The cards are being reshuffled
Before the Pandemic
Over the past few weeks we have ALL been hit with a silent tornado and the game has changed.
Anyone that has experience playing BlackJack knows that when the cards get shuffled – the game is about to start over.
In Poland we’ve experienced over a decade of unprecedented economic growth. I arrived in 2012 and every day I’m seeing new apartment complexes and business offices where vacant lots and/or decrepit structures used to stand.
Because of the qualities of the universities, hard-working culture, and EU tax subsidies many multinational companies created footholds for their service centers. Wroclaw specifically has also become an oasis for IT specialists – some of whom started massively successful businesses.
Since 2012, I’ve seen the cost of living increase almost in lockstep with the amount of disposable income.
With that boost, the hospitality sector has not just flourished – it’s bloomed!
And now this…
The Polish government reacted fairly fast to shut down schools, borders, and other non-essential public spaces because they knew the medical infrastructure wasn’t ready for such a hit. More importantly, the majority of people have wholeheartedly embraced social distancing.
These steps are critical in curbing the damage being caused by this tornado – but we have to seriously take a look at the present as well as the future.
From the perspective of a small business owner, imagine having to shut your doors.
You have employees and suppliers that depend on you. Your business and home have utilities that don’t stop, food is a must, and your taxes & social security are still due. Don’t forget that your landlord (or the bank) will expect their money when the bill is issued.
You are the thread in a delicate fabric that relies on you to keep moving forward.
When this thing hit, I’m sure that you panicked. I panicked. Only the covidiot hasn’t panicked.
Enough is enough!
Now is the time to switch that scared little bug off and start thinking. We need to make the shift from ‘panic’ to ‘solutions’.
Look around and see where the problems are, in regular times they might not be too obvious – but right now they’re glowing red.
What am I seeing? The same things as you.
People are at home, they’re doing their duty of social distancing and limiting their movement to the necessities. Some are able to earn their living remotely and others have to be physically present to fulfill their duty, such as medical, postal, police, store clerks, etc.
There’s the third group that has to go out and produce in order to meet demand and make ends meet. This group is the hospitality sector, the manufacturing workers, the producers who supply other businesses, the small shop owners, etc.
The third group is just as much a backbone as the first two because all three have created a balanced relationship that is now being severely tilted.
The third group is doing it’s best to stay afloat. In the restaurant sector, almost every business I know is offering delivery. They have no other option. They’re doing it on their own or creating small (1 to 2 business) partnerships.
Despite these efforts, most of these entrepreneurs are regularly redlining their businesses finances. This isn’t because they’re irresponsible, it’s because they’re consistently aiming higher to reach a bar of expectations that is constantly raising.
And now they’re running on fumes.
So they cut all the unnecessary expenses to make sure the core of what they do remains unscathed.
Now that they’ve made changes (big or small), processes are created that weren’t there before.
Every day is a new experience and with it comes mistakes, fuckups, and occasional victories. The benefit is that feedback is immediate and hopefully their navigation skills improve.
With time, experience, and modified business models many of these companies will be different than what they were on January 1st. Some of them will be gone, a few will remain the same, and some will become stronger.
Let’s see what the first few cards of the deck are, and count the chips once we’ve identified our odds.
What have we been doing?
When this thing hit, I personally went into panic mode for about three days. Fortunately, I had a number of conversations with some very smart people and it helped me take a step back.
I saw these glowing red issues:
- Food businesses were either closing their doors or going into delivery mode
- Offices were going remote
- Small producers were losing the core sales that kept them running
- Hourly workers were finding themselves with little to no hours
So what’s my plan?
At Pampa we came up with the idea of creating a distribution hub for pickup and delivery of healthy food products made by small producers, restaurants, and businesses in Wroclaw.
It took me three days (and nights) to create a plan with as many helpful strategies as I could think of and put it all into a detailed proposal.
Since then I’ve been talking with small businesses that produce great products but are affected by the situation. I’ve partnered with a few and I’m still waiting for the responses of others.
With the generous assistance of Yuush (an e-commerce design company from Wroclaw), I created a website in under 2 weeks where everything can easily be found, ordered, and paid for.
I created a marketing plan for a new FB business page, bought the Instagram handle for the company name from someone, and set up a profile on GoogleMyBusiness.
Depending on demand, I hope to be able to hire a few people that lost their income from hourly work.
Delivery will be done by foot, bike, car, and/or Ekospedycja – a delivery bike company created, owned, and operated I’m Wroclaw.
This new company will operate on a certain number of standards:
- A simple one producer per product policy
- Heightened emphasis on hygiene
- Price stability unless raw materials raise drastically
- Open communication between producer & clients
The goals of this company will be to:
- Deliver healthy goods to peoples’ homes during this period of social distancing
- Employ people who depended on hourly wages that don’t exist at this time
- Keep products from small producers circulating in order to help them stay afloat
- I have no idea how this plan will be received but I do know that from the moment this idea was sparked, I’ve been calm and at ease because I had a plan.
Ladies and Gentlemen, place your bets…