It’s been a while since I did a blog, for obvious reasons. I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to be throwing advice about in the midst of a global pandemic because I’m not sure even the most experienced businessperson would know what to advise right now. Instead, I have kept myself to myself, and I thought I would just highlight some of the things I have done in this time, how we have managed to survive so far as a business, and what my future plans are.
First of all, l I like to think I am a calm, rational person. I take each day as it comes and adapt quite well. I always find the positive in situations and, like most working parents, I took this time to take a step back from the stress of running a company and enjoyed loads of time with my kids. However, I wasn’t built to be a stay at home parent so there have been times that I was climbing the walls.
When all this first happened, we closed the office doors at Design & Build and furloughed everyone – thank god for that scheme and the governments support, I honestly don’t know what I would have done otherwise. I am incredibly nervous about the consequences of all this free cash, however, and I’m dreading the day we all have to start paying it back (but that’s for another day).
I decided to embrace my time at home; I ordered a skip and got the kids involved in doing my back garden. We painted every piece of wood in sight, cleaned everything, planted new plants, dug up the borders and had loads of fun. The garden looks decent considering I was helped by a one and a ten-year-old.
I think at this point I was a little in denial and trying to keep my head in a positive place, which was what I needed at that time. Once that project was complete, I was ready to address what I was going to do going forward.
My business partners and I spent hours creating new ways to gain revenue, alternative ways to sell our services, and to make new connections. Unfortunately, this didn’t amount to much; people are still incredibly worried about parting with their company’s’ money. So, we took the decision to stop work and see if we could pause everything and start again on the other side. We put every bill we could on hold and kept up communications with staff to ensure they too were all in a good space. I think this is imperative as you want your team to be feeling good when you start again.
After a week or two of sorting out the admin side of things I found a new routine, which I stuck to religiously with the kids so they could have fun and learn, but more importantly were tired enough to sleep early so I could drink wine…
In the last few weeks, we have seen more movement in the construction industry and the demand for our services is back. We are sorting out the office in line with government’s Covid-19 guidelines and allowing the initial four or five of us who are needed back in the office to work in a safe environment.
Our plan is to test the market with a few members of staff and, if successful, reintroduce people slowly to ease the pressure on the company and ensure we can work through this. It feels a little like we are starting over again, but in a better position than my living room with just a laptop and an old fax machine.
I feel the construction industry will always be a strong, crucial part of the economy and for that I’m thankful. I am positive about what the future holds and I am going to do all that I can and more to make my companies successful once again. It’s been hard, there have been days I didn’t want to get out of bed, I had a few panic cries in the shower but swiftly reminded myself of how fortunate I am. I have been scared for my family’s health and livelihoods and have had times when I am mad about the whole shitstorm we’re in, but I’ve also enjoyed the time to breath, plan and be a “proper mum”.
I am unsure of the best advice to give but a couple of things I practise are below, and it’s thanks to these things I am sure I will return better than ever.
- Never wallow in self-pity – embrace your anxieties but try to move on, swiftly.
- Change your negative thought processes – see what good can come from this. If you are earning less money for instance, know that you are surviving with less, and learn to spend less and save more in the future.
- Take the time to ask others how they are feeling, what they are doing, what their plans are. It’s healthy to learn from others and listen to other peoples’ problems; it lets you know you’re not alone with your thoughts.
- Exercise however you want to – walk, run, lift weights, anything – just do something.
- Change the scenery, get out of the house, even if it’s a little walk to the shop or round the block, fresh air is an amazing remedy.
- Plan – when you’re feeling like the world has gone to shit and you’re a little stuck or out of control, plan what you will do when things return. It may not pan out as you thought but having something positive to aim for really helps.
- Have a laugh – try not to take every waking moment too seriously. Don’t feel bad for enjoying yourself when you have problems, it’s fine to be happy even though you’re worried.
- Give yourself a project – I did the garden and got rid of all the stuff we were hoarding, I set myself fitness goals, all of which are good to keep your mind busy.
- Remind yourself that this will be over soon – you will be back to work at some point and you will be wishing you could go for a walk with the kids to see the ducks again, so enjoy what you have when you have it.
- Drink wine – I love a glass (or three) so I let myself have a little treat, have a couple of drinks, a laugh with my partner. Waking up a bit groggy but knowing I can still enjoy some small things in life is a great feeling.
All the best to everyone, I really hope you can keep your heads and your companies, and hopefully will see you soon!