Looking at the past 31 years of my life, I realise just how much has actually happened within my lifetime already. The various leaders of our country, setting out promises for a fairer Britain, the death of various royal family members such as Princess Diana and The Queen Mother. The tragedies of 911, war in Iraq and the recession. The countless number of celebrity deaths from global superstars such as Michael Jackson and George Michael to younger stars such as Caroline Flack and Amy Winehouse. Who can ever forget the uncertainty of Brexit, causing panic to the country and causing more uncertainty than ever to our economy and lives.
We are now facing much tougher times with the Coronavirus which continues to spread at a rapid rate and causing many fatalities to the elderly and those with previous health conditions. This current situation will affect us all one way or another and for businesses can have crippling side effects that many may not recover from. Day by the day the situation worsens with more cases being uncovered and countries going into total lockdown to try to stop the spread of this awful disease.
In the entertainment industry, numerous events have now been forced to cancel and this week I have faced many bookings emailing to postpone or cancel completely. I know some companies are having to lay people off as business grounds to a holt, causing more misery to potentially thousands and thousands of people.
My business model was never based around one sector. I know many entertainers will solely rely on corporate work while other will solely rely on weddings and other on children’s parties. It was always important for me to branch out with my business as much as possible to perform at a variety of events and venues both in the UK and internationally which would therefore cover me if one area of work seemed to dry up. I really didn’t expect every area to start cancelling and so even for me, it’s going to hit me harder than I could ever have imagined.
Looking at the future, it’s very uncertain. The government are reacting but not really filling me with confidence of helping small businesses and sole traders. It’s easy to dismiss the one-man bands and brush us off to one side but I feel we are even more vulnerable than most.
I made the decision today to start asking the questions as to what help and support will be offered to me starting with my bank, as my mortgage is my biggest outgoing. After speaking to them for advice for if the worse came to worse and I couldn’t pay my mortgage, they told me how they are working on new procedures to help those who will be in need and will come back to me next week for advice. If in the meantime I can’t pay my mortgage (luckily, I have money saved away so can) then I would still be charged their normal penalty rates for lack of payment.
In the past week, my phone has never stopped beeping with notifications from various media outlets. More cases confirmed, Italy in Lockdown. Don’t travel unless you have to, avoid touching people, stay indoors. Don’t panic buy, the list goes on and on and on causing utter chaos throughout the country.
It’s so very easy for the government to expect us all to drop what we are doing, close the door and sit tight until they tell us otherwise and yet still be able to pay our way and ensure business and our day to day lives continue as normal.
Hopefully when all of this dies down, contingency plans can be put in place for if this ever happens again in the future, releasing the stress and pressure that has been put on our shoulders.
So how am I coping? Here are my top tips when dealing with the Coronavirus within business:
· Ensure contracts are up to date and make terms and conditions clear for if cancellations do occur.
· Try and be flexible with cancellations. Some may cancel while others will want to reschedule later on in the year. For me there are no additional charges for changing the date and any deposits paid will simply roll over onto the rescheduled date.
· Continue to work on your business. We may get to a point where we can’t leave the house or attend events, however we still have the power of social media channels and access to a camera, opening up new opportunities to connect with our followers
· Don’t panic. It’s easy to panic and worry, it’s human nature to, yet all this is a test, such as life itself, business is never easy and always full of ups and downs. Yet we must continue to ride the storm and stay active within our business
· Plan for the future: remember that 5, 7 and 10 year plan? In times like this, I now create a 6 and 12 month business strategies to enable me to adapt to the current climate, making me more prepared for any worse to come and for when the time is right and everything settles back down.
· Talk to people. You are not alone; we are all in this together and will all be affected in some way or another. There’s a really good saying which is ‘its Ok to not be Ok’ and this is so true, don’t let things get on top of you and ask for help if needed. As I have mentioned, the current situation will have an impact on all our lives at some point and so we all need each other.
· Stay safe. Let’s all do our bit in keeping ourselves, family, friends and colleagues safe by following the current health and safety regulations. Together as one we can and will beat Coronavirus one way or another.
· 1. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol sanitiser if handwashing facilities are not available. 2. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw it in a bin. Catch it, Bin it, Kill it. Failing that, sneeze into your elbow and avoid coughing on or near others. 3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 4. Avoid travelling if you have a temperature or cough. If you feel unwell, seek medical advice. 5. If you are worried about your symptoms, please call NHS 111. Do not go directly to your GP. 6. If you begin to feel unwell, with your engager’s permission if at work, make your way safely home and contact a health professional for advice. ACAS also advises on coronavirus and the workplace: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus