30 Apr 3. Nurturing our Future
‘Be Patient in the Storm and Focus on the Sunshine After’ – Unknown
Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry boasts many categories for members ranging from large independents, franchises, and chain stores. A high proportion of members fall into smaller categories such as therapy or salons, events and leisure and those who work from home. We are all in this current chaos together, we hear the cry. However, the level of hit that the individual members will be taking varies as much as the membership types we boast.
That leaves the Chamber as well as local groups such as Rotary, Council or Lions in a difficult place. Unable to offer ‘one size fits all’ help or places to find advice, they still provide support and solidarity.
Many smaller businesses may be able to work technically; however, they rely on clients providing orders. The clients are unable to work, leaving our businesses little means of trading during these times. Some companies have been able to diversify or find ways of sustaining their companies. Dextra Ltd is leading a local initiative, to providing PPE to our community healthcare workers. They are sourcing unusual and innovative items from neighbouring companies and residents to create what is needed
Even larger companies are having to furlough staff on grounds of staff safety as well as lack of business. Some have a small number of available hours or workers and split time and furloughs to suit. Bosses are trying to accommodate their priorities to staff welfare and retention, their need to keep the firm ready to bounce back and to pay the production and supply costs that are not covered by Government Schemes.
How can we all get through and recover from this extraordinary situation?
There has never been a better time to support local initiatives, to encourage the small traders and bring our focus back to the community around us. When we return to normal, we will find it different to the one we left behind. The character of our communities will have changed. Relationships will be different, and requirements will have shifted gear.
It is in these lean times new ideas will grow from existing traders who should be backed and helped. It is right to nurture our small businesses and encourage the re-emergence of our high streets and industries to forge new paths to prosperity.
As we gather each week to clap and appreciate the wonderful things being done by key workers in the NHS, emergency services as well as many other silent services, let us think about the future. As communities we need to continue to cherish our local companies to encourage them to lead us through the next period of uncertainty. There is going to be a struggle for a while but we are British and it is in our nature to overcome It is the small businesses that will trigger the economic upturn if we support them now and as we come out of lockdown.
Dorset Chamber website has a dedicated section https://www.dorsetchamber.co.uk/business-support-2/coronavirus-covid-19/ which allows you to sign up to their newsletter and invites you to send questions pertaining to your own situation.
The Government also have a comprehensive website for information on what is available and how to claim.
Dorset Business Mentors formerly (Dormen) offers mentoring to small and medium-sized businesses. It might be worth having a chat with them to guide us through this storm and get us ready for the other side.
Our own website has a directory of members, all of whom can be contacted. They may be on part-time hours, remote working or temporarily closed but they will respond. Some are open and adapting in unexpected ways. If you need to use a member do not be afraid to contact them and see what they can do for you.
As you may be aware our AGM has been delayed. As soon as we are able to host this we will. Our networking evenings are also cancelled during the present crisis but we hope to resume these as soon as we are permitted to gather again. The committee is not currently meeting but will call ad hoc meetings if required to do so. You can email the committee members anytime.
Chamber are maintaining their social media presence. All businesses with news to shout out or just to let us know how you are coping please email firstname.lastname@example.org direct. She is still open for business. Now more than ever is a good time to keep your name in the mind of your clients and your presence however small, visible.
Please stay safe and together we will get through this.
‘One Small Purchase Can Make a Big Difference’ – unknown