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Image / Editorial

Colin Harmon’s excellent Twitter thread is the perfect guide for anyone reopening a business today

by Megan Burns
29th Jun 2020

As many businesses open today for the first time in months, 3FE owner Colin Harmon has compiled the best advice he’s learned working through the pandemic. 

For some businesses, today marks their first day opening to the public in months since restrictions were introduced back in March. While owners are doubtless keen to get their businesses up and running again, for many this will be tinged with nerves and apprehension.

They will have had to adapt their spaces, think through how their business can adjust to social distancing and protect both their staff and customers. As someone who has kept their business open through the pandemic, 3FE owner Colin Harmon has put together a Twitter thread with tips for those who are reopening today.

While the various adaptions that each business has to take will be unique, Colin has brilliantly compiled some universal advice from practical aspects like deliveries, to the more personal, encouraging people not to be discouraged if they get something wrong. Here, we break down Colin’s thread and all its helpful advice.

Deliveries and signage

Knowing when to expect deliveries is key to how many businesses operate, so Colin’s advice here is important. Starting out with the expectation that deliveries will take longer than usual can help business owners plan accordingly, and avoid over-promising to their customers.

While businesses may have had signs previously to inform customers about products or special offers, never before has signage been so important to keep customers and staff safe. Finding the most effective way to display information to people could be a process of trial and error, so it’s good to point this out to people.

Everyone is stressed

Although we’ve had a few months to adjust, many people are still extremely stressed by leaving the house and being in close proximity to others. This can take the form of outbursts, particularly at unfortunate staff, but Colin reminds us here it’s not personal.

He also makes the important point for business owners and their staff to take care of themselves during this stressful time. That feeling of exhaustion after a day at a new job is one we have all experienced, and it’s a special kind of tired that comes from having to operate in a totally new environment.

Keep it simple and don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Colin’s first piece of advice here seems particularly important. With so many changes in how businesses can operate, no one should feel guilty about a more streamlined offering when they reopen. If things go smoothly, you can add things back gradually, but it’s better to start off with something you can be sure is manageable.

His second also rings particularly true. This situation is new for everyone, and every business has to make so many individual decisions about how they can function in this new normal. It’s inevitable that you won’t get everything right first time. It’s only once things are up and running that you can see where adjustments will have to be made: this doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

It will be stressful, and how to make the most of quiet periods

Another reminder to be kind to yourself in these stressful times, Colin’s wisdom here shows his experience. After months of uncertainty for business owners, reopening is another stress in itself, so undoubtedly this will come through at some point.

Low customer numbers might be a nightmare for many businesses, especially after months of no income, and often recent expenditure on re-configuring their space for social distancing measures. However, Colin shows that it can be an opportunity to improve, so that once those customers do come back they’ll have an even better experience.

Go at your own pace, and look after yourself

Colin makes the excellent point here that just because your businesses is allowed to reopen, does not mean that you have to if you don’t feel ready. He also recognises that many businesses will never be the same as they were pre-pandemic, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Necessity is the mother of invention, so the saying goes, and many businesses are already finding innovative ways to adapt.

He also reiterates the need to take care of yourself. You can’t run a business well if you’re constantly on the point of burnout.

Many business owners have thanked Colin on Twitter for his advice, with others who have already opened saying it is extremely accurate to their own experiences.

Featured image: 3FE

Read more: Susan O’Sullivan, owner of Farmhouse Café tells us how she’s adapting her business post lockdown

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Read more: ‘The pandemic forced us to pivot our business model — this is how we did it’