March. The month it all changed. One of the longest and most intense times of my life. Of most people’s lives. Is there even that much point talking about it? Can I even remember what life was like at the beginning of March?
Well, I’ll do be best, and luckily I have been blogging quite a lot throughout the month so we can at least see where my mind was at. Just a month ago I was telling you how prepared I was for the virus and how I wasn’t changing too much but focusing on my latest passion project, making video games.
Well, that has all changed. And about a week into March I completely stopped the video game work and shifted gears to working as hard as possible to try and survive and thrive the coronavirus.
I started off by doing a lot of planning which I outline in great detail in my Survive and Thrive the Coronavirus series of blogs. Click on each link to read the full post:
And also covered it on my podcast The Lazy Entrepreneur.
I’m not going to rehash everything again. But very quickly I split down my actions into reducing risk, earning more money, and finding good investments.
After the planning phase, I spent a lot of the rest of the month ‘working’ through my ideas.
To reduce risk in March I…
- Cancelled all future travel plans and moved into an Airbnb in London where we can stay indefinitely if needed.
- Started withdrawing all my money from P2P lending (read why). As of 1st April, I was about 50% out.
- Built a cash reserve of 1 year of expenses.
- Did an audit of all my businesses to see where we had risk and where we could save money.
- Placed everyone else working on my businesses (including business partners) on furlough at full pay. Their salary will be 80% covered by the government under the coronavirus job retention scheme.
- Set my main business to run on autopilot until at least end of April.
Suggested Post: Digital Nomads Are In The Best Position To Weather The Pandemic
To earn some quick money in March I…
- Rewrote a few of my higher earning articles to make them more relevant to the current time. Such as this one on making money from casino bonuses.
- Started a paid advertising campaign for my higher earning posts.
- Started applying to advertising networks for this site.
- Reached out to 30+ potential sponsors for my podcast.
- Started an audit of this site looking for products to talk about but aren’t currently affiliated with.
- Set up some alternative sales and fulfilment options for my businesses that rely on Amazon FBA. Amazon has been swamped and in many countries is much slower at delivering.
To earn some longer-term money in March I…
- Redid a few pages on this blog to make them better. Including the front page and my business portfolio page. This should improve user experience and increase my SEO.
- Created a bunch of new posts (seven articles in March alone!) and new podcast episodes (three!) to help restart this blog. It has been slowly dying since 2017 due to neglect.
- Started a spreadsheet of every person I have ever done business with and would like to do business with again. I am slowly getting back in touch with them.
- And even though I am only about 5% through that rolodex it is already the best idea so far and I am already working on some new projects with them.
Some opportunities I invested in March were…
- I have lined up my mortgage options and am currently in negotiations over a property.
- I have been slowly buying back into the stock market in case everything suddenly goes back to normal.
- I have bought some bitcoin as an outside bet.
So I am getting through my planning list. But still have a lot to do! April is going to be another very busy month.
Now let’s talk a little about my businesses:
How Are My Businesses Getting On?
I co-founded and run Pipehouse Gin. This is not a good time to be an alcohol producer. Most of our sales are wholesale to other businesses, and almost all of those businesses are currently closed.
And to make matters worse, most of our customers are on 30-day payment terms. Will they ever be able to pay? New Look (who don’t sell alcohol but is just an example) have declared they won’t pay any of their suppliers. And they have an online store and a huge brand. Imagine how much worse bars and restaurants are currently hurting? And the temptation they are feeling to just not pay their bills.
Having said that it could be worse.
Completely due to luck, our debtors are remarkably low – only about 25% of normal. And of those debtors, we expect most to be able to pay. It looks like there is only a few thousand pounds at risk. We also had a big expansion plan we were going to launch in March, but that got pushed back due to our un-organisedness. It’s very lucky it was! We also saw a big jump in online direct-to-customer sales giving us a profit in March.
April 2020 may be our first-ever losing month. But we won’t lose much and will be able to bounce back quickly if/when this is all over.
And there may also be some long-term opportunities. For instance:
- Now is a good time to build relationships and support our current customers.
- Some of our competitors will be forced to exit leaving less competition.
- We could acquire or partner with some smaller brands.
Suggested Post: Starting a Gin Brand Episode 1: Doing The Research
Table Tennis Businesses
I run two table tennis businesses where we make sports equipment and primarily sell through Amazon.
And March was actually a pretty good month for sales. Within a few percentage points of February and a big increase on March 2019.
How come? Well, there are two forces at play that seem to be balancing themselves out:
More people are shopping online VS Amazon are struggling and delivery times can be as long as a month.
I assume that will continue in April with sales slowly dropping. But only by 10-15%. If this is all over by the end of April we will be fine with barely any impact on the business.
But it probably won’t be. And there is one big looming issue: Stock.
- Amazon are not accepting new stock into their warehouses
- And even if we could get deliver stock to Amazon (or another warehousing option) – Air freight is astronomically expensive and is prioritising key virus-fighting goods.
We are OK for stock currently. In fact we are actually pretty good. If you are a regular reader of my monthly reports you will know we had a lot of stock problems early last year and have been stockpiling ever since. We now have a stockpile of 500% more than we did last year.
But we will run out eventually and there is the chance that the virus will continue for another 6 months or more. So we have started preparing for that: We have completely stopped any marketing, put everyone but me on furlough, and 99% automated the business.
Suggested Post: How to start an Amazon FBA business
Traffic took a really big hit in March and the first half was the worst I’ve had in five years. That is because my three most popular topics (Amazon FBA, Matched Betting, Gin) are suddenly not relevant anymore. Amazon isn’t taking new stock, all sports are off, and all bars are closed!
But in March I also really upped my work effort on the blog. I wrote seven blog posts, which I think is the most I’ve ever written in one month?
- Digital Nomads Are In The Best Position To Weather The Pandemic
- My Coronavirus Strategy: Part 3 – Invest
- My Coronavirus Strategy: Part 2 – Earn More Money
- My Coronavirus Strategy: Part 1 – Reduce Risk
- How To Support Local Businesses During The Quarantine
- 10 Business Ideas For The Apocalypse – What To Do While Quarantined
- My Monthly Report – February 2020
And rewrote or updated quite a few other posts and pages. The effort paid off and my traffic for March ended up being not too bad. Just a bit below the average for 2019.
The blog made £4,629 in March. Which is pretty good but as most of my payments are a month or two delayed it doesn’t really reflect the new reality. April and May income will be more telling.
So there you have it! What a month.
It has really made me realise how lucky I am. Everything about my life and businesses puts me in the top 1% of people going into this crisis. I have no debt or mortgage. My businesses are very lean. My lifestyle means I can go or stay anywhere. I’m young and healthy. I have savings. And I’m British and have access to the NHS.
So what am I doing to help?
Staying at home. Donating money to my key causes (homelessness and domestic violence). Spending more at local businesses. And learning TikTok dances to entertain my sister. Nothing heroic or unusual but hopefully having a small bit of positive impact.
If you’re interested in my giving strategies, check out this post. It’s from 2016 and not about the virus but still useful: How To Give To Charity Effectively And Efficiently