Many businesses are currently facing their toughest ever challenge. Who ever filled in a SWOT chart for their business and placed COVID-19 in the Threats box? Similarly with planning for the future of your business, when considering internal and external influences, it would be hard to imagine anyone predicting such a huge negative external impact from a worldwide pandemic. There is a lot of specific advice I am giving to businesses at the moment in what to do to survive – and even thrive – but the best piece of general advice I would give to any business at the moment is to be completely open and transparent – with your staff, your clients and yourself.

Remember when you were a child still at school and you used to pass notes to your classmates while the teacher had his or her back turned? We all thought we were very clever, and we could pass notes or whisper to our classmates without being caught.

Then when you reach adulthood and maybe even have children of your own, you suddenly realise how much you can see as an adult and how you are aware of almost everything your children are doing, and they are only getting away with it because you let them. Standing in front of a class of kids is even funnier. The teachers know who is friends with whom, who likes someone else, and who had a fight yesterday.

It is much the same with clients. Clients know intuitively when you are trying to fool them. You might get away with it once, but it really isn’t worth it. If you do it twice, you will lose all credibility and trust.

My advice is to be completely transparent. Clients are generally happy as long as they see integrity and honesty. One sad aspect of modern society is that we no longer say sorry. The theory is that if we say sorry, we will be sued because we have admitted liability. On the contrary, I believe that most clients just want to have their services delivered in an appropriate way, and if a mistake happens, they want it resolved and they want to move on with life. In general, they don’t want to go to the trouble of taking every cent you have (keep in mind that there are about 1.7 percent of the population that are this way inclined, but hopefully they aren’t your clients).

Most clients are humans, and humans make mistakes. It is actually soothing to hear a business admit they made a mistake, apologise, and then lay out the steps to resolve the issue.

Next time you see an opportunity, be open and transparent and apologise, and be ready to help your client up after he or she faints! If the client sues you for the admission of liability, then I am sorry for the bad advice!

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