Business for success in a COVID world

What you can and should be doing right now

2 Mar 2021

While Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia are still dealing with isolated outbreaks, it’s clear that both countries have the layering of systems needed to keep COVID-19 under control. That’s been good news for their economies overall. New Zealand surged out of recession with a 14% gain in GDP after an 11% contraction in the second quarter of 2020. Australia has bounced back too, with household spending up by 7.9% at the end of last year. With vaccine roll-outs in progress, it’s not too early to start thinking about planning for a post-COVID business environment. With the upheaval settling down, the question now is, “What happens next?”

Planning for the new normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses in wildly different ways. Entertainment, travel and hospitality have been decimated, while industries like grocery, home entertainment, home improvement and interestingly, art have seen bumper years. Others haven’t seen much shift at all. Whichever group your business falls into, there’s one thing you can rely on – it’ll all be different once the dust settles. Now’s the time to start considering what your business might look like in a month or a year, and put plans in place.

First, define your most important stakeholders – most likely a mix of customers, suppliers and employee groups. Then consider how their behaviour is likely to change post-pandemic. Will some things immediately go back to the way they were before (dining out, for example), will it take a while to get back and with some fundamental changes (like international travel), or has this created a permanent change? It’s all crystal-ball gazing at this point, but taking the time now to predict the outcomes could see you roaring out ahead of the pack.

Swap five-year plans for scenario planning

Things are going to change month to month, so staying agile is crucial. That means standard long-term plans are all but useless. Instead, create multiple possible scenarios, then dedicate resource to keep an eye on the market and create pathways that allow for fast responses to changes.

Get ready for the next big one

COVID-19 blind-sided many businesses, with some faring far better than others simply because they’d invested in essentials like streamlined workflows and digitisation. Here at Solutionists, most of the second quarter was spent fast-tracking digital systems, like click and collect, that had become must-haves over lockdowns. Similarly, those businesses who were still relying heavily on manual work had a harder time when business dried up, or were less able to cope with swelling workloads. With these experiences fresh in your mind, think back to March 2020 – what would have made your life easier? Establishing those systems now won’t just better prepare you for the next (inevitable) crisis, it will also make your business more streamlined and therefore more profitable now.

Start rebuilding operations, fast

If your business has significantly contracted over the last year, you have a choice to make – and you need to do it now. Stick with your new, smaller size or work to build back to your pre-2020 state. There’s no right answer here, but time does matter. You’ll need to hire staff, establish new supplier and distribution chains and reinvest in your sales and marketing, fast – now is the time when savvy businesses can make huge gains, scooping up opportunities and customers that slower competitors haven’t started working on.

Build back better

Some of the most beautiful cities in the world were built following a major natural disaster – an incredible silver lining. The same goes for your business. Were you weighed down by legacy relationships, processes, staff cultures and systems? This is your chance to start fresh. Leveraging lessons learned over the years, you can take some time now to plan for your ideal business. That might be a major change of focus, new brand, different product or service offering, staff shake-ups or any number of things.

Snap up opportunities

If you’ve weathered the COVID-19 storm well, you shouldn’t just rest on your laurels. The aftermath of a crisis like this is often when companies have the best opportunity to grow as their competitors struggle to rebuild. So, move quickly. Invest in the marketing, new infrastructure or people you need to capture huge swathes of the market.

Get busy, be ready

Looking for a way to face an uncertain future? Now is the time to make some changes to your business. At this point, anything is possible, so dump that five-year plan and get ready for multiple scenarios. Rebuild your operation or make the most of a smaller size, pivot towards new markets and suppliers and update those legacy systems. If your company came through the COVID crisis unscathed, now’s the time to surge forward and capture more of the market, while your competitors are still blinking in confusion.





date published:

2 Mar 2021