MOST people in business today will never have known anything like it. The crisis wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic has come upon us so quickly and with such devastating effect it is almost impossible to predict what may happen next.

It is clear to us as the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network that this is about the very survival of our businesses and the economy. We have been very clear that we need contribution towards employee wages, and income for those who are self-employed, in every sector of Scotland's economy. We asked for an immediate suspension of fixed business costs such as PAYE, VAT, NI contributions. Even more important than the measures themselves, is the ability for businesses to get access to grants and cash quickly directly into their accounts so we can pay our employees and our suppliers.

Why is this so important? If we can survive this, it will ensure our employees remain in their jobs. I cannot stress how essential it is to the fabric of, not just our economy, but our communities and fundamental wellbeing that our people’s talent is not just maintained, but that this time is used to retrain, reskill and change our business models, whilst looking for new opportunities.

We simply cannot afford for three or six months, or indeed even a month to wait. The economic atrophy that could set in if jobs are lost now may not be reversed.

This isn’t just a cry from the heart as we lock down for a little while. How we step in to support businesses now is how we fundamentally reshape how we do business in the future.

The most resilient businesses, the ones that will not just survive but thrive, are those that have tools at their disposal to prepare for when business returns. No matter how crazy the world seems right now, I can assure you it will return.

What businesses need to be able to do now is get the right level of support from Government and others, so they are ready for the bounce back.

To do this, business models will need to be adapted and indeed many are already doing this where they can. Right now focus is understandably on survival. However, change isn’t easy. It can be expensive and complicated. It requires regulators and policy makers to listen and respond – quickly.

An excellent example of this is the speed in which the UK and Scottish governments relaxed planning rules to allow restaurants to become takeaways. Let this be a model of how government reacts to the needs of both businesses and their customers as we weather the pandemic.

Hotlines that have been set up are being overwhelmed. Fact sheets online are pointing businesses to links that bring them around in circles. The Scottish Chamber network, made up of 30 chambers across Scotland, is doing our utmost to provide the latest information on grants, reliefs and loans that are available to our members and non-members alike.

We are reporting to government from the front lines of Scotland’s economy. Yes, the headlines are dominated when knee jerk reaction means people are left without support. But for every one of these stories, there are thousands more about employers and businesses across Scotland stepping up to support their employees, their families, their communities and even other businesses.

It is these everyday acts of sacrifice and kindness that make up some of the glimmers of what business can be and achieve once we come through this. Because by then we will – we hope – be ready for the bounce back.

Liz Cameron is the chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce