Managing anxiety in times of uncertainty and decreasing revenue

Take stock of what is certain

On Saturday 14th March, after a week of ticket sales dropping, and an unprecedented amount of customer support around event cancellations, the potential impact of this pandemic on our business became apparent. Unable to sleep, or enjoy the weekend, I worked through the numbers to see where can we start to cut costs. And, more importantly, how long we could survive as a business.

Full transparency with the team

Although we don’t operate with radical transparency, we are generally pretty open about financials internally at Ticket Tailor. Having done the calculations over the weekend, and knowing that all salaries are going to be paid, I presented the details with the team first thing on Monday. I explained the following:

  • what I estimated the worst-case scenario to be,
  • what we had in the bank,
  • where we could cut costs should we need to, and most importantly,
  • that everyone’s job was safe.

Positive focus

Knowing that we can survive for a year meant that we could turn our immediate attention back to what it is we are supposed to be doing: supporting event organisers who are seeing first-hand the catastrophic effects of C19 with ticket sales falling off a cliff, and events being cancelled or postponed en masse. We jumped in to a number of projects to offer immediate support to our clients, including:

Calm week

Our transition to working from home went really well, thanks to the support of Emily, our head of ops, who previously worked at a fully remote company. However, during that same week it felt like everything was falling apart, with the news filled with stories of panic buying, advice to visit elderly relatives, and rumours of lockdown around the corner. We were all feeling unsettled and decided we would have a calm week. This simply meant that we only commit to being at work for the first half of the day, and use the afternoons for whatever we needed.

Get perspective

What is the really really really worst-case scenario? The absolute, absolute, worst-case scenario for Ticket Tailor is that events never come back as we know it, we don’t adapt fast enough, we run out of money, and we have no business any more. That’s bad but worse things have happened, and just acknowledging this puts my anxiety in to perspective and makes me feel more relaxed. And a lot more needs to go wrong before that‘s a reality.

Managing financial anxiety

We have a budget spreadsheet, which details:

  • money we’ve spent,
  • money we’ve made,
  • what we have to spend in the coming months (already committed / essential)
  • what we could spend in the coming months, and
  • what we forecast we will make, and
  • how much we have in the bank.

Planning in uncertainty

George, our head of growth, said the other day that this situation is like living through an MBA exam question. We have just come out of our Q2 planning and with so much uncertainty, and our largest ever team size it is so important that we are aligned. The planning went remarkably well (in my opinion) and I have written up everything we did here.

Staying informed

With so much unknown we have taken a number of steps to keep ourselves informed as efficiently as possible:

  • Created an internal daily dashboard specifically for C19, showing ticket sales, event creations, sign ups, and online event activity vs normal events.
  • Surveyed users to ask what they think will happen, what their plans are, and how we can support them. (We usually offer a chance to win a voucher as an incentive to fill out the survey. This time we are donating £1 for every response to MSF, and the uptake has been huge — more than 10% of people we contacted have filled out the survey.)
  • Created a Slack channel to share relevant news stories for our industry.
Our C19 Slack channel

Feel the positives

There are lots of positives right now, and I find it’s important to amplify them for my own sanity and for the team. Here are some of them:

Our online scavenger hunt

Give everyone a break

My last thought is a reminder to give everyone a break. No one is having an easy time. Economic uncertainty, harder living conditions, and constant video calls are just some of the bad things to come out of this new reality that everyone is facing. Behind every business is a bunch of people trying to make the best of a bad time. Let’s hope it’s temporary, show patience and compassion, and most importantly, stay healthy.

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