These are trying times for small businesses. I am aware that many of our clients are straining to look forward, peering into an uncertain future in order to plot a course for their business in the present. Some of our clients, who sell on the High Street, are rewriting cashflow forecasts daily.

This worries us. It worries me. I don’t like to think of our clients struggling; indeed, we want to see our them thriving! We love nothing more than helping clients to see strategy realised and success won. We are concerned for them, and for ourselves too. At this time, we really don’t know what this coronavirus will ultimately do to the world, to our nation, to our city, and to our businesses. There is much uncertainty, and quite a lot of fear.

And yet I have a business to run. We have our responsibilities to discharge. We wake up, work how we can, with what we have, with an eye to the future but fixed to respond to the needs of the present.

A Better Narrative

I was speaking yesterday with Anna and Dave, clients of ours. Their industry, like many, is facing unprecedented times. They’re aware of it, and yet – like many others – they’re not avoiding the challenge but choosing to engage and respond positively. Their whole comms strategy for the next little while might be summed up as ‘Optimism and Joy’.

This got me thinking about our own comms strategy at Bathcomms. It’s easy when you focus on others to neglect yourself. It’s the plumber that has the leaky tap, after all. Google, a few days ago, released their internal thoughts on how to communicate well at this time. I found it very helpful. And after chatting with Anna and Dave I thought that I needed to do the same. So I grabbed my yellow legal pad (where 90% of great ideas come from) and scribbled three words.

Generosity. Joy. Hope.

Generosity

‘It’s better to give than to receive.’ Wise, ancient words that are one of Bathcomms’ core values. It is when pressure is applied that we see what we’re really made of. I believe this applies as much to entire nations as well as businesses as it does to each one of us.

The business owner facing challenging times will look to ensure their business is fit to get through the challenge and emerge on the other side. The government clearly believes in this, as they have unveiled unprecedented financial provision to help businesses weather this storm. Keeping businesses running keeps people employed and keeps the economy moving, or so the theory goes.

Many businesses will be slashing budgets, implementing hiring freezes, considering redundancy plans, and generally battening down the hatches to protect the core services. There’s much wisdom in that.

There’s a risk that we lose who we are to preserve who we think we are.

And yet, in all this self-protection there’s a risk that we lose who we are to preserve who we think we are. How can Bathcomms have a core value of generosity and not practice it at this time? Who will we be on the other side if we sacrifice our values in the name of expediency and self-preservation? Are our values merely virtue-signalling, or do we actually believe them and live by them?

Cashflow is vital. Strategy is crucial. These things are what a business needs, but they’re not what a business is. Let’s fight to serve our business and our clients, our friends, and those around us well at this time. It might require a lot more work and sacrifice, but that is exactly what’s being asked of our entire country right now.

Joy

There’s something amazing about Spring. The birds chirping, the blossom blooming, creatures emerging from long slumber. It’s as if nature itself is celebrating life. It’s quite the uplifting spectacle.

A few days ago as I collected some essential things from the office to take home I noticed the daffodils bordering the dual carriageway leaving Bath. Like the flags on the Mall it’s as if they were saluting the drivers. I was happy to see them, but sad that the roads were empty and many would miss this annual sight.

Happiness is the reaction to the unexpected delight, but I believe there’s a source of goodness which runs deeper. Happiness, in many ways, has to do with luck. It’s in the word after all. ‘Hap’, as in ‘chance’ or ‘fortune’.

For some, there aren’t always things in their lives to feel happy about. And yet they can smile, persevere, and move forward. These people who don’t need require random events to produce positive responses have a deep current of joy flowing within them. It’s an inexhaustible connection to a deeper good, which is not beholden to the tos and fros of life.

We want to be a business that knows joy, and identifies by it. That through the good and the bad, the feelings we collectively and individually experience are not dictated by what we see and respond to but by a deeper reality that remains unswayed by the present mood.

Hope

This too shall end. Life is wonderful and business is a grand vehicle that can serve individuals, communities, and nations very, very well. Our present challenge will not last for ever. Our pain and our tears will not be the final word.

For those of you who know our story you’ll know Bathcomms has seen strong challenges. It has survived the dot com burst, the 2008 recession, and the unexpected death of the former CEO, my father.

Now in mentioning those events I’m not resolved in my hope for the future based solely on our history. There may come a time when a storm too big for us to handle actually does take us down. But even if it does, that is not the end of things.

Many people at this time would otherwise be thinking more about the run up to Easter. For many around the world Easter is a symbol and summation of hope. Yes, we can look back at our achievements and take courage in our track record of overcoming or getting through every obstacle in our past. But for true hope for the future we must anchor our trust in something bigger than just us.

There are many people who are living in fear right now. And yet we see the shoots of hope all around us. There has been an astonishing surge of collaboration, community, and selflessness around the world. When we live for something bigger, we exercise hope, and hope is the strength we call can use to fuel our fight to push onwards and upwards.

Moving Onwards and Upwards

Over the next few weeks we’ll be fleshing out our young communications strategy. We shall be distilling these values and creating strategy that flows from it.

We’ll be writing about this here on this, blog (feel free to sign up if you’d like to join us) and looking to join in the wider conversation that we can all be a part of it.

We’d love hear your thoughts to! We’re in this together.


If we at Bathcomms can help you and your business to communicate well through our present challenge, please contact us. All consultations around COVID-19 are free.