Navigating upheaval: our last 7 days

By Anna Moegerlein

Like most small business and NFPs we only just began to comprehend the wholescale impact of the Coronavirus on our business and the Australian economy last week. Within 7 days it hit us hard. Travel restrictions meant that a large portion of our revenue was at risk overnight, and reduced social contact means no more face to face group workshops or accelerators for the foreseeable future.

Honestly, for most small business and NFPs right now the question is – how do we survive? What are our options? And how can we stay true to our values and stay sane through all of this?

Below we try to share how we’ve approached this crisis. We don’t have all the answers but we hope it helps. Even just a little bit. And we want to say: we’re in this sh*t with you. We are a small business too and we’ll help you in any way we can.

 

1. As leaders – Slow down to speed up

We took time as a leadership team last week. Honestly it couldn’t have come at a better time. It gave us the time to slow down, understand the changing context and identify how we wanted to respond. It’s given us confidence and clarity in our response. We asked ourselves these kinds of questions –

  • What is really unfolding?
  • What’s truth & what’s fiction?
  • What are our risks & how will we navigate?

Then we asked ourselves:

  • How will we succeed?
  • What is most important right now?
  • Who must do what?

We agreed that we would ‘charter a responsible course for our team and their families and communicate clearly and courageously about the world we believe in’. We agreed that we will not speak from a place of fear or scarcity. We’re scared – of course we are – but we agreed that it wouldn’t define our voice. We also agreed that from adversity comes great strength. But it’s not the rose-coloured glasses version. This is a confusing time and many sh*t things are coming from it. What we mean is that we’re open to the lessons that these times are teaching us, and we expect to be changed by them.

 

2. Analyse your numbers and make decisions early

We’ve looked at our forward cashflow and figured out where we can cut our expenses and what revenue lines are at risk. We have a situation where 50% of our business is international and face to face. We were carrying an extremely high risk in the current situation. We asked questions like

  • Can we think differently to secure our risks?
  • Can we deliver online?
  • How can we stay committed to our international partners without being physically present?
  • What new product could emerge as a response to the situation?

We are aiming for a break even in the next three months. We’re fully expecting that life won’t be back to normal (or maybe a new normal) until January 2021, so we don’t want to dip into our savings now. To do that would be equivalent to banking on future revenue which is highly uncertain. This is still unfolding as each announcement is made to tighten borders and social distancing becomes part of our day to day. The thing is we know where we stand and what levers we have to pull.

3. All washed hands on deck

On Monday we called a team meeting. Annie, our CEO, shared openly and honestly about how she was feeling and our plan. She talked about what we’re witnessing in the world and reminded us why TDi exists and what we stand for. She shared that our jobs could be at risk and we were doing everything to keep them. The team rallied. I’ve never been so proud of them.

We spent 2 hours mapping out our To Do List and dividing up the work.

 

4. How do you work around a design constraint?

One of things we’ve been focusing on is how to deliver our services digitally. No surprises there! What’s interesting is how quickly we’ve been able to figure out ways to work with our clients, ways that we previously would have not thought possible. We’ve really appreciated the good will of our customers, who want to continue to work with us and not postpone work.

 

5. Move as one

We’re having daily zoom calls to check in on our To Do List. It’s important that we move fast and keep focused as a team. We have to move as one to secure an immediate pathway through this.

 

6. Lean into the discomfort

Tonight I cried. I know that on the weekend Annie cried. It’s really sad and uncomfortable – whats happening right now. If we don’t stop and feel it, it’ll take us over. Brenė Brown has been saying, ‘it’s ok to be scared, just try not to be scary’. Honestly, being present to this fear, uncertainty and sense of responsibility, is what is keeping us sane right now. And helping each other to discern from Facts and Fake News… that’s been important too. And knowing our values and what we stand for, that’s been extremely important.

7. Move from crisis to something else

Crisis mode is not sustainable. Urgency is needed now but if we keep going like this, we will kill ourselves. The body can’t sustain our nervous system in overdrive, all the time. How do we shift gears from crisis to something else? We are trying some things, but we don’t have the answers yet. We suspect, across sector, we will figure it out together. If you have ideas, please share.

Spread the love

Ten years, a new chapter: Pioneering a new economy worthy of the human spirit

After ten years of learning and unlearning in economic development, our new strategy is a roadmap to an economy worthy of the human spirit.

Women’s economic equality: Breaking barriers, creating opportunities

To dismantle the barriers holding women back from economic participation, we must challenge existing paradigms, embrace innovation, and create opportunities designed for and by women. We're committed to making women's economic equality a reality, and we invite you to...

Inner Development key to achieve sustainable business growth: Our InsideOut Model

By Anna Moegerlein, Deputy CEO   In the realm of economic development, a critical realization has emerged—the need for a holistic approach that integrates Inner Development with Enterprise Development. We’ve spent years testing and refining our approach to...

Building Resilient Food Systems: Future Healthy Food Hubs

In 2022 we began a project in partnership with VicHealth and STREAT to provide business support to seven regional food hubs across Victoria. Running until 2024, the program aims to ensure the long-term financial viability and sustainability of the food hubs, thereby...

Collaborative Strategy Development for Sustainable NFPs: 5 Minutes with Brigid Canny, YLab

Learn how YLab collaborated with TDi to develop its new strategic plan, gaining clarity and confidence in its business model. Brigid Canny, Executive Director of YLab, highlights TDi’s flexible approach, coaching, and relationship-building in this 5-minute interview, providing insight into how TDi helps NFPs achieve their mission.

International Development: 3 Solutions for a New Approach to Capacity Building

TDi associate Kate Wilson examines the flaws in traditional international development strategies, and offers a new approach to capacity building with three powerful solutions.

International Women’s Day 2023: Driving Economic Empowerment for PNG Women through Digital Accessibility and Innovation

Learn how a comprehensive Inner Development coaching program with digital accessibility helped overcome unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in PNG and drive economic empowerment, especially during the pandemic.

Acknowledging Country: A new way to connect mindfully with an important practice

We recently engaged YARN Australia for a series of team workshops on storytelling, focussed on creating relationships and intentional connections between First Nations Australians and settlers. We invite you into our world as we share a practice from these workshops, and gratefully acknowledge the land we call home.

Kylie-Lee Bradford: Forging New Paths for First Nations Business

We recently welcomed Kylie to the TDi team. Kylie brings a wealth of experience in entrepreneurship as well as rich heritage and story from her Kakadu roots. Kylie is passionate about opening up opportunities for First Nations business to support and give back to...

Don’t Underestimate the Impact of Finance

by Isaac Jeffries, Senior Consultant     I recently had coffee with a university student, who is passionate about social impact but unsure about how to get a job in the industry. She’s studying maths and economics, and surprised me with this pearler of a...