Entrepreneurs talking business during the COVID-19 virus
Underestimation is the main enemy
“Oh madam, it’s only a flu…”, I do remember the remark of the school principal well. COVID19 gains its strength from ongoing underestimation. So there’s exactly the key to our victory!
DeeDee Pouch Professionals has her main suppliers in China. Our first partner even residents in Wuhan city. So the impact of COVID19 was made clear to us from its source. Our Chinese partners excelled in direct acceptation of their temporal faith (1st learning point). They immediately started preparing different action scenario’s, both for direct implementation and for later efficient restart (2nd learning point). Doing nothing is a no go, waiting is only physically accepted. “Persistence is the key to success” was their advice.
Our personal interpretation as well was to take action immediately. We met with our mentor Elske Doets (Doets Travel Agency) to give us mental support and strength. Then we started with our emergency plan (3rd learning point) Which alternatives did we have for logistics and production? Which customers would be hurt first and/or most? Where were the main risks for continuity of DeeDee?
As one of the first companies in The Netherlands we applied for social support in shortening working hours and were granted subsidy within a day. Dented our pride? Possibly. But as Mr. Mark Rutte (Prime Minister The Netherlands) indicated during the Business Boost Live event some weeks ago; “Power is possible without ego” (4th learning point). With this support we covered our biggest financial risk for the short term. For that, we are the Dutch government extremely thankful.
A period of extreme pressure started. In the Netherlands complete ignorance existed of the impact and risks of Corona, the ‘Chinese’ virus. Customers weren’t always showing understanding, while our partners were disinfecting streets and maintaining complete lock-down in their apartments for already over 50 days….. At DeeDee we took extreme efforts to provide pouches as timely as possible, I even helped emptying a container myself. The energy and ownership of all our staff was immense, a proud team stood up for our company. Extreme open communication and involvement of everybody by us as leaders was in my opinion the main key here (5th learning point).
In the meantime China is restarting normal life phase by phase and practically all our partners are producing efficiently again. They had their plans ready, their networks involved and they really made the impossible possible for us, both in terms of production and logistics! We are extremely proud of them and our bond only strengthened (6th learning point). Because of their efforts, DeeDee is able to deliver all placed orders, mostly only with days of delay. This is important as many of our customers deliver ambient food products and/or personal health care products; which we all need urgently these days.
DeeDee successfully prevented underestimation, also in our own office and warehouse. We were already mostly working from home and cancelled all personal customer visits at the time I spoke with our school principal. Directly after the first break-outs, we split up the team at the office in two, reducing infection risks to the minimum. Non-employees (logistic partners mainly) are only allowed when healthy, need to wash hands and stay away from our common areas. Hysterical? Possibly. But until now everybody at DeeDee team is healthy!
And please don’t think we are ready now! (7th learning point). Our emergency plan is still updated weekly. What if the harbor of Rotterdam needs to be closed? What if we do get infected team members? Find a sparring partner and take all your unthinkable questions seriously (8th learning point). Only then you, as entrepreneur, will be capable to overcome underestimation and to defeat ‘the monster Corona’.
Forewarned is fore armed.
Good luck and stay safe to all entrepreneurs!
On behalf of DeeDee Pouch Professionals
“We need to organise our work better ánd smarter” says Martine Meijburg. Meijburg founded Second Degree in 2013; the first LinkedIn marketing agency (worldwide). A success, as the agency became one of the fastest growing companies in the Netherlands (Silver FD Gazellen Award in 2016), servicing clients such as Philips, KLM and Microsoft.
Martine is an author, public speaker and was listed in The Next Women 100 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and the Adformatie100 in 2017. She shares with us her experiences as an entrepreneur and member of The Next Women.
She got into the world of recruitment because she showed talent for it and acted on that: at TNW we love playing out your strengths. Now, with her own company and being a mother of two, Dayanara Vonk Ilaria reflects on her journey: “Leadership really is learning how you can influence yourself.”