It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to fast track me to have a stronger business. Today we are growing for a better tomorrow and just as importantly, we’re more ‘bullet proof’ for any future crisis.
I’ve been in the hospitality industry my whole life, however, never in all of this time have I had to see my business through a global pandemic. When COVID-19 hit, I initially couldn’t see any clear way through, and I was resigning myself to it being the end.
Using a very clear process and putting one foot in front of the other, those more irrational thoughts and emotions were put to one side. I have driven through the crisis on a fairly limited income, setting myself up to tackle it head on, whilst being ready to come out the other side confident and stronger, and that goes for my business as well. It’s a new era backed by a new product strategy and business model that feel so much more flexible and most importantly, less dependent on a flourishing economy.
When I could free my mind from fear, I could see and take the right first step. My confidence in there being a future just grew.
I was very happy with where we were as a brand, the business was working. We offered a unique experience with a combined offering as a hotel, restaurant and conference centre; it was always busy and fully booked out. When COVID-19 arrived, due to social distancing, it suddenly went to nothing and worst still, I felt that there was nothing I could influence or change. As an entrepreneur, I felt helpless, which was a totally new feeling for me.
COVID-19 took a lot from me, as it did everyone. However, I feel that if I had had the processes that I have put in place now, I might not have been quite so exposed. Looking back, it was the belief that my business was doing well and the fact that I was so happy that caused a vulnerability when the unexpected did happen. Perhaps happiness had made me content and gave me a false representation of some of the areas of the business; with sales
being amazing I could afford to ignore a few of the ‘not so perfect’ processes or the communication plans that were just ‘alright.’ However, if I’m being honest, bookings came from historical reputation.
This crisis ‘took the lid off’ my business and I was forced to answer different questions starting with the needs of my customer. Questions I should have always been answering.
I had no time to lose. I had 4 months of cash, pushing me to think smarter and quicker when it came to what we needed to do. In the past I’d have taken time to consider my options, pondering over possible solutions. I didn’t have time for this. I had to make fast decisions to ensure the survival of the business, with no room to wander off that path.
A clear process ensured I assumed nothing, like using a guide rope in a pitch-black cave, you can’t see the footing or where the next step is taking you, you just trust the rope was placed by those that have already travelled the path successfully.
What did I do?
Identified what needed doing first – based on facts
After completing a small business audit and using the correct guidance, we could put a plan in order of what needed doing first. That’s what I needed, to do the thing that would have the greatest effect first. COVID-19 had taken away control, however I was only going to allow that to happen for just a quick moment.
Outlined a clear, step by step, process
Using a very clear process took my emotion into a more structured way of thinking. As soon as the first step was taken, I knew it was the right one and I felt my ability to influence had come back. I completed one task and then started the next one, only when the previous one was completed. When you are under pressure, trust me, having it this black and white was priceless.
Found the small wins
Moving on this very clearly defined journey, gave me the small wins that brought back my confidence and, thankfully, my business, or at least the chance of keeping one. Life quickly became better for everybody as I had been running around like a rabbit in the headlights for a good week!
As the process continued, it helped me see how COVID-19 could be used as the motivation to do what I should have always done.
As I’ve said, the first step was focusing on the needs and preferences of the customer now. I became more open and flexible for the revised customer profile, allowing me to grow my business offering so it was more relevant, opening up more communication and distribution channels. This has resulted in new income options without changing the brand that I’ve spent years building.
Menu boxes with ingredients supplied from the local area (or maximum within a 100km radius of the local area), all delivered to your doorstep.
Short escape packages
Short escape packages so that we’re ready for when our customers can start to explore the country again. I knew this would come before my customers were confident in longer stays, weddings and other celebrations.
Live cooking classes
Live cooking sessions from the kitchen with our in-house chefs, along with recommendations on wine pairings, all streamed through Social Media, reaching our existing audience and a much wider one too.
By extending my network into the community I felt I was standing stronger, a bit of a united force. The changes I made were simple, but the end result has been significant in opening up the right options for my customer because I knew more than ever who they were. This method has created a stable business that feels fitter than ever and that goes for me too! It has happened quickly – mostly because we had to move at pace to survive it – and this speed has kept me agile and energetic. It’s something that I want to make part of my business approach moving forward, ensuring we’re adapting my product and communication for my customer, growing and never assuming anything.
I know I will never be caught off guard again and this is just the beginning; I now have a clear compass to get to where I really want to be so I can move onto the next thing I want to make better – now I’ve sorted this one!
Intuition is one of our most powerful traits, but it can sometimes, unhelpfully, take over – especially during a crisis with the added fear and worry. By putting facts to your intuition and methodically working through what has to happen first, the answer becomes clearer and the thought of keeping going becomes apparent.
The process we used: Fix This Next with a specific focus on the Avatar and their needs.
Timescale for initial change: 5 weeks
Future path: A secure foundation to create a strong growth era through establishing a greater understanding of the ideal Avatar, new ways for their needs to be served and a clear definition of the business offering.
The FTN questionnaire is great for entrepreneurs as it’s a starting point to self-coaching and is a way to audit your company. Also, have a read of Mike’s book, or get in touch with us for initial guidance, completely free of charge with no obligation for full support, it’s how much we want female entrepreneurs to find the perfect first next step for them. We don’t need a crisis to find that.