Coronavirus hit Europe, we added it to iMultiply’s risk register and discussed it at a Board meeting early March, but we did not nearly predict the extent of its immediate impact on business.
As COVID-19 cases hit the UK and we moved to remote working, I felt fortunate that everyone I knew was safe and well and the iMultiply team’s transition from office to home was smooth.
I wasn’t prepared for what followed.
During the next week my team were receiving numerous calls from employers putting recruitment on hold and cancelling interviews. The hardest conversations where with a number of individuals due to start new jobs. Most had already handed in their notice with their current employer, one had relocated, and one had made preparations to relocate. Their new roles now postponed indefinitely.
The next three weeks were reactive, as people started posting on social media what they were doing with their extra time, I felt like I’d never been busier focusing on the C’s; customers, costs, cashflow, communication, collaboration, as well as digesting the numerous government updates and our ever changing environment. The days rolled into one and passed very quickly, I didn’t sleep much, drank too much wine and the best word to describe how I was feeling was ‘wired’.
Now iMultiply’s short-term reactive plan has been actioned, I would no longer describe how I’m feeling as ‘wired’. iMultiply is fortunate to have good cash reserves for its size, there is still some demand for talented finance professionals, and I have a capable team that I trust. However, my brain very much feels in overdrive. I’m not sure if I’m switching off, what does that really mean for a small business owner anyway? There’s always more that can be done. I am sleeping much better but if I wake up during the night, I’ll start doing an email, scenario planning, or writing down ideas that could support iMultiply’s growth longer term. I’m inspired by how other industries are adapting and dealing with the crisis, what can I learn from them? If I try to watch a box set, I can’t help but feel guilty, could that time be spent more productively!? I think about the team constantly, sometimes as a whole or sometimes I go through everyone individually.
The question I keep asking myself is; Am I doing enough?
I’m lucky to have a great network of other business owners/leaders and find comfort in the fact that it’s not just me feeling this way. One said to me if they got a report card today it would say “could do better.” Another was talking about how much was going on and commented that they “need to get bored, to think more strategically”, implying that they were stuck in reactive mode. Someone else who’s mind went into overdrive said they had overcome this recently by writing down 5 things that shifting slightly would help move the business forward and if they shifted just one a little bit in a day, they’d see that as a win – great idea.
The irony is that as I write this, I realise I’m wasting time and energy thinking about whether I’m doing enough! When I founded iMultiply I wanted to challenge convention, support the local ecosystem, and bring good people together to make awesome sh*t happen, this arguablely has never been more relevant. This is the commitment I’m making to myself now: I am going to have a couple of ‘switch off days’ then I’m going to write down what would be ‘doing enough’ and work on shifting one of those things slightly each day. I find it hard to give myself permission to have down time but iMultiply’s MD and Chair both told me this week to take a couple of days off so if I can’t give permission to myself maybe I should take it from them!
*Originally posted on LinkedIn