With the COVID-19 lockdown regulations easing, business owners are preparing to return to something like normality over the coming weeks.
Most agree that we are now in a significantly different working environment from the one we knew before the pandemic took a stranglehold on our daily lives. Business survival going forward, will require meticulous planning which should extend far beyond simply shouting “we’re open for business”.
While you may have kept things moving by using one or more of the government schemes, such as the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme (furlough), Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and business rate holiday, your thoughts may now be focusing on how to take back control and give fresh impetus to aid your firm’s immediate and long-term future.
The last few months will have taught you much about yourself, your business and staff. Now is the time to reflect on what you have learned from the disruption as this will help in facilitating the processes needed to help lead you through recovery. This should involve reviewing your business plans, understanding how you might have to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and managing the re-entry into the workplace for your employees, to ensure that you are providing the safest working environment.
Moving forward to success
Businesses of all sizes, from the recent start-up to multi-national corporations have had to respond quickly to protect their business, employees and customers. Taking the experiences of the last couple of months, it is important to look at your firm and consider the changes you need to respond to the altered marketplaces you find yourself operating in.
Matt Dunham of Dunham Dean Advisory and former council member of R3, believes that firms should not be afraid to adapt their strategic model to flourish within the ‘new’ environment1
It’s important to be open-minded and pragmatic in approaching the changes you face in emerging from the lockdown. “The winners will be those who come out thinking ‘how can I make the most of these challenges for my customers, staff and the business’ while you risk being left behind by thinking ‘Let’s get back to doing what we did before’,” reasons Matt Dunham.
He recommends asking key questions such as:
- What does your product or service do for your customers?
- What’s changed about the way customers purchase from you?
- How did you adapt during lockdown and what stands out?
- Did you develop an online model and can that continue to work?
- Has the relationship with existing customers become closer as you continued to meet their needs?
- Were new customers attracted and what do you need to do to keep them?
- Did you find certain skills were lacking within the team?
- Is there a need for some staff training?
Use these questions as a base to revisit your business plan. The answers will help to create the vision and ambition for change, while showing what is achievable with the resources to generate your cashflow, sales forecasts and project profitability to set out the way ahead.
Having done this, review the plan, and review again, to decide if it works. Do not be afraid to tweak until you feel it works. Then once you are operational, constantly monitor the results against the plan, so you know what is working or where you need to make changes.
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