Article

How business is helping the fight against coronavirus

Mark Bentley
March 2020

You have to look quite hard to find it, but there is some good news out there. And it’s all about the power of transferable skills.

Many companies are starting to adapt their business model and approach to help in the fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19). These include some very large businesses, some changing tack quite dramatically. Spanish fashion giant Zara has switched to sourcing material to make hospital gowns and masks. Nivea has started manufacture of medical-grade disinfectants. Givenchy and Christian Dior – as perfume makers, experts in alcohol processing – are making hand sanitiser. 

As requested by government, UK automotive and engineering businesses are turning attention to the manufacture of ventilator machines. Alongside partners and competitors, Meggitt is hoping to lead production of tens of thousands of ventilators to treat coronavirus patients who develop respiratory problems as part of the infection. Firms including McLaren, Airbus, Jaguar Land Rover, and JCB are also offering to lend factory production facilities, and expertise, to help the cause.

These are not profit-driven, opportunistic moves. Notably, Scottish beer firm BrewDog is using its Aberdeen site to manufacture something very different from its normal product range. The snappily named BrewGel: Punk Sanitiser will be given away free.

Entrepreneurial spirit

It is truly inspirational to see the business community think so laterally to help fight the spread of this damaging virus. And although it’s the big names that make the news, thousands of smaller businesses and business leaders - including our clients here at BCMS - are also making changes, to help people get through these challenging times. The spirit of entrepreneurialism is alive and well.

Typically, our client businesses are led by agile, creative thinkers, who think fast and act faster. Like BrewDog, many of our clients have performed a lightning-quick about-face to try to do their bit. Recently, during a meeting with one client, he started to buzz with excitement as he told us how he had an idea to repurpose existing equipment to manufacture sanitising products. “We have the equipment and we have the capacity,” he told us. There were sparks flying off the page as mid-meeting he started to write down the staff and suppliers he needed to talk to make this happen, and quickly. Within a very short time frame, production had started. 

He’s not atypical. Entrepreneurs are born for a crisis – they see solutions where others can’t and have the will and strength of conviction to act accordingly. 

Stories from across our client base

We speak to our clients daily, because we believe now, more than ever it’s good to talk. We’re hearing some incredible stories. For some, productivity has inevitably slowed right down. They’re focusing on continuity but are also using this time to take a step back and do some much-needed housekeeping, in areas as diverse as learning and development, business admin, and brand management. 

For others, there aren’t enough hours in the day. Those involved in healthcare products, particularly the production of cleaning products, are experiencing unprecedented demand – with capacity at maximum and order books full for months.

Alongside other content – including video tips and advice from our former clients, the BCMS Fellows - we will try and showcase some of these stories from the frontline over the next few weeks. (Anonymously of course; confidentiality is still paramount!).

We hope by sharing our clients’ experiences with you, we can offer some comfort and support in these difficult times. After all, none of us have been through this before, and the situation is changing daily. It seems like the best way to cope with it is to go through it together… online, in a virtual community.

If you know of some inspiring stories, tweet us @bcms with the hashtag #entrepreneurialspirit