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Courage in adversity

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Over the last year a number of businesses in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have been taking a beating. Since March 2020, local businesses have encountered waves of external challenges that have the potential to be detrimental. Most recently is the explosive eruption of the La Soufriere volcano. Although this volcano was erupting effusively since December 2020, many hoped that an explosive eruption would have occurred later rather than sooner. As we grapple with the extent of the devastation that awaits when the ashes settle; many businesses are battling to conduct normal business operations with limited public transportation, employees that are distracted and overwhelmed and no pipe-borne water, while being ‘neck deep’ in ashes. These challenges are enough to bring the strongest of us to our knees.

At this point, a possible option, especially for small business owners, is to give up. However, your business can see the backside of both a global pandemic and a volcanic eruption. All the success stories you have heard before are referred to as such, because the actors underwent tremendous pressure and exuded resilience and grit even when the situation seemed impossible. Our current predicament is apt for the birth and development of greatness in our business community, men and women with backbone and tenacity, who refuse to buckle under the pressures of the external environment.

Even when that which you cannot control comes in like a flood and stands before you in insurmountable proportions, all is not lost. Here are some suggestions that will help you stay afloat. First, be sensitive to your staff, small actions to encourage and motivate go a long way in these times. You must recognise that although staff are physically present, the gravity of the ongoing eruptions is emotionally and mentally exhausting, so most of your staff are not mentally at their best. Second, offer flexible employment, such as a shift system, so that your employees can have more time to sort out transportation to get to work and to take care of their homes and families. In so doing, they can better take care of the company’s business. Lastly, you must be considerate to staff with respiratory problems. Remember the current situation is just temporary and you need your employees for the long term. Times are tough, but Martha Graham said, “Fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men,” so don’t you dare roll over and die.

Dr. Wendyann Richardson is a Management Consultant who specializes in corporate governance, business operations management and refining of skills through training. She can be reached at [email protected]