For months now there has been a sense of gloom sat above us all and impacting everyone’s day to day lives not only here in the UK but across the world. The media is awash with everything negative associated with COVID-19 and I certainly do not want to add to this.
In recent weeks there has been the start of an easing of lock-down and naturally we all hope this continues and we can get back to some form of normality in our personal and business lives.
The whole COVID-19 situation is devastating and for those who know close people who have died (as I do) or are suffering from it then it is heartbreaking to all those concerned. However, as entrepreneurs, professionals and advisers we have to find a way through this situation to save, protect and then grow our businesses.
This may sound a bit like a song but ‘…….there may be trouble ahead….’ and there is no doubt there will be more uncertainty facing us and more change to come, but entrepreneurs need to look forward and become more agile. There may be business models that need changing and some business models may not even work again post COVID, but that review and analysis need to be followed by actions and decisions.
Up until now everything has been about saving and protecting a business. Now it needs to move to a new phase. I recently heard the phrase ‘After Quarantine Life’ or AQL and I think this is a good time to be trying to look more forward than back now.
I’ve broken this down into 7 sections and set out comments and ideas to spark thoughts in each area. The order of the headings may be different for each business but I make no apology for putting Financials as the first one because if one thing has emerged as all important, it is that ‘Cash Is King’. It always has been to be fair but sometimes people only realise it when there is no cash!
1 – Financial Planning
- Cash is King – never a more important time to have cash in the business.
- Look at all the government support available – take advantage of any support available to support your business through this time.
- Cashflow Forecasts – you must manage and forecast cash as a minimum.
- Review everything line by line – review every line of income, debtors, costs, creditors, supply chain and more to make sure you are on top of the financials.
- Measure and Track – measure and track the key drivers and indicators in the business – these indicators may now be different to those you tracked before.
- Borrow money for growth and investment – borrowing money for growth and investment purposes is a good use of debt.
- Is now a good time to acquire? – Could be some great opportunities to expand.
2 – Business Model
- Business Models need to match the new normal – Time to review the business model – how does it fit going forward. Is it time to adapt it?
- Now is the time to be agile – many businesses have changed their business models in weeks that would normally have taken months.
3 – Team/Staff
- Staffing structure and numbers need to be reviewed alongside current and future plans – this could be as much about increasing numbers as it could be about decreasing them.
- Attitude is everything – make sure you have the right team around you.
- How are you communicating with your staff especially if working from home.
- Need to consider the mental health of your staff.
4 – Products & Services
- Look at your products and services – are they fit for purpose?
- Can you offer new products and services?
- Can you deliver your services in the same way as before or does it need to change – link this back to the business model.
- Do you need to pivot?
5 – Customers
- How are you communicating with your customers (past/present/future)
- Customers will remember how businesses dealt with and interacted with them during this COVID period – good and bad!
- How are you marketing – are you using the same or new methods. Are you trying new ways to reach your customers.
6 – Operations
- Look at the whole operation of the business – is it fit for purpose?
- Look at your premises/machinery/equipment.
- How does social distancing/masks impact the ways of working?
- Review the structure and overheads of the business.
7 – Technology
- Have a robust technology ecosystem – you need online access to the key aspects of the business. This can be easier said than done in some businesses but use technology to its best advantage.
- Have a digital link to customers – how can you use technology to link with your customers?
Ultimately, change always brings with it opportunity, and hopefully these points will spark some thoughts and debate on moving forward.
Every business needs a strategy around all these areas as they all interconnect with each other. We are in times where businesses are having to change at lightning speed and have changed their working practices and business models and staff working from home within days and weeks, something that under normal circumstances would have taken months and years. Time to be brave but you do need a plan!
We at Snowball have always offered advisory services to help businesses on both a strategic and an action level. More detailed information on these services will follow later in the month when we formally launch our Advisory Services business.