Created 6th May 2020

To Portfolio Magazine

By Neil Hart, Group Managing Director

At the time of the final draft of Portfolio being ready and due to print the world turned upside down and the impact of Coronavirus heightened, forcing many businesses to close and entering many of us into isolation or ‘lockdown’.

The uncertainty we thought we had conquered following Brexit once again reappeared and this time with a vengeance, quickly launching the population into panic.

The government stepped in and provided solutions and a safety net (of sorts) which has helped business owners to forward plan and protect their team. It seems that lessons have been learned and that there is generally more support in this crisis compared to the recession, resulting in general sentiment remaining fairly positive in direct comparison – obviously given the circumstances. That said, we are still unsure of the long-term impact this will have on our markets, and it is feared that a lot of businesses are unlikely to survive.

I’ve gone on record previously stating that innovation is key for organisations to achieve in this fast moving and challenging economic climate – and now the ability to adjust accordingly is more important than ever. In our economy, it is dangerous for businesses to rest on their laurels. The ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ outlook no longer applies. I have no doubt that businesses which think fast, adapt and overcome will come out at the other side stronger than ever. For example where possible, organisations have turned to e-commerce as website traffic heightens, whilst restaurants have been allowed to provide delivery services.

Tom Holland and Jeff Katzin, from global business consultancy firm Bain & Co recently provided a fantastic analogy to CFO Magazine; “Think of a recession as a sharp curve on an auto racetrack- the best place to pass competitors, but requiring more skill than straight-ways.

The best drivers apply the brakes just ahead of the curve, turn hard toward the apex of the curve and accelerate hard out of the curve.”

As a company, our success has been built on our determination and agility – the company survived the recession thanks to the dedication of our team, and I have no doubt that we will do it again. The economy at the moment feels eerie - as though it’s the calm before the storm. As you will all agree, it is absolutely not business as usual but whether the storm will come and how big it will be is still a question hanging over us all.

There are disappointing elements to come out of this situation, for instance national organisations which we know are financially stable claiming they can’t pay rent and some parties fairly obviously taking advantage of the situation and climate, however, as a whole the North East business community has shown its true resilience and has not crumbled under this tremendous pressure.

Thinking of the positives, once we are on the other side of this, we can reflect on how difficult it was, the valuable lessons we have all learned and how we can all do better and be better, both professionally and personally. I doubt we will take stability for granted for a while.

Stay home and stay safe whilst we are advised to. Take any time you have to learn a new skill and exercise and before you know it, we will be back in action.

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