By Owen Culliney

The last couple of weeks have been challenging. My household was hit with COVID, and it was hard going juggling two businesses and 700 students (my wife is a senior leader of a large school) while looking after sick kids and feeling like cr*p ourselves.

It was more about getting through than Hallmark family bonding moments in iso’, and for the most part, we were both able to work through the illness.

The thing is, though, that we could work from home. Not everyone can. Many industries do not have the luxury of ‘boxing on.’ Our friends in hospitality and retail, for example, need staff to be customer-facing. And most are also reliant on customers being out and about, so people staying home sick or caring for kids means less and sometimes very little revenue. 

That sucks. 

I’ve had calls from these business owners, and they have not been upbeat. I feel their pain. My second business (a denture business) relies on customers coming into the clinics, so numbers are down. Dentures, unfortunately, aren’t something we can do via Zoom.  

What can you do? I’ve observed over many years of advising business people and being in business myself that businesses always have choices. Sometimes, it may not feel like it with banks, suppliers and the IRD on your case and a team looking to you for leadership when all you want to do is take a duvet day. However, there is always a choice—a decision to make. 

Some businesses will decide to shut up shop. Others will dig deep and get through. Both choices are hard, but I want to write about the decision to stick it out in support of many of our clients on this path right now.

And because I do believe it is a good decision if you can make it work. Afterall, we don’t start or buy businesses for short term gains. We could get that as an employee with a bonus scheme. We do it for long term reasons, unlike a quick and lucky win at the casino. Building a business is an investment, and we need to expect the ups and downs.

So what do we face right now? Inflation, covid, war and a logistical nightmare with freight almost as unreliable as a Hamilton bus schedule. 

Many of us are feeling uncertain. Unsure of what the next quarter will bring. Wondering what the next ‘omicron’ will be.

But we needn’t be paralysed by fear.

It is all short term. It is. Covid won’t last forever. The war will end or become a protracted background track (sadly). Inflation will have its wicked way with our petrol tanks and shopping trolleys, and then the things that caused it will abate, and we will adjust. 

Wage levels will meet inflation, and we will be in a new normal. As consumers, we will return to the restaurants and retailers we loved before (and for most of us, that will be as soon as we can).

If you must close, do so with dignity and don’t let that decision define you. You will come through it.

Rudyard Kipling wrote: 

 If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    ⁠And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    ⁠Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

… you’ll be a man, my son. 

So bite down on the bit. Crack open the nest egg (if you have it) and invest in your future as you did when you bought or started that business of yours. Lean on your mates, talk a lot and take good counsel from good advisers. 

Good luck. See you on the other side.