Reeling from coronavirus? Here’s our survival guide

business survival
**Simon Paine’s events company has been decimated by the coronavirus, but the PopUp Business School CEO is fighting back. He and his co-founder, Alan Donegan, will be offering regular support and advice for Real Business readers, with PopUp’s Business Survival Guide…

If the madness around coronavirus is making you feel like you have no idea what to do, I can empathise. My events business has been decimated over the past fortnight. I should be in New York running an event at Google but, instead, I’m on lockdown in Lutterworth.

I’m assuming my events business can’t function until January 2021, at least. The chances of running a two-week free event for business owners any time soon is virtually zero. We were very successful, helping to set up 680 businesses in 2018 alone – but now that’s all gone.

So where next for us all?

1. Tear up the rule book

Tear up the rule book and start again. If you have a business plan then burn it – it was probably useless, anyway. It’s time to think of ways to adapt, to step out of your comfort zone and into the new world.

One thing’s for sure, the world will never be the same again, even when the craziness is over. Ideas are currency at the moment and everybody is crying out for them. Keep an open mind because, even if you hate the idea, buried in there could be a nugget which could trigger a thought that could change everything. Write ideas down, share them and test them.

2. Check out the chancellor’s rescue package

Government support measures must be top of everyone’s list this week. The Chancellor’s rescue package includes grant funding, extra time to pay VAT and income tax and a coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. If you’ve got employees, you might be able to get 80% of their wages paid and they get to keep their jobs.

3. Avoid debt

One of the reasons PopUp is still able to keep going is because we always avoid debt. I recommend the same to you all. There are plenty of loan companies out there are looking to profit from our business misery. It will take years to pay them back – please only use debt as a last resort. Meanwhile, dial back on your spending, both in the business and in your personal life.

4. Get online – now

The internet offers the best chance of your business keeping going, even if it’s just about communicating with your audience. Last week, we ran two Facebook live sessions for business owners and were amazed by some of the ideas coming out. Pub quizzes on Zoom, gigs on Facebook Live, tonnes of ‘how to’ guides being uploaded onto YouTube.

Don’t trust Facebook? Not that excited about making videos? Tough. In fact, it was tough luck before the virus hit, you have to deal with business reality now, and the reality is virtual.

5. Keep communicating and help people

At PopUp, we’ve been communicating ten times more than we usually do, and it probably still isn’t enough. Communicate as soon as possible with everyone you’re connected to – customers, suppliers, employees, family, friends and neighbours. Find out how they’re getting on, what their problems are and offer to help solve them. People need support and encouragement.

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