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I thought it would be interesting to consider what you can learn from the pandemic for your business. We have been and are still going through an unprecedented, difficult and challenging time and businesses have been impacted in many ways. What are you doing differently as a result of this challenging period and what are you considering changing in your business going forward?
I have summarised below some key areas that you may want to do differently or consider in your business:
Be aware of the wider business environment. It is no longer advisable to just focus on your marketplace and customers, the pandemic has shown that events in other parts of the economy, the country and the world, as well as government decisions, can have a big impact on the performance of your business. It is therefore important going forward to monitor and be aware of what is happening in the wider environment.
Understand your marketplace. Do you know what is happening in the marketplace your business operates in? What are the key trends and changes? What are your competitors doing? The marketplace your business operates in is likely to have changed significantly during the pandemic so understanding the marketplace your business operates in is even more critical going forward.
Understand what your customers want. What do your existing and potential customers want? How have their requirements changed during the pandemic? The pandemic has shown how quickly customer preferences and needs can change. Understanding what your existing and potential customers want through feedback, monitoring what they are doing and listening to them are key to taking your business forward.
Review and develop your product and service range. There have been many changes, during the pandemic, in terms of customer, market and overall trends. Do you need to introduce new products and services or vary existing products and services going forward? Review your products and services and understand where you may need to make changes.
Maximise productivity and efficiency. Is your business efficient and effective? Are you maximising productivity? How are you maximising productivity and efficiency where your staff are working from home? The pandemic has highlighted that to make your business resilient to change it needs to be as efficient and effective as possible.
Be adaptable and flexible. The pandemic has shown us that changes can happen extremely quickly. Businesses today need to be as adaptable and flexible as possible. How quickly can your company change? How flexible are your processes and procedures? How adaptable are you and your staff?
Know what is happening in all areas of your business. Do you know what is happening throughout your business? What is your current financial position? What are your forward sales? What is bothering your staff? Knowing what is happening in all areas of your business going forward will enable you to react quickly, make better decisions and achieve your business goals.
Take care of your staff and yourself. The pandemic has been a very stressful and difficult time for everybody. How are you looking after your staff? How are you taking care of yourself? The pandemic has shown the importance of communication, collaboration, checking in and caring for each other, stress management and mental health. Consider what you are going to do differently going forward in this area and how you can best support your team in the future.
Take risks in proportion to your business. Taking risks is part of running a business but the pandemic has highlighted the importance of taking risks in proportion to your business. Maybe you are considering a move to bigger premises. Can your business absorb the additional costs even if sales come in below expectations? Consider each risk carefully and make sure it is in proportion to the business.
Build good relationships with all your key stakeholders. The foundation of your business is your relationships with your key stakeholders including your staff, customers, suppliers, investors and many more. The pandemic will have highlighted any areas of concern. How are your key stakeholder relationships? What improvements need to be made?
Have agreements in place for all your business relationships. During the pandemic a lot of business relationships have been put under pressure. Where agreements are in place you have some protection if things go wrong. Review your relationships and look for areas where you need to introduce or improve your agreements. This may be anything from staff contracts to supplier agreements.
Actively manage your cash flow. During the pandemic some businesses were very exposed due to a lack of cash reserves, high borrowings and outstanding debtors. Do you have payment terms in your customer contracts? Do you have a process for collecting your debts on time? Focus on actively managing your cash flow, reducing borrowings and building up your reserves going forward.
Update your contingency plan. Every business had to make changes quickly during the pandemic like moving all employees to home working or closing during lockdowns, but did you have a plan to follow? A contingency plan describes the steps a business needs to take in response to an unforeseen event or crisis that could happen in the future. It helps a business be prepared as to how they will respond and continue operating. Review your contingency plan or put one in place if you do not have one.
What lessons have you learned from the pandemic and what are you doing or going to do differently going forward? I hope this article has given you some areas to think about.
Author: Liz Makin
Published: November 2020
Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including communication, resilience, time management, stress management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.
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