Angela has once again been penning her thoughts for local business group FEO, here’s what she’s had to say:
Following the update from the government recently and the significant lifting of lockdown rules – to say we may be looking at ‘going back to normal’ feels to me a step too far – however ‘back to life’ and ‘back to reality’ may be a whole lot more fitting!
Whatever the phrase, we are reaching a point that whilst we realise we may not be operating normally, for those businesses that have been fortunate enough to survive this most challenging of times, we have to face reality, we have to analyse our current ‘business state’ and we need to act now like we have never acted before!
You can be forgiven for having times throughout this crisis when it has been a time for reflection and to try to come up with answers to never ending questions without having any real understanding of what the future world (outside your influence) holds for your business. Now, however we are hopefully through the worst and we can now draw on our reflections and the outcomes, and it is now the time to get things done! Of course, there is a threat of further disruption, but we cannot afford to focus on that, we need to look at what we can influence and how we can go about it.
I have no doubt that you will have considered the position of your teams, their strengths, their weaknesses and crucially how they can add value to your company moving forward in this uncertain time. What conclusions have you come to? There will never be a more accepting time to make change in your businesses, so please see this as an opportunity.
You will have surely analysed every aspect of the financial side of your organisation, perhaps with slightly less emphasis on the profit margin and more on cash flow, and how you could survive. Now that you have survived, and I am sure not without some pain, you may need to revisit your future financial planning. Be aware that whilst things should improve, it may be a slow process and something you don’t have control over. Understand what your breakeven point now is as a start, and then budget to exceed that, whist being realistic.
Have you felt pressure regarding whether it is appropriate to market your business during lockdown? If you have marketed, has it been sensitive to the never ending complexities of this pandemic and indeed has there been a market for you to market to? Now we are in a time where the majority are back at work and will be back in their roles (either from home or office) where they do have a job to do which often requires a supply chain, which many of us will form part of.
Ask yourself questions such as
- How many of my customers are still operating, and if they are operating to what degree?
- Have my customers had to make significant changes to their organisations to adapt to this ever changing climate?
I think it would be safe to say that most of us do not know the answers to these questions, certainly not in relation to our clients. Whilst you may well have stayed in contact with them, to keep that relationship going, do you have a full understanding of where they are at now? Can you offer them some support, can you identify any opportunities for your business? I suppose market research is the answer, to know your customers is one thing but to know them following a worldwide pandemic is quite another!
Whilst sensitivity has. in my view. been imperative, this time has now passed, people need some ‘reality’, they need to think in some instances outside of COVID-19, they need to have more positive and optimistic outlooks, maybe ‘normality’, in terms of the business’s marketing activity. We have all done our bit to control the virus, with instruction, now it is time to control our businesses futures, identify any opportunities or problems that need solving and solve them!
I speak for me when I say this, but having been running our business for fifteen years, and having experienced some challenging times along the way, nothing comes close to the difficulties faced in this last three months. However, we have survived, not without a few scars but we have, with the help and support of many but now we will be looking forward and realise the opportunities and acting upon them to build a stable future for our company.
With the correct mindset I am confident that with hard work, determination and a sound understanding of your markets, businesses can prosper when getting back to life and getting back to reality.