Only people who have lived through a major disaster, like the Christchurch Earthquake of 2011, can understand the subtle changes in outlook and fortune these natural events make in your life. Even if you are only affected in a minor way your outlook on the certainty of life is forever changed.
Major disasters affect your life because they disrupt your income: your business or your employment or the market in which you offer products and services. If you no longer have premises to work in, what can you do? In the Christchurch earthquake many buildings were unsafe to work in, so businesses scrambled to relocate – moving into residential buildings that were often unsuitable for their commercial purpose. Or they doubled-up with other businesses which added stresses because of the lack of space. The stress levels of the whole community rose along with the fear as the city was rocked by countless aftershocks.
The changes in location made it hard to reach former clients: electronic and hardcopy records were lost or unable to be retrieved when unsafe buildings were officially blocked off to access by owners and tenants. Even though many businesses showed huge resilience in getting back down to business they had to:
- Re-establish contacts with suppliers who had also moved elsewhere
- Locate replacement products and electronic equipment and …
- Wrestle with Insurance companies, which were also dealing with re-locations of their own and struggling under the enormity of the disastrous earthquake
Large companies survive disasters, like earthquakes, because they have reserves of cash/investments they can call on to buy new leases. They are also attractive as new tenants and can negotiate deals.
Small businesses, especially service businesses, are not so lucky. Their reserves have often been used to set up in the first place and are constantly being re-invested into the business to establish a sound financial footing. When the ground is literally shaken from under them, their viability is also threatened. Business life has to change.
I was heartened to come across this website of a Tanya Townsend, a Clinical Medical Herbalist, whose livelihood was destroyed by the earthquake, but who is now using and marketing her knowledge in a different way. She has set up Naturalus – a natural health online store and I love the philosophy behind her medicinal herb products. And there are herbal products designed to help you cope with stress.
Not only has Tanya gone online (her Facebook site is here), she has also gone back to grassroots marketing by regularly meeting her customers face-to-face at a local (farmers) market in Riccarton, Christchurch. Good on you, Tanya, for being a survivor, even though life will never be the same.