It is often said that being an entrepreneur is one of the loneliest endeavours. In this current situation, that has never been truer. However, we can’t let that be the case if we are going to come out of this stronger.
With the country effectively in a lockdown as we collectively try to slow down the spread of coronavirus, the vast majority of us are staying at home. As a result, the crisis is not only isolating people from their friends, families and colleagues, it’s also leaving businesses detached from each other.
Learning from past recessions
Everyone is being impacted by the crisis, and business owners are no different. From sole traders who will be rightly worried about their income, to those who employ people who are being kept awake at night concerned about their businesses and their workforce.
I have to give the Chancellor Rishi Sunak praise for the measures he has introduced to try and keep businesses afloat and people employed, such as the range of loans, tax holidays and the furloughing of staff on 80% wages. In a time of national emergency, it is only right that the state steps in to try and maintain the UK’s vital private sector.
During the most recent recession, it has been the country’s near six million small and medium-sized businesses that put their noses to the proverbial grindstone to get the economy through troubled times. This situation is, of course, completely different to anything any of us have had to deal with in the past and has required the need for unprecedented measures to help businesses.
Negotiating the way through how these measures and assistance packages can help our businesses and understanding which ones we can access in itself brings challenges. Phone lines and websites are jammed packed with business people trying to find out information.
Why technology helps
So, this is where we have to reverse the mind-set that we entrepreneurs are lone wolves only focused on ploughing our own furrows. Entrepreneurs are the original business isolators when it comes to being able to share ideas and ask for advice. Even in these extremely tough times, entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavour.
If there is one small mercy from the timing of this horrendous situation is that we are in an era where digital communication has come into its own. From Skype calls and FaceTime to Microsoft Teams and Zoom, to name but a few, we can stay connected with a face and not just a voice.
News outlets like Real Business are essential for providing the updates and information relevant to SMEs and social media, in particular LinkedIn, will, more than ever, become the meeting place for like-minded businesspeople.
Keeping up communication and fellowship
Podcasts are also proving to be a great way gather information and ideas – my grandson Ashley has his own, Unblocking Success, where he talks to inspirational people, including entrepreneurs, about how they overcome challenges.
There are plenty of groups on LinkedIn where people can exchange ideas and views and I would also encourage anyone that is part of a membership body like Chambers of Commerce, the Institute of Directors or Entrepreneurs’ Forum to see how they are keeping their members in contact.
Pre-coronavirus I would’ve said this type of thing falls under the banner of mentorship, but during this crisis, I would call it fellowship. We have to look out for each other at this most testing of times and become a stronger community. Stay safe everyone.