One hell of a mountain!

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By Damian Walters, BiKBBI Chief Executive:

Batten down the hatches, close the curtains and shut off from the world. Put your life on hold, brace yourself and hope for the best. Close your eyes and be angry about the hand that’s been dealt.

You could take that approach, or you could look at this situation differently.

This global situation is without doubt the most significant post world war event that we’ve all faced, with disruption to lives, businesses and plans.

For some, the impact is greater than most, as many people reading this will have lost loved ones, or know someone who has. For them particularly, I send my sincerest of condolences.

However you have been affected, you’ll be forgiven for perhaps viewing this challenge as overwhelming or even impossible. On a bad day I’m sure we’ve all wondered whether life will ever be the same again and whether this situation will ever end.

The reality is, none of us actually know how this will pan out, what will happen or when.

So, let’s not focus on things we cannot control, other than to influence it as best as we possibly can – personally, this is about mindset and planning.

Life for me is about attacking things in bite sized chunks – breaking down challenges in manageable and realistic portions. The smaller the portion, the more likelihood of success.

It’s no secret that that I’ve undertaken a few personal charitable challenges over the years, but none tougher than climbing Mount Everest in both 2010 and 2016. This was a challenge that was full of unknowns, especially to a guy (me) that had never climbed a hill, let alone a mountain – let alone THE mountain.

As focused as I was to reach the summit, my plan didn’t include it until 24-hours before the attempt – which may be viewed as staggering, considering the plan was 2 years in the making!

Everest: Fitness

The challenge wasn’t summiting for me. The personal challenge started 2 years before that. Going from a lazy, 22-stone couch potato (pitcured), to a 12-stone athlete capable of the physical demands that Everest presents m(also pictured).

Everest: Experience

The second challenge was experience. To obtain the necessary experience needed to even qualify for a place on the hill. Training in Scottish & Welsh mountains, then over the Alps helped me to begin to understand what was ahead.

Everest: Team

You can’t face Everest alone. It’s not something that you should even consider climbing by yourself. You need to surround yourself with people who add value. The best expedition leaders and Sherpa’s – those who know the landscape better than anyone. The better the team, the greater chance of success (and in Everest’s case, survival.)

Strength in numbers is one thing. Strength in experienced numbers is an entirely different thing… but experience costs money and that sometimes is a deterrent.

But on Everest, only the foolish cut costs – because the ultimate cost is your life if you make poor choices.

Everest: Equipment

As you can imagine, equipment plays a key role in any success – especially on Everest. Having the right clothing and technical equipment almost definitely plays a part in success. But not only success… actually having the right equipment affects your experience – whether you succeed or not, doing it with minimum discomfort must also be on the forefront of your mind.

Again, good gear, comes at a price (but so does cheap gear too)!

Everest: Planning

Unlike a marathon, Everest doesn’t have a single route to the finish line. In fact, the finish line for Everest isn’t at the summit – because the summit is only the half-way point.

Planning your ascent (and decent) of the world’s tallest mountain is about acclimation, it’s about route choice, it’s about weather. It’s about timing. It’s about meticulous strategic planning. Two steps up, one step down… not advancing from bottom to top, because on Everest, that would lead to certain death.

You need to be prepared to take a step backward when necessary – not easy when the steps forward are so tough, physically… but that’s where mental strength is required.

Everest: Commitment

That mountain demands commitment. Anything less than full commitment often ends in tragedy.

You need to know what you want, why you’re doing it, who you’re doing it for and what you want to eventually get out of it.

If it’s that photo at the top, many will be disappointed (including me). But if it’s that experience – that unrivalled lifetime experience that you could never ever replicate elsewhere on Earth – that sense of pushing yourself to the absolute limit of your capabilities and emerging triumphant – then Everest offers something else unachievable elsewhere.

So, what the hell has all this got to do with COVID-19 and the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom industry?

We all face a metaphorical mountain in this virus, and that’s not too dissimilar to a climber facing a big hill.

Instead of Everest and personal challenges, let’s think business now…


Shed the excess weight, streamline your process and your costs. Negotiate with the mortgage lender for some financial breathing space and lighten the load of financial burden. But don’t use this as an excuse to simply cut costs.

If you want to hit the ground running on our return (and we will return), you need to make sure you’re ready.

BUSINESS: Experience

You are not alone, so don’t try and face this alone.

Lean on those around you to help guide you through this situation, whether that’s your bank, your accountant, your PR agency or your trade association.

BiKBBI is here to help you, not only to manage today, but to be there on your return. We’re as much about your future as we are about your today and we can help on both counts.

Additionally, can you gain some personal experience? Maybe look at expanding your experience and knowledge via Campus?


Physical distancing = YES!

Business distancing = NO!

Don’t hide away. Now is the time to engage. New business opportunities, existing industry contacts, current relationships. All of which can be reviewed and renewed! Now is the time to plan what the future delivers… Use tech to connect. Social Media, emails, video calls – use them all, but for goodness sake, don’t hide.

Use this time wisely… consider all avenues for business and make sure you’re surrounded by those who add value to your business future, not weight.

BUSINESS: Equipment

Are you wearing state of the art technical clothing fit for 2020, or something Edmund Hillary wore in 1953?

Ok, so Edmund Hillary got to the top, but I bet the experience was awful, because the kit wasn’t as advanced as it is today.

Think about your ability to market. Have you the right branding, website, social media presence, uniforms… Is your business as strong as it can be?

Now’s not the time to cut – now’s the time to invest where you can.

BUSINESS: Planning

What is it exactly you want from life and how on Earth will you get there?

Many small businesses fail to grow, because there’s no time for strategy when operational demands dictate the priorities.

Well, now you have some head space, start thinking about your plan (remember… bite sized chunks!)

Who will be your strategic alliances in 2020/21, what contracts do you want to win – what do you want to ditch? How will you get from the ‘here and now’ to the end game… Don’t focus on crossing the finish line just yet, think about the route and your reediness for return.

BUSINESS: Commitment

Why do you get up in the morning.

Why do you do what you do?

What makes you tick and motivated to go to work day-after-day.

Is it happiness? Success? Money? Family? Self-worth? What is it?

If you can work that out, it will help you prepare for the challenge ahead… do not lose sight of what’s impoirtant to you as this will motivate you, even in times of adversity.

So, in conclusion, whilst a bloody long blog (apologies), you’ll see that this mountain can be conquered. We will get through this. We will be alright… But for goodness sake, don’t batten down the hatches. Use this time to rest, recuperate and plan for bigger, better and more successful times ahead.

Stay safe and tell the people who matter how much you love them and don’t leave that for tomorrow.

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