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Spring 2020 - Being Resilient

In 2005, the year we set up MBM Commercial, I attended a course on disaster recover training and we spent some time discussing the fact that the world has statistically been overdue a pandemic for some time and that we should be ready for it. Four years later when news of swine flu first broke I ordered a large supply of surgical masks and gloves and my wife told me to stop overreacting.

That was over ten years ago and despite feeling I was ready for a pandemic, of course I wasn’t. Thankfully we are in a much better place than we were ten or fifteen years ago to get through this crisis, bearing in mind we have more resilient financial institutions, much improved communication systems, widespread cloud computing services, more acceptance of part-time and home-working practices, greater access to online deliveries and of course Netflix.

The world has changed in 2020 and so quickly. In 2019 we were worrying about Brexit and now it doesn’t even get mentioned. People are fighting for their lives throughout the country and across the world. We are now in a shock recession, many parts of the economy have been completely shut down and many businesses are fighting for their survival. We are on a war-time footing against an invisible enemy.

If we are going to survive and even prosper we need to take robust action and change what we do and do it quickly. For many businesses the government has bought us some time, but not much. This is the time to look at your business model and decide what is going to work going forward and what will not. This is the time to make sure you are doing whatever you can to strategically plan, to conserve cash, to raise cash, to look at your cashflows, to consider what Covid-19 support measures are out there, to look at your sales processes, and to consider what changes need to be made to keep your staff safe when you eventually ask them back to offices and other working environments. Above all else this is the time to show real leadership and team spirit.

The way in which we were living and working before Covid-19 struck has completely changed forever. How we interact in person is going to be restricted for a long period of time, with social distancing becoming the new normal and with all of the health related challenges that this is likely to bring. Business will evolve as a result and an increased use of technology will be at the heart of everything that we do. Looking ahead - what is going to be acceptable has changed overnight, large corporate travel and entertainment budgets will become a thing of the past, more of us will want to work from home (and may insist on it until there is a vaccine), on-demand digital services will grow, and appreciating and taking care of our environment will only continue to increase.

Every business is going to have tough decisions to make and if you need help then we are on hand to support you in whatever way that we can - whether that be acting as a sounding board, providing you with specialist legal expertise to help implement change, or just helping you with suitable introductions to our networks of contacts. We have set up a Covid-19 Legal Information Hub for entrepreneurs and I would encourage you to make reference to that. There are a number of articles over a range of topics which will hopefully give each reader something useful to help them with over the coming months.

A lot of people have been asking me how MBM is affected and what we are doing. We very quickly implemented home-working and our investment over recent years into secure cloud based back-office legal and payment systems has come into its own during this period of lock-down. A number of my colleagues have agreed to go on furlough leave and everyone has been willing to make a sacrifice to help ensure that our business remains fully operational during this time of crisis. There has been a real Dunkirk spirit which has made me so proud. We continue to help our clients complete deals using digital signatures and I am pleased that we have launched a Digital Deals Hub to help raise awareness of how best to do this.

During this time of uncertainty and challenge it is important that we don’t lose sight of what is really important to us. All of the staff at the NHS and our wider network of care support across the UK have been magnificent and gone over and above what we could reasonably expect of them. We can all do something to help and Captain Colonel Tom Moore at the age of 100 years proved that by raising over £30m for the NHS in a matter of days. If he can do that then what can you do? Whatever that may be we all need to do the right thing and regardless of the tough decisions that lie ahead we can’t lose our sense of humour or our humanity. In the past few weeks we have seen, and in some cases helped pro bono, clients set up new business initiatives which will help us all. They span from patient tracing, changing production to make much needed hand-sanitiser, rolling out digital products for online consultations, importing ventilators, building new types of ventilators, working on gene therapies to fight the virus and in one case setting up a factory in a fortnight that is now producing ten thousand PPE face masks a day.

Whatever happens over the coming months and years ahead and despite the terrible circumstances and uncertainty, I can be certain that there is never a better time to be entrepreneurial and to be ‘entrepreneurs for good’. Please take care of yourselves and if you need help from us, have any questions about the firm or comments on how we can improve our services then please do get in touch with me at seniorpartner@mbmcommercial.co.uk.

Best wishes,

Stuart Hendry
Senior Partner

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