The UK economy shrunk by a record 19.8% in the second quarter of 2020, and GDP was still down 8.2% in September compared to February. This was the direct result of the Covid-19 virus and the closure of different industries. Unfortunately, small businesses and the self-employed have been hit the hardest, with 67% stating they had to stop trading at some point during the pandemic. A report by Simply Business revealed that the health crisis could cost SMEs up to £69 billion in total, while 48% of business owners believe it will take 12 months to recover the revenue lost.
Covid-19 has forced many businesses to change and adapt to the crisis — there’s been no other option. Perhaps this has been an eye-opening experience that has uncovered some faults within your own operations. As the world begins to reopen, it’s time to inject the lessons you learned into your business plan to improve it and build resilience for what comes next. Having a business plan for the post-Covid environment is essential to survive, so here we look at a few ways to reset your strategy.
- Retrain your staff
The work environment changed overnight for many businesses, and as we return to some level of normality, employees will be heading back to the offices. But after a year of working from home, business leaders need to ensure their team is properly equipped to come back. While workers may have been operating efficiently remotely, it never hurts to refresh their knowledge and skills by providing training. This includes your managers who have had to quickly adapt to leading a team virtually and may need a boost so they can lead well in person. Organising an online management course can ensure your team is prepared before everyone returns. For instance, management training providers MTD Training note that: “important attributes like the ability to communicate and make decisions are fundamental to effective management, and while they can be learned through experience, a management course can provide leaders-in-waiting with the framework to apply these skills in their own workplace”.
Meanwhile, retraining should be compulsory for staff who haven’t been working throughout the pandemic. For example, the hospitality industry has been closed for several months, so it’s easy for waiters to forget things like what’s on the menu and how their restaurant’s processes work, so a refresh is necessary to ensure they’re ready to serve customers again to the best of their ability.
- Assess the impact coronavirus has had
In April and May 2020, the pandemic saw some industries shrink by 90%. To create your new post-Covid strategy, you need to evaluate how the crisis has affected your organisation. Consider what had to be changed and why. This could have been your suppliers, where your team worked, or even the technology you used. What was successful and what wasn’t? These factors will influence your strategy going forward. For instance, retailers have had to make the fast transition to selling online for customers as sales fell by a quarter due to store closures at the beginning of the pandemic.
Identify which changes have created opportunities too. For instance, working from home has actually been a blessing for many businesses in terms of finances and productivity. And as a result, managers are likely to continue this practice.
- Pinpoint the key areas needing improvement
After assessing the damage, you need to figure out which areas of your business require improvement in order to survive in a post-Covid-19 world. It’s very likely that the pandemic has highlighted a few issues, and now’s the perfect time to iron those out. For example, perhaps you weren’t sticking to budgets so your finances are a little worse for wear, or your suppliers weren’t reliable enough. Pinpointing your weaknesses can help place you in a better position to overcome any future challenges you might face. Focus on creating a strong organisational immune system that’s prepared to deal with similar problems, rather than putting your efforts towards short-term profits. Ignoring issues within your business model is not an option either — this won’t bode well for your future as a company. You’re it for the long-haul so your business strategy needs to be futureproof.
- Check your current financial position
Going forward, your finances are more important than ever, especially if your business experienced significant income losses — UK SMEs lost 30% of their revenue during the pandemic. Knowing where your business stands is essential. Consider how Covid-19 has impacted your cash flow by updating your financial statements (including profits and losses), then compare these to the previous year’s numbers to analyse the damage. If you have suffered a drop in revenue, evaluate how that may impact your current position and whether you need to get some additional support to keep your business afloat until you’re back on track. Finally, create a detailed financial forecast, and to prevent any further income loss, constantly monitor where you’re at so you’ll notice any potential problems before they occur.