Words by Paul Cadman, Chair Downtown Birmingham

Every day when the number of deaths are announced, I think about the families who have to pick up after their loss, unexpected, unprecedented and devastating. But I also think about where bereaved might work, whether they are business owners and are they facing a double whammy that puts their livelihoods at risk.

But then I think of the members of Downtown in Business in Birmingham: resilient, persistent and determined to get to the end of the tunnel and doing business again. I ask them to learn from any self-isolating. What is their IT infrastructure like? What processes can be conducted on-line rather than face to face? What improvements can they make to their logistics so that every customer is more satisfied than when we went into the pandemic.

The government’s furlough scheme is a life saver and when it is up and running gives us all an opportunity to improve communications (always a problem in business) and get everyone ready for the post-pandemic surge in demand.

There is a charity that I’m a trustee for. They shut down their offices and protected their staff earlier than most. They have disaster plans ready and check their cash flow almost every day. And because they work with the unemployed, they are getting ready now by learning from working from home to make their processes slicker and reducing their cost of operation. They are going out of their way to deliver more value add to their customers and have plenty in place for a significant increase in demand. They tell me they are pessimists. They work out everything than can go wrong and how to get around the problem. They are ready for anything.

We can all learn from them. This will all be over sooner than we think. Don’t be taken by surprise. Stay optimistic by being pessimistic and plan for the worst.