Author: Ed Reid, Managing Director, The Alternative Board (UK)
I should, I suppose, start the blog with what will now be a customary warning. I started writing this post on Tuesday: the world may look a very different place by the time you read it.
Last week I read an article on the BBC business site. It was headed, That was the Worst Day of my Business Life. Over the weeks and months ahead several of us are going to be saying those words.
We’re in completely uncharted waters. Is our Government taking the right decisions? Should it be doing more and doing it more quickly? I don’t know. No-one knows.
My response is much the same as yours. One minute I think we’re over-reacting – ‘Is it really that serious? Do we really need to crash the economy? – the next I look at the stats or the projections and I struggle to believe the conversation I’m having with my wife.
And we’re still none the wiser. There seem to be as many opinions – and solutions – as there are experts (and then there’s Piers Morgan) and I suspect we won’t know the answers for a long time.
But we still have to run our businesses. We have to make sure that they’re still standing when this is all over. Which brings me back to the ‘worst day of my business life…’
Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell built up Equator Coffees – a wholesale coffee roaster in San Francisco’s Bay area. Their biggest customer was a bakery chain called La Boulange. “We had been partners for years,” said Helen. The two companies had “grown together.”
Then she got a call from the owner of La Boulange. They’d sold out to Starbucks. A million dollars’ worth of orders were cancelled overnight.
Helen described that as ‘the worst day of her business life.’ But they saved the business: they changed focus and opened their first retail outlet. Now they’ve grown to 155 employees with eight outlets across the Bay area. Three more new outlets are planned for this year…
…Or they were. Maybe this week Helen is facing another ‘worst day of her business life’ with the San Francisco Bay area in lockdown. She’ll never read this, but I hope Equator Coffees survives and prospers.
We’re all going to face similar challenges.
So what are we going to do at TAB UK HQ?
We’re going to carry on supporting our franchisees and TAB members up and down the UK. We will pay our bills on time and we’re going to support our local communities. And we’re going to support each other as well: the statistics are uncompromising, especially for those of us with elderly relatives.
Over the last week I’ve been proactively communicating with the UK team, and encouraging them to talk to their members. To echo Rishi Sunak on Tueday, we will do whatever it takes.
Sooner or later this will end – and the businesses that are still standing will be the ones who supported their teams, their clients and their suppliers. Businesses that seek short term profit from the current situation will neither be forgotten nor forgiven.
We’re going to come out into a different world – and we’re going to face new business challenges. Whatever the Chancellor pumps into the economy now will one day need repaying.
Those new challenges are why we’ll continue talking to potential new members and why we’ll be inviting them to virtual Board meetings. We have so much shared experience in TAB UK and we want to make it available – at a time when many business owners must be feeling more worried and isolated than they’ve ever felt.
I’ve often quoted the proverb, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far go together.’ It’s the essence of TAB and right now it is more relevant than it has ever been.
So for us, it’s business as normal. We’re here and whatever support is in our power to provide, we’ll provide it. We’re going to get through this, and we’re going to get through it together.