There’s no doubt about it – these have been trying and testing times for everyone who’s in business but data from the last financial crisis shows that it isn’t all doom and gloom and many businesses can emerge from a crisis stronger than ever.
So, although far from ideal, this is just the time to reflect on what really adds value in your business and whether there are things you could, and should, be doing differently. The decisions that you make today could totally change what the future holds.
Begin with a consideration of your own goals. What has lockdown taught you? Could it be that you should make sure you’re squirrelling away a certain amount of money for that rainy day? Are there parts of life now that you don’t want to lose sight of when things start moving again? Have you developed new digital skills? Perhaps you’ve cut down the time and cost involved in travelling, and this is something you want to continue with. You may have learned that expenses that you previously considered essential are suddenly surplus to requirement or alternatively, investments in professional support that you may have avoided now appear to be wise in establishing a more certain future.
Communication is key
What is the vision for your business? How do you want to communicate this to the people who need to know? As you bring your team back off furlough, how will you ensure they know what is expected of them? Given the uncertainty surrounding the future in general, and economic prospects in particular, it’s important to be clear when you’re setting expectations: Set targets and get your team involved and excited.
Open, transparent and appropriately pitched communication will be key in the months to come. Although you may not have all the answers (or a crystal ball), being upfront and motivated will give your team confidence in your ability to navigate the unknown.
Learn to love data
Look at what you can be doing to make things easier for yourself and those around you. What can technology now make possible that seemed impossible back in February? Would it be more viable to outsource mundane tasks that are important but which don’t make good use of your time? Take an interest in your data – learn from it and use it to make better decisions and steer your business towards greater certainty, knowing what it is that’s in your gift to control.
Take advantage of the help that’s on offer
It seems possible that coronavirus could be just the first in a series of business interruption events. Future proofing your business is therefore essential. Lockdown may just be starting to ease but it seems likely that the economic situation will worsen before it improves. So, even if you don’t need the cash offered by the bounce back loan scheme right now, it’s worth putting it in your pocket for the next twelve months. It costs nothing for the first year and you can hand it back at no cost at any time up to the first anniversary of draw down. Whatever you use it for though, don’t just resort to plugging a leaking bucket. You could use the bounce back funds to pay off an overdraft or do a loan swap, taking advantage of the scheme’s cheaper rates. Revamping your website to reflect any change of emphasis in your business offering may be another good idea. Investment in productive business assets or staff training is always a sound area to focus on.
Plan for a “with coronavirus” future
Some businesses are doing very well at the moment while others are suffering. Think very hard about what areas of your business can be made to work well for you in the “with coronavirus” future that seems likely. Ask yourself what areas work for you, and which you’d be better off trimming back on. Could your business be made more local, or does it in fact, need to expand further afield?
Find your allies
Who could help you right now and through the coming months? Is it your accountant? Do you need a better understanding of your figures? Or would a business coach be that support you need so that you can best lead your people?
Now is not the time to be putting promotion and communication on the back burner – go where your customers are and shout about your business. In the same way, nurture the networks you’ve built up in your industry and community – share your expertise, stand up and be heard, and be open to advice and learning.
Clear your mind
Whilst overwhelm and panic may make a frequent appearance, followed by cloud and indecision, it’s important that you stay calm and in the main, are controlled and lead with a clear state of mind. If you don’t already, think about learning mindfulness techniques, make sure you are in your own tip top health and get plenty of fresh air.
Grounds for optimism
There is no better time to re-shape – creditors, suppliers and employees understand the difficulties business owners are facing and, with open communication on your part, will be prepared to be understanding of the challenges you face.
So if this strikes a chord with you and your planning your strategy for the future, do get in touch and ask us about taking part in one of our strategic business development sessions.