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Firstly, I want to talk about ideas in managing your business in a crisis and then a few thoughts on communications.
Managing in a crisis
Every business will be different in the way the virus is affecting or has affected them. I’m aware of clients who have shut their businesses as they rely on people being able to gather together in large groups, which as we know is not currently allowed by our Governments. Whilst other businesses continue to operate, albeit remotely or under other operational constraints. Managing during a crisis is all about leadership. Leadership with the shared purpose and values of your organisation.
I have a three-step guide to how you may want to approach managing in a crisis.
Firstly: prioritise what is important to your business, who are you serving, what are your needs. This might mean you are challenged to be courageous in your thinking as you strip away the non-essential issues to focus on the really important matters. By way of example, here at Dry Kirkness our priority is maintaining our standard of professional advice to you our clients, and secondly to work hard at securing sufficient work to try and keep our team engaged.
Secondly: get the people that you trust in the room to help you make the right decisions. Using quality information, listen to the advice of others, whether a Board, a coach, senior team members in your business and even your accountant here at Dry Kirkness. You are not alone in having to make the hard decisions. Set a plan to achieve the priorities you have set for your business. Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out, so be prepared to revisit them by using the best information you can obtain.
In a crisis you can’t have just the one person making all these decisions, be prepared to delegate and allocate tasks to others. As an example within our practice we tasked some of our key people with specific roles handling strategic work flow planning, the information trail on the various Government stimulus packages, the health and well-being of our team and someone to critique what we are all doing so we are kept on track. You have others in your business that you can get involved with specific tasks.
Thirdly: you need to focus on the resourcing of the business and what is required to keep all of your people healthy and safe. What resources are required to deliver your crisis plan. Again, in our business, this was to ensure our team had the required assets to work remotely in safety. We allowed staff to take home office chairs and monitors so they could mimic the multi-screen environment they are used to working with in our office. On a bigger picture what financial resources do you need to get through this time of uncertainty. 
Based on its effect on the world the most significant crisis in the last century would have to be World War 2. Our present experience potentially will imitate the past. Whole parts of our economy may be like the businesses in WW2 which did not survive. However just like businesses in that time many of our current day businesses will reinvent themselves. For example, we already have distillers making hand sanitiser, Dyson cleaners making ventilators etc. Are you planning for what your business will look like when we come out of our current challenges. We suggest you grasp the opportunity that will present, rather than focus on the adversities of today.
The second matter to talk about today is the aspect of communication.  As accountants we don’t profess to be natural communicators and our profession is often characterised as being lacking in this ability. However, we know that complex matters need to be distilled into simple messages and that is what we deal with each and every day with you our clients as we seek to apply complex tax law and accounting standards to your situations. So, based on our experience here are a few thoughts on key pointers for any business to use in communicating at this time.  

  1. Who is your audience? Who are you talking to? The coronavirus is raising many complex issues and the listeners are subjected to information overload. So you need to think about how to put your messaging in the best way to reach the audience.
  2. Be clear. At times of stress the listener often won’t pick up the message until you have repeated it many times. So in your messaging be prepared to repeat the message to ensure it gets heard. For example Jacinta Ardern in NZ has a simple message: “Kiwis stay home”. It has cut through to her community in their fight against the virus. Clear, consistent and simple messaging is needed.
  3. Be honest and authentic. Reflect your values and culture of the business.
  4. As a leader be prepared to show your vulnerability. Focus on the knowns in your situation and let your audience know that you are just as unsure of the future as they will be.  

The themes in communicating are simple: be clear, speak to your audience and be human. Continuing the theme of WW2 the messaging of Winston Churchill was a simple mantra: KBO “Keep Buggering On”.
If you want to chat about your crisis plan, please give any of our partners a phone call or email us.
Last week the Job Keeper package was passed into law by our Government. This package is a massive spend by Government in an effort to protect our business community and your staff. We congratulate them on such a inspired stimulus to protect as many as possible.  The critical factor to be entitled to access the package is the reduction in revenue between years. Over the last weekend this has been clarified a little by the issue of further guidance by Treasury to accompany the package. The key test for business is a 30% (15% for selected not for profits) decline in turnover based on your BAS reporting period when compared to the prior year. And there are some key measures to prevent business constructing an outcome to obtain the package when they would not otherwise meet the criteria. We are able to advise you on the impact of the rules and again you can access this by contacting your engagement partner or manager here at Dry Kirkness.