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Business and the way that we have done business over the past ten years or more has drastically changed over the past month. The way that we communicated to our clients has changed so much. We often did ‘face to face’ meetings, but we can no longer do this safely, according to health guidelines. Our capital cities where business once thrived are nearly empty. Business owners have sent their staff home to work remotely using new technology. Words like: Zoom; Skype; Hangouts; Meetings 365, these were communication platforms that we hardly ever used. Now we have to use them every day to communicate with our clients and our employees. We are worried about how we will survive through this CoronaVirus and what our business will look like after we are back to ‘normal business’ again.

Business owners have needed to adapt and change or else their businesses would no longer be able to survive. For the many business owners who have not been able to do this with a lot of businesses now having closed down. Long standing businesses, with loyal staff who have been with them for many years, no longer have a job. Our government has acted quickly and has been working overtime to try and help businesses survive through offering many business packages, to help the small business owners. We do not know how long this will go on and how it will affect us all. We do not know what our business world will look like in 3-6 months. I dare say, not what it looked like before CoronaVirus struck in Australia.

We have been left to our own devices to run our businesses as best we can. Many of us have been self-isolated. We have lost our feelings of independence as business owners. We have gone through many phases of doubt; worry; overwhelm; frustration; despair and panic. Some things we can change and adapt to, others we cannot. In business we have had to learn how to use online platforms to communicate with our clients and our staff. Our staff now work from home, so we now have to learn how to supervise them remotely. How to plan work ahead of time for them to do. How to have great trust in them to still work and be productive. This has taken a huge toll on most business owners that I know and I have spoken to over the past five weeks.

What Did I Do To Adapt and Change Due to CoronaVirus

Five weeks ago on a Monday morning, I got a call from my Accountant who said to me, “Rose you will need to take your business networking groups online or you will not survive this”. I was shocked and deeply affected by this conversation. He went on to say to me, “I have contacted one of my clients Tristram and he is standing by to assist you, in taking your weekly networking business online with Microsoft 365 Teams’ platform. A new business journey began that morning for me and my business. I had to adapt and change or I would not survive either.

It was scary and it felt like it was way outside of my comfort zone and everything about how I had traditionally done business for the past twelve years. Rachael, my Executive Assistant, arrived about an hour after my conversation with Tristram and I explained to her what we needed to do in order to take our weekly networking groups online within the next 7 days. I was so fortunate that Rachael was very ‘tech savvy’ and was able to learn how to operate this new platform and that Tristram was there to help and train Rachael. We did go live via Microsoft 365 Meetings on time in 7 days and despite a couple of adjustments we have made it work and we have adapted to this change and so have our many members who are business owners in Brisbane.

Being In a Networking Group Was Our Biggest Bonus

Over the past 8 years I have been building relationships of trust with the members of my three weekly networking groups. I had earned and gained their trust and now was the time that I needed to step up and be the Leader that they needed. Someone that they knew would be there for them, that would be able to continue to deliver outstanding weekly business education, that was relevant for our current business climate. Referrals and the right connections still needed to happen, to help keep my members engaged and connected. Coffee Meetings now had to be done by phone or by Skype or Zoom. We all had to learn how to adapt and change together.

I knew that communication with my Leadership Teams of my weekly networking groups was my number one priority right now. So I rang each one of them and talked about their business and how they were coping, what strategies that they had put in place and made sure that they were still keen to continue in their leadership positions. Everyone said “Yes Rose, I am”. The long hours of building relationships of trust over many years and months, had just paid off for me.

This was a huge plus for me.

It was no longer a case of just Rachael and I, we now had the backing of my whole Leadership team behind us. We could adapt and we could move forward with confidence now.
In fact many of my members stepped up and took on advisory roles in the Brisbane business community, doing Pro-Bono Work for business owners who had no-one to talk to. They rallied around my members that needed advice as well as many businesses owners that they did not know. We were not only a business networking group that met weekly. but we were also a networking community that cared about each other when it mattered most. The support that I have received has been truly amazing. Being a part of a networking group during the CoronaVirus was a rock-solid part of my business and my members’ businesses also.

Your business journey is not one that you do in isolation. Successful business owners have other business owners that they know and trust as advisers and also ‘sounding boards’. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to not have this business support system in place.

As I continue this journey over the next few months, I know that I will have many more challenges and hurdles to overcome. However, I am never on my own. I am surrounded by great people that care about me and my business, that will stand by me and help me to succeed. I have learnt to run my business a day-at-a-time, with a broad plan for the future. Every day there is a new government policy, a new challenge, but I am very tenacious and I will not give up. I will keep on taking one step forward at a time.

This is my story. A story of one business owner’s successful journey, during these difficult days.

Written by Rose Gibbens – Director Networkers Referral Group
Phone: 0478 201 866 Email: rose@nrggroups.com.au