"Why adopt a siege mentality?"
The longer the coronavirus lockdown goes on, the more my conversations with startups have varied from the norm. Just another example of ‘the new normal’ maybe, but recently I keep overhearing conversations comparing being in lockdown as being similar to being under siege.
But those comparisons are actually very apposite, as adopting a siege mentality is certainly something that can help you and your business survive these strange times.
Let me take a moment to explain what I mean by a siege mentality. Imagine if you will that you are happily living inside the castle walls going about your daily lives when on the horizon appears an approaching army intent on destroying you and as many people within the castle as possible. There are two obvious responses to this – either just meet the approaching army and accept that many will be slaughtered as you are in no way prepared, or lock the castle gates and keep the army at bay as much as possible, for as long as possible, whilst better preparing your defences.
But there is only any point in locking the gates if you expect to win, and it should only be a question of time and surviving long enough. But to that end you must immediately start to take all and every action possible to ensure that when the army camped outside the castle walls is either defeated or withdraws, and the gates are unlocked, that you have survived and are fit enough to start to return to whatever the new normal is.
So, returning to the real world and the coronavirus camped outside all our walls at the moment, what does adopting a siege mentality actually look like for you and your business? Initially the government put in place an unprecedented rescue package for employees, companies, and the economy as a whole, but sadly early stage non profitable businesses still fell between the gaps. However, a new £1.25bn package has just been announced that is aimed at supporting innovative new companies that were not eligible under any of the other schemes. But to qualify, the business must have raised £250,000 within the last five years, and any monies put in by the government will convert into equity if it is not repaid. This new scheme will go some way to plug many of the gaps but there will still be very many startups that cannot be classified as innovative and as such will still be left without external support.
At this stage we have no realistic way of knowing how long the coronavirus will lay siege to our business and it makes sense therefore to adopt measures that will help each and every business survive as long as possible. Over the last weeks, many of my recent articles have gone into detail about the measures that businesses can adopt in order to survive the siege but it is worth mentioning them again here:
- Working remotely
- Adaptation and agility
- Preserving cash flow
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and other government schemes
- Utilising bank loans, overdrafts and other forms of borrowing or raising more equity
With the exception of raising new equity, it is preferable that any business should be doing all of the above, together with any other measures that they can that may be applicable to their own circumstances. One of the very many uncertainties of being under siege is that there is simply no knowing how long it will last, and so it is best to plan for the worst and hope for the best. It is after all, much better to have survived until the siege is broken and still have reserves than it is to have died the day before the gates are opened again.
It would seem then that perhaps we should all try and learn from history. By adopting a siege mentality in these days of being locked down, both personally and corporately, then we are most likely to survive the siege of coronavirus and be well placed to see off any challenges to our business in the future.