2020 has been an odd year for entrepreneurs. Many people have spent the year wondering whether the middle of a pandemic is the right time to launch their business, while others have seen opportunity even in the middle of the chaos and have come through the year in better shape. It’s also been a year in which everyday workers have experienced a lot of what the typical entrepreneur does, working from home and discovering the joys of remote conferencing software. There has also been the question, on both sides of the entrepreneur/worker divide, of stockpiling.
While for many people, stockpiling has been a way to ensure they have enough food, medication and, famously, toilet paper, it has always been something entrepreneurs have needed to consider. Doing a thriving trade in your chosen niche will mean that you must by necessity keep supplies on hand; it’s always better to have more than you need than to not have enough (and little hope of getting it). For UK-based entrepreneurs, the latest development in this chaotic year is the domino rally of announcements from other countries that, in the wake of a new Covid strain, they are closing ports to UK firms and customers.
As 2021 is likely to at least start on an uneven keel, is there still a decision to be made over stockpiling further? Or has that ship sailed? Below, we’ll look at the arguments on either side.
The blockade is short-term (for the moment)
The immediate reaction to this latest announcement was to note that it would affect supply lines for UK businesses, and it’s certainly untimely for this to happen in the week leading up to Christmas. For the moment, however, the majority of the closures are short-term, with deadlines that expire within 48 hours. Rushing to stockpile items now – and seeking to source them from UK sources which will be swamped anyway – may mean your business pays a premium and ends up with more stock than it should be carrying. Caution is recommended.
It’s a good idea to be open to communication
With an escalation in the Coronavirus crisis happening as European Union negotiations reach their climax, in the week before Christmas, it’s fair to say we’re living in a fast-changing situation. Being able to react to changes is vital, and this will be easier to achieve if you keep your finger on the pulse; if the conditions indicate you should buy more stock, you need to be able to buy quickly and store safely even if that means an emergency purchase of stackable storage boxes. Nothing about the current situation is normal, so normal protocols are not sufficient right now.
In the longer term, greater stockpiling may be inevitable
One of the messages coming through as a result of this year’s many twists and turns is that dealing with extreme circumstances requires decisive action. It’s hard to make all the right decisions to deal with a pandemic, but the best way to gain the upper hand is to act fast, act hard and only worry later about whether your action was proportionate. The fact remains that if you have a stockpile you can’t use, you can at least sell it on for some return. If you have no stockpile, you can’t fulfil orders, and we may be facing months of sporadic supply lines – so be ready to take bolder action than you usually would.
In conclusion, it is never too late to stockpile, but the present moment may not be the right time. It is, however, essential to be ready to stockpile more in the near future.