There is going to be a lot to learn during this season as we navigate the pandemic of Covid-19.
I realised I have to approach this as a new student. This has never happened before so what you know may not work.
Our 2020 financial plans may have gone out of the window.
You can be the most educated CEO of the biggest company but your normal mindset is not going to cut it.
Your ability to be human, think differently and adapt is what is going to get all of us through this.
So, let’s get started. This is how it began for me. I had a meeting at Kasuku Centre last Friday (13th March) in the morning.
It ended at about 11am and as I was getting to my car, I looked at my phone and discovered that Kenya now had one confirmed case of coronavirus.
My immediate thought was — so black people can get it? I entered the shop and picked up toilet paper like everybody else.
Please note at that point, I could have bought a hand sanitiser as it was still available. But I just went with the crowd.
By lunchtime, there was no hand sanitiser anywhere. Over the last couple of days, I have been facing my fears and thoughts, listening to people and re-inventing; I have concluded that three things will be in play as we navigate this: fear, caution and adaptability.
The panic-buying (like me with the toilet paper) we have witnessed is fear. Fear can also just show up in denial.
You could be spending money as if nothing has happened. Denial can make you decide to buy a new pair of shoes to get a temporary good feeling.
That denial can make you discount what we are being told to do, for example social-distancing because you are ‘hoping’ things go back to normal.
But ready or not change has come. Fear as a business owner can make you start writing immediate redundancy letters to your employees without processing it through or being resistant to people working from home.
Fear could also make you think you are going to lose your job. That puts your job in danger. Fear is dangerous and spreads fastest.
There are many articles about job losses but not about the brave things people are doing to weather the storm. Before you rush and do anything, treat fear as a thief in the house. Kick it out.
Whilst fear is destructive, caution in these times is necessary, practical and builds on facts.
For example, caution makes you stay home as much as possible and wash your hands. It makes you buy hand sanitiser not panic buy toilet paper.
Caution will make you relook your budget and cut out what may not be necessary. Whilst fear is about hoarding, caution is about adjustment.
You can also adjust usage in your house. Caution will make you want to have a cash cover for your necessities.
Have an emergency fund as its importance is now clear. Caution does not mean inhuman. We are being called to be our brother’s keeper right now.
Caution makes you want to have a few weeks of supplies in the house — not panic buy. Please remember others need supplies too.
Instead of listening to the fear that immediately tells you to let go of employees (what we have always thought we should do), look at how to spread your cash.
The wisdom of humanity shows that more unemployed people will not help. Big profitable companies have no business talking about job cuts at this time just to maintain profitability.
If you are profitable at any level, take up social responsibility and keep people in jobs. Look at alternatives – especially to keep the right people!
Seek options like restructuring loans with the bank, negotiating with the landlord or even doing partial salary payments if it gets to that.
As an employed person, you may have the flexi-time you have what you always craved. Use it wisely and keep providing value.
Be willing to look at the opportunity that may be on the other side of what you were used to.
On Friday whilst I was in denial, Centonomy was a training business with a traditional office set up.
Today we are running online classes and the entire team is working remotely. Your job may be unavoidably at stake, but it doesn’t mean you sit playing the victim.
Maybe it is time to start that business from your home to earn extra money. Also, reach out to your boss.
Nobody knows anything, so if you have an idea about how to help the business, put your hand up instead of waiting for your employer.
If there was ever a time to stand out, it is now! This is what might get you a promotion down the line and in the meantime avoid being top of mind for job cuts.
Opportunity is still there. If you have an existing business, can you re-invent? It may be something different.
Can the same people who you thought you should let go of actually be the ones to help you do this?
Don’t be blind to the great investment opportunities at low prices that may be available during this period.
It would be a shame to go through the trying times without having discovered the lesson or opportunities that exist on the other side. Stay tuned for deeper conversations.