s at times of weakness. And this is the time of weakness.
Yes, independent restaurants, pubs and bar owners need you right now. Their employees and their families need you right now.
Your independent small business owners need you right now. Their employees and their families need you right now.
Politicians dare I say it, need us right now. If ever we’ve needed each other it’s now.
If ever divisiveness and politics in opposing views should not get in a way of us supporting each other. It’s NOT now.
If ever we had to believe in each other as human beings let alone as a business community, it’s now.
This is a powerful moment for all of us. We must step up for each other.
That’s what 2021 will be about. It’s about stepping up for each other.
I’m going to continue do that in the next twelve months. I’m even more determined to help as many business owners as I can get the business that their hard work deserves, so that I can step up for somebody else. But you know, there are people that need more emotional support right now?
A phone call, a hug with mates.And those of us…in fact sod this…all of us have a chance to be a hero to someone the next couple weeks. All of us have an opportunity to be a hero to a complete stranger.
These are our defining moments right now. As a society and a business community, these next few weeks and how we deal with this as we start to come out of this, will not only define us as a society and a community, but also as human beings.
What’s your choice? What are you going to do?
Are you going to reach out and be supportive of those around you at this time of need? Are you going to be supportive or divisive?
Which are you going to do?
So that’s the question that I pose to all of you.
This wasn’t planned.
This is just me speaking to you from my heart.
I get a lot of stick from people saying I’ve got an ego the size of a planet, when the actual truth is, and it’s one of the only times you’ll see me defend myself, is that I rarely talk about me and I’m old enough and ugly enough to understand that not one person is interested in me…but I speak up for and try to help those who need that hand out of the well. This is our defining moment to step up.
Let’s come through for each other now. I’m going to say it…”fuck the politics and fuck the ego’s” for a few weeks. Let’s just come through for each other.
I wish you a 2021 filled with support and love of those around you. I wish you a 2021 with hope that this will end soon. I wish you a 2021 that does have a fresh beginning in the new year and that shows that 2021 could be maybe one of your best years ever.
And I wish you the power and strength to really be supportive of those around you even when you disagree with their views…to support them as a person, a competitor, a business owner…to support them in whatever way you can, because right now we all need to have a great 2021.
Have a great New Year, be brilliant, and I’ll talk to you all very soon.