Often we hear in lecture rooms on business companies should stick to their knitting…how dangerous this might have been for those with no choice but to pivot in Covid climate? How much opportunities was created, with total focus on survival? Yet, now, for some owners the dilemma of finished Furlough, getting back on brand (whatever that might mean) and the difficulty of market changed conditions (and still changing) is a huge stress many of us are facing. 


So how about simplifying. Focus on what you can sell, (on what you actually have, right now, nothing else..), do only sales tasks and anything else can wait for when you are in a better place. Clearly without the cash to fight on any distraction is a pointless waste of energy and resource. Nice to have pfaff can now kill companies. Cash is king. Profit may be sanity and turnover vanity – factually refer to point one without cash we are under threat. Some of our brands feel this pain and yet we also recognise some companies are booming – new gym memberships on the rise, health and wellbeing front and centre of individuals spotlights and indeed we see signs of life in travel – yet where best should we invest efforts and focus. It is Christmas in retail world. There are already delivery difficulties. Should we not let all our customers know, we are in stock for now, and for as long as stock lasts we remain strong but …stock shelves are full in store and it seems things have slowed in shifting onwards? 


Cash flow calculated daily for progress – as we are, is illuminating a great deal of “actions, activities and tasks,” that frankly in some of our company brands are simply not business critical to making the most of the year end. A year end in which so many companies are looking for a cracking Christmas, having read much of the Sunday Times Business Pages we are in for a rough ride. Even if I sell it, can deliver it. Will Amazon keep up or kick non performing brands out as they are stretched for stock space due to all the new accounts flooding to the platform. 


My airline supply Crew luggage company are seeing signs of life but you read the business travel numbers and we wonder when the airline schedules will be back to pre-Covid times. Hospitality customers, those depending on the mid-week flow and income for business travellers continues to struggle in major cities and despite a staycation uplift this must now been fading into a tough winter of fuel-short discontent for those trying to deliver goods effectively and efficiently at competitive prices. 


Is good corporate governance important in your business? Yes, but now more than ever great communications dividing the necessary and the unnecessary is more important. Companies that do not focus on the moving parts of a super tight cash flow and then in March next year the need to clear VAT bills as well as the challenge of paying back Government loans – the wall of demands are growing. 


Of-course one cannot ignore the legal facets of trading wisely and legally but right now invent nothing new… (Can’t quite believe I am saying this.) What is mean is duck and dive to thrive by selling what you already have. You must ensure that your business is compliant with relevant and ever changing laws and regulations, but right now simplify, sell, do only sales focused stuff, make conversations happen, play your persistence card more than ever and watch your cash flow like a hawk. Selling on the right channels that you already have might reward you better than any new discovery and hope for a miracle new avenue? Yet nervous disasters of change from Facebooks algorithum is causing sleepless nights for all brands owners knowing their ad spend is less directed that ever before 


We have been in a cash flow bind due to my pushing the needle on advertising investments in Google ads as well as trying to find our way through the challenges of the Facebook changes brought about by IOS14 …not that I care what they call it, dressing up the disaster for companies struggling to find data that is of use to selling on line is another bitter pill when actually stock has been mounting up in stores. Stressful times for leader, managers and indeed all staff with a culture where we each deepely care to look after the pennies so that the pounds take care may not be enough. All costs are rising and the knock-on effect for employment decisions as we come to the end of our first kick starter 6 months means stark decisions have to be made. Problems are not only people related, product pricing effects everything, (do I risk discounting – no I add value? Yet can the consumer spend more?) All changes to sustainable packaging demands and ingredients shortage come from supply chain strain, doubly so if we, and we do care, about the sustainability of our choices and materials. Others may of course keep pushing the pointless greenwash of promising something is recyclable…that frankly is not enough. 


No more than ever I think a positive Corporate Social Responsibility agenda matters but how do we afford all that we would like to do to support team & culture whilst the sales numbers are not as good perhaps as expected or hoped for? Swan life (a gentle glide whilst paddling like hell is required), remain calm but share the problems and get others to step up. Indeed as times like this I trust my staff more than ever to make the right choices, but it is down to leaders to deliver the right messaging for the staff whom simply would rather be informed and treated like grown-ups.  This is how tough it is and we all play our parts in the sales process and through the sales process we pay the salaries and bad news, salary payment gets tighter each month it seems. 


We might be luckier than many. We have our Christmas stock in for Scentered, for Yogi Bare and also for KitBrix fortunately seeing great signs of eventing and outdoor activity we feel alive once more. Nevertheless now the juggle of what will sell faster, what’s the right colour to have for when…and where – literally in which country? Sods law there may be another shut down and we may have another surge in demand for gorgeous Sleep Well Candles from Scentered or De-Stress and yet the candle glass we buy has gone up in price freight alone by 10X previous purchase. I don’t believe the consumer wants to buy this, perhaps if I sell them better value they might buy more as we offer more than just a candle. We all have to deliver more than to serve our community, our fan base and to win new consumers whom simply expect more in the digital age. 


As leaders discuss their new ways of working, trying to find the fine balance we may no longer need any such things as a disaster recovery plan for offices that are never attended. I keep giggling at the thought of going into the removals business, everyone seems to be moving somewhere for work or life and yet of course first we have no drivers now we have no fuel…really? Enterprise is not for the faint hearted. 


Things I might put on hold in-light of my sales priorities, all legal, classically consultancy takes a hit, should marketing? I will resist at all costs as perhaps times like these are when we need marketing most, and then this morning my Marketing Director is down with Covid. What can I do to drive my network, use digital (apparently low cost?) How do I milk the contacts and relations we have built – answer, offer great value. More value than ever before, but only if you buy it whilst stocks last.


Author Lara

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