The impact of COVID-19 is being felt by businesses all over the world. Unexpected changes to consumer behaviour are enough to challenge any business, but when you combine this with endless months of uncertainty, it’s difficult not to have concerns.
Naturally, this sort of sudden shake-up has caused all sorts of last minute changes to business strategies and plans, both short terms and long term, as business owners everywhere insure themselves against various possible outcomes. The key here is quite clearly adaptability – and your willingness to change your way of doing things, without too much advance notice.
Entrepreneurs and company owners stand with the rest of the world when it comes to not really knowing what the future holds. Economically, the UK is facing as much as a 35% slump as a direct result of lockdown measures, with many other knock-on effects expected to take hold in the weeks and months that follow.
So what’s the best way to manage your business plans when the future is still unclear? How do we keep a level of profit and even grow when all around us is uncertain? Thankfully there are ways and means, and much of it boils down to adaptability. Let’s take a look at some recommended ways to cope with the crisis.
Manage your cash flow
Time to exercise the cliches – but when we say “every little helps”, it really does in this case. Look hard at your expenditure and cut down on unnecessary purchases. You might find that they need tiny and insignificant, but once you’ve added up a number of them, and you multiply the cost over the space of a month or even a year you might find the changes are bigger than you think. Small savings which turn into big savings and really affect your cash flow over time – so keep this in mind when working out what money is going where.
Also, it very much depends on the type of business you are running, but be careful of new clients who don’t have good payment histories or don’t have one at all. A crisis is not the best time for affording mistakes, so be extra vigilant with who you take on.
Maximise your resources
Surviving uncertain times comes down to maximising what you do have, rather than focusing on what you don’t. It may well be the case that the plans and strategies you had for 2020 have gone quite rightly out of the window, as you rise to the challenge of unprecedented times.
Use your marketing tools and marketing staff as much as you can, as you might find your audience has more free time than usual for reading things online. If you have any ideas up your sleeve that you were saving for a rainy day, this might be it. Sit down with your employees and work out the best way of utilising them during this time. Just some simple conversations can lead to making new plans you hadn’t previously thought of.
Benefit from a remote workforce
Lockdown has most certainly meant remote working for the vast majority of us. But instead of worrying about your employees’ time management and adaptability, just let it all be. You might find that some personality types actually work better from the comfort of their living rooms, while others may not. The point is that this is out of your control, so the best way to keep business ticking over well is to decide you trust them, and let everyone get on with their jobs in hand.
This might even be the time to invest in a little outsourcing for jobs that have needed attention for a while. A small investment like this can result in a big return over time. Let lockdown be the time you put the extra work in, and let it bear fruit slowly as we all drift eventually back into normal life and normal business.
Staff still working? Appreciate them
If you still have staff working for you in a physical capacity, remember that they are going against the grain. Construction workers are a perfect example of those who are not able to work from home, so are essentially forced into normal day to day work. As an employer, it pays to let them know they are highly appreciated – after all, it’s not just NHS staff who deserve a round of applause for going out and risking their health during all of this. A little thanks goes a long way to long-term staff happiness, their likelihood to do a good job, and ultimately the likelihood of your business getting through these tough times.
Perhaps you’re in an industry which can afford to scale down its operations on an almost ‘skeleton crew’ basis. Industries like automotive, industrial, and aerospace have adopted similar strategies in the face of COVID-19. North West business AGM Services, for example, have been able to take advantage of the government’s furlough scheme and retain a few key staff who can drive sales and ensure that breakdown staff are still on the road. Once things return to whichever kind of ‘new normal’ there is, businesses across the country will welcome furloughed staff with open arms.