Getting Back to Business – Emerging From the Shadows of Coronavirus
We appear to be at the end of the beginning and the majority of businesses I’m working with and speaking with this past week are all feeling that the period of ‘crisis management’ is now pretty much dealt with and that damage has been minimised.
There is no doubt that many businesses and business owners are restless and there is a common desire and, in most cases, a dire need to get back to business. However, as business owners we now have a stark choice:
- Go back to business and try to get back to where we were pre CV-19 and just carry on as before… and very much ‘we’ve survived and now we need to revive’.
- Seize the moment to reflect and bounce back with an evolved approach and business that is improved and will add more value than before… and very much a ‘survive, revive and thrive’ approach.
I might be showing my age here, but it really reminded me of the Six Million Dollar Man; they rebuilt him not as before but ‘better, stronger, faster’… and that’s where we can turn this difficult situation and these challenging times into a MASSIVE OPPORTUNITY.
We need to get back to business, so the question is how?
The only place to start is to look at the ‘Organisational Purpose’ and reason(s) WHY we are in business, what do we want to do, for who, where do we want to be in three years’ time and what does success look like in 12/24/36 months’ time.
Once we’ve gone over the rest of the stages and have real clarity then we really need to sanity check everything by financially modelling it all over the three years, to make sure we are:
- Going to make the money we need to (P&L budgeting)
- Not going to run out of cash along the way (cash-flow forecasting)
- Build value into the business and build a war chest (balance sheet projection)…
as we all know how important those can be, especially if we don’t have one in times of crisis!
Let’s look at ourselves and let’s look out of the window. Be honest about what makes us great and build on it, understand where we need to improve, see the threats and challenges at our door or on the Horizon… and not forgetting the exciting part of looking at the extent of opportunity that’s open to us and agreeing how to prioritise and maximise those. Using a simple SWOT approach is one most people easily relate to.
Looking inwardly at ourselves is great, but the flip side of the external environment and how it’s affecting us now and in the future is a critical step to assessing the current position of our business. Using another well utilised model, PESTLE, will ensure that we are considering all likely areas of change for opportunity and threat so we can mitigate and influence and others we can’t, but the important thing is our awareness.
Both these exercises will throw up risks and challenges and I would always suggest making sure there’s something dealing with those on an ongoing basis; a simple risk register will usually suffice.
Strong businesses always look at improving and enhancing what they do; they always look at exploiting opportunity to upgrade existing offerings, position new offerings into their markets and also think about how they can take what they already do into a new sector and/or market place. A lovely simple tool for this is an ANSOFF matrix, which will also help you avoid the highly risky approach of pure diversification.
For many businesses, at times like this, the opportunity to look at customer types and the mix we have is here. Not traditionally used in this way, a BOSTON matrix works well to help categorise and group customers and gives us sight of the blend of clients we have and invariably flag any imbalance. Thinking along the lines of who are our stars, which are our cash cows, flagging the dogs that we need to transition away from and them prompt us to better understand the ones with questions hanging over them. It should also stimulate us to think about what is it we need to fill the gaps and bring back balance and, therefore, help in targeting the right prospects for us.
So sanity checking Vision, getting Mission right and building the culture around clear values are necessary. Understanding what the business critical success factors are and core goals (targets) should come next, followed by building a three year strategy, supported by rolling 30/60/90 tactics/targets and daily/weekly/monthly activity/action plans.
To maximise the opportunity, and to ensure that we have a business that is super resilient and super agile, let's make sure that we optimise everything going forward. When times are good for a long period, businesses can sometimes have a tendency to get a little flabby and, dare I say, a little lazy because it’s a little easy. Let’s not be happy with just being good, let’s strive to be great and excellent. If we optimise then we grow a positive continuous improvement culture; one where everyone is engaged and wanting to ‘do it better every day’.
All staff need to be involved and engaged, as if everyone ‘gets it’ then that brings a team ethos and with it an opportunity to develop a winning team mentality and drive a progressive culture.
Many businesses, especially SMEs, don’t do anywhere near enough with the management information and business information they have in their businesses. We work in an era of data capture, but many don’t harness the power of data. It’s time to change and get MI/BI driving the business decision making.
There are many offerings out there that will allow us to grab and present data in a way that we can turn it to our advantage, but even the humble (FREE) excel spread sheet with conditional formatting can be a hugely powerful tool. So let’s use what we have to help us optimise.
The elephant in the room right now is definitely technology. Even the most reluctant businesses have now had no choice to adopt technology, to quickly get used to flexible and remote working, to use technology to engage new talent in the hiring process, to hold meetings without people travelling and so on. So let’s use this moment to see what we have and what we don’t, what can be brought in to make the user experience (UX) better.
The biggy for many is use of video technology; there are many platforms out there but find one that will work to enhance UX for clients, candidates and agency perspective. Video tech that will improve process works in harmony with other existing tech we have and operates in line with the complexities of the compliance requirements around recruitment. Another area is around process management and collaboration. Shared secure cloud based working environments that make remote working and distance working simple and easy.
It’s well heard and, I feel that over the last five years, has become more and more accepted in the business mainstream that culture eats strategy for breakfast.
We have truly moved beyond the boomers and Gen X, and the expectations of the Y, Z and A is so removed from the old guard. Culture is truly king and understanding yours, developing yours, having one that works, which includes, empowers and encourages everyone to improve, is powerful.
But as before let's not just focus inside, let’s look at both internal and external stakeholders. If we work in collaboration with all our customers and clients, both internal and external, find out what they really want, what they like, what they hate, what would delight them to make them real advocates of us… then it’s a win-win scenario. So, one final tool I just have to position (I use extensively and it's amazing when used correctly and acted on) is NPS (Net Promoter Score).
If you don’t use it properly then start to; if you don’t use it then use it… but try and take it beyond just a ‘trust pilot’ type exercise… that should only be the starting point. Use it to drive and shape the proposition and build on culture.
When The Winds Of Change Blow, Some People Build Walls, Others Build Windmills – Chinese Proverb. ... But when you are in resistance (by building walls), your focus shifts towards the negative and, hence, you miss out on harnessing the positive energy of life.
If you think you need some help to make it happen or just want to talk through anything in this article, then feel free to book a FREE Consultation in my diary for a 90 minute ZOOM with me.
Milestones are here to support so don’t hesitate to reach out for a virtual coffee anytime, and maybe even a socially distanced coffee at your office or mine sometime soon.