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An entrepreneur in COVID times | Suzanne Haeck – MaximaVida

blog - 4 min.

Entrepreneurs handling the COVID-19 virus

Together with her partner, Suzanne Haeck is in charge of MaximaVida. MaximaVida is a company specialized in garden furniture. Their bestseller is picknicktafel.nl.

How are they handling business in these uncertain times?

What measures are you currently taking?
In a situation where everything is uncertain, it helps me to work out different scenarios with their consequences.
This gives me the feeling that I can keep a hold on the situation. So I made several financial forecasts last week based on a variety of measures.

So what will be the impact on our sales in the coming weeks, because everyone will work from home and in and around the house?
What is normally the share of the catering and event industry and what is the effect of their for-closing on our turnover?

Then I looked at what this could mean for the cash flow. When would I run into problems with paying the salaries, which invoices can I possibly pay later, with which suppliers can I consult if necessary, for which tax can I apply for postponement and what arrangements are there from the government where I can claim if necessary.
And what input do I need for these schemes and is it available or do I still need to do something about it.

Fortunately, we are in a situation with a company with 2 webshops (maximavida.com and picnicktafel.nl) and sales through various marketplaces that most of our turnover comes from those online channels.
Because many people are at home and do odd jobs in the house and in the garden, our online sales to consumers have even increased, so that we can absorb the lack of other channels so far. But I can imagine that if you have a catering business or event agency or work in healthcare, your challenges are completely different and much more intense.

How do you handle your supply chain?
Some of our products are produced in China. Fortunately, all our containers for Chinese New Year were at sea in January, so we received all the spring purchases before the Wuhan region and other regions in China went on lockdown. So we have enough stock to sell in the coming months. We are now looking at how we can be less dependent on China in the future and how we can add new production channels in Europe.
I am shocked by how much impact China has on the world economy and how large the percentage of production coming from China is. You know it, but the outbreak of the corona virus suddenly makes it much more visible. So if we spread our risks even more across different regions, countries and even continents, we are slightly less vulnerable in our supply chain.

How do you arrange everything with your staff?
I notice that I think it is important to keep in touch with our team. They also need clarity about procedures, such as washing your hands, what to do when you have a cold, etc., but they are also uncertain about the future, their job, etc.
That is why I think it is important to include them in the current state of affairs and give them an estimate of what we as an entrepreneur expect in the near future. If you manage the company with several people, it is very important to ensure that you are also aligned with regard to communication to the team and to other parties. To be honest, I find it quite a challenge to remain calm and show confidence in such an uncertain situation, so consultation with a business partner is very pleasant.

What opportunities do you see at the moment?
For us the main priority at the moment is that everyone stays healthy, so we can keep going. And because the turnover is continuing well at the moment and we expect that everyone will still be at home for the time being, we are looking into which items we may have to buy.

Positive thought to conclude with:
I read a beautiful but penetrating message from Claire van den Heuvel on Instagram with the title “If not now then when” written from the idea that the world and our society is in a transition phase and that we are now just realizing that things have to change. And I also see that more people are working together, wonderful initiatives are emerging in society, working from home suddenly seems to become the new normal and there are many positive effects on the environment at the moment, because the economy is slowing down. So I focus on the idea that things will be better in the end!

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