Skip to main content

Edition 215 – Firm & Calm

As the COVID 19 situation continues to unfold, family business owners and managers are having to adapt quickly. The Prime Minister’s announcement last night about further enforced shutdowns means you need to be prepared to make quick decisions – and, unfortunately, change them quickly.

Following on from last week’s editions of Growth, here’s my ongoing tactical advice:

1.   Banks

  1. If you’ve not already done it, talk with your banks now about securing additional lines of funding.
  2. The Reserve Bank is providing funding support to all the banks for small and family businesses – so take advantage of it.
  3. Seek any loan payment deferrals in accordance with the announcements from the Australian Banking Association last week.
  4. Right now, cash in the bank and access to cash funding are critical.

 2. Your Team

  1. Continue to communicate with your team about the evolving situation.
  2. If you need to make decisions about staff retention, ensure you follow the relevant Fairwork guidelines.
  3. Remember, your team are as concerned about their situation just as you are about yours. If nothing less, you owe them the courtesy of keeping them informed.
  4. Consider electronic means – emails or videos – to communicate your message, particularly if you have field staff.

 3.  Your Clients

  1. Continue to remain in touch with them.
  2. Many businesses still have work to do. For you and them, it is business as usual.
  3. Check with them to see how they are travelling and what their current financial position is. Doing work is one thing – getting paid is another.


  1. If you lease premises, you should be speaking with your landlords or real estate agents about rent reductions.
  2. I’m hearing that, in most circumstances, landlords are coming to the party. They want a long term tenant, so are prepared to share any short term pain with you to ride this through.

5.   Suppliers

  1. Remain in contact with your suppliers to determine if there will be delays.
  2. You need to factor any supply delays into what work you can do.
  3. You need to reaffirm with them their payment terms.

 6. Operations

  1. Consider whether you need to have “A” and “B” teams or AM and PM teams to ensure that, should there be an outbreak of COVID 19, that you can still continue to function.
  2. Ensure any systems and processes that you are instituting at the moment are documented and communicated. When we’re on the other side, having done this now will hold you in good stead.

 In terms of demonstrating leadership in your family business right now, here’s my strong advice:

  1. Assemble a close group of your management team – 2 or 3 at most – it’s your own National Cabinet.
  2. Start each day with a Plan of Attack.
  3. Finish each day with a Review of the Plan.
  4. Remain calm.
  5. Make firm decisions and issue clear directives.
  6. Talk with your families about your and their concerns.
  7. Check in with your support network and your friends.
  8. As much as possible, your team should do the work. Right now, more than ever, you need to be on the bridge, not down in the boiler room.
  9. Switch off the news. Rolling commentary is not helpful. Dialling in a couple of times per day to check on official announcements is the most important.
  10. Eat properly. Get rest whenever you need it. Take time for a stroll.
  11. Listen to music or watch something that you like. It’ll take your mind away from what is happening – and your brains need to rest even when you’re awake.


  1. We will all get through this. We may be a little battered and bruised, but we will get there.
  2. Out of adversity comes opportunity. It’s long been a mantra of mine. Now, more than ever, this will prove correct.
  3. None of us are alone. Everyone is experiencing the same issues and concerns – this thing is global.
  4. Your family and their health is paramount right now. Be the pillar of strength and calm they need – and tell them you need it from them as well. 

There is so much to be grateful for.
Remember the little things right now as they help to create perspective in challenging times.