This is truly an unprecedented time. And small businesses around the country have suffered immensely. We cannot speak for the many companies going through this, as every situation is so unique, but we can share our experience.
I also want to preface that, although this is a devastating time for businesses, it is not without essential action for the health and safety of all the kiwis that reside here. It was a nationwide responsibility to go into lockdown, and we are grateful to be living in the incredible country that is New Zealand.
This is our experience from a small business perspective:
We were one of the lucky ones. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been hit like a lot of companies. But we were still able to supply to the 23 supermarkets we are currently in in the Upper North Island and online. We could keep operating – from a distance. With a small team, again we were in a lucky boat. Being a start-up, the work-from-home gig was familiar to us, albeit, our usual spots at local cafes were now no-go zones. It was definitely a shift, but we could still operate.
The first week of lockdown bought a sense of grief. We were set to launch into some new stores, with big plans for exciting campaigns and many events that were getting cancelled as the days went on. Everything except digital was completely canned. Although we know all of these exciting things will go on when the situation allows, it was heartbreaking seeing growth that we had worked towards for years be put on hold indefinitely.
We were classed as an ‘essential supplier’, but we weren’t the pasta, rice or staple food items you see on shelf. We felt this sense of guilt, that we could still supply to customers when so many other companies couldn’t. That’s when we considered temporarily shutting shop. We reached out to customers and our networks for their input. The voices came back at us loud and clear; if we were allowed to operate (which we were) then we should keep operating, and let people know because they wanted to support NZ made and owned companies. The support was incredible, with customers sharing more Phoric on their social media than ever before, in response to wanting to build up a little local venture. We were incredibly humbled by this.
The following weeks of lockdown, we talked amongst ourselves. What are our next steps? How can we secure the future of our start-up, when we don’t know what the future holds for any of us? How can we learn from this situation? What things can we pivot and adapt to as the world around us changes?
We have taken this time to re-centre ourselves and our business. We got a rest. This is the first time in 5 years that we haven’t been working 6 or 7 days a week between Phoric and university. We have done our absolute best in turning this potentially devastating situation, into an opportunity. And we are now preparing for the future - whatever that holds. With a focus around agility and adaptability. We will weather this storm.