In this article, I’ve looked at how businesses can thrive when they emerge from the coronavirus lockdown. And I’ve considered what entrepreneurs must do to take control of the six strategic areas for business recovery that make up the Thrive agenda: Team, Honesty, Revenues, Innovation, Velocity and the Environment.
During lockdown you may have adopted new ways of working to keep your teams safe and motivated and these could provide the ingredients of success as things get back to normal. For instance, consider the health and wellbeing issues related to reintroducing travel to work. Is it really needed or, more over, what is the right blend with office and working from home? Lessons learned through this difficult period can provide the foundation for a new and more resilient operating model. And it’s not just the way you work with employees that may need to change. Think about your relationships with other stakeholders, such as investors, suppliers and, of course, clients. Rethinking how you work with them could lead to a greater value exchange and richer outcomes from collaboration.
At this moment of crisis, there is a real opportunity for you to demonstrate important leadership traits, starting with authenticity. Such traits can help you to increase the positive energy each time you engage with staff, clients and suppliers and will see you evolve as a competent champion. You should also show the foresight to pivot your business model as required to ensure your company prospers. Resilience will be needed, as will a large dose of pragmatism and humour. This, mixed with honesty, will galvanise your businesses for a greater future. Use the simple who, what, where, when, why and how framework to approach challenges and respond with outstanding solutions.
As we emerge from lockdown there will be a need to quickly return to revenues. This has to be done while staying true to your purpose and aims, whether they are charitable, or community or commercially biased. You will also need to balance sensitivity with commercial reality. While providing support in tough times may have built relationships and sentiment, this should not be confused with the need for a strong value proposition. Acting quickly and making an immediate difference will give you the ability to retain and grow client revenues. New client acquisition equally needs to be a function of a rapid sales process and effective pipeline management.
In the Covid-19 environment, innovation has been key to the survival and stability of businesses and sticking with this mindset will also allow you to thrive after lockdown. Think of some of the non-traditional collaborations we have seen in recent months, such as the Formula One teams joining forces with open designs, to manufacturer ventilators. Many entrepreneurs have rapidly got to grips with new technologies, such as Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts and Sharepoint in recent weeks. Continuing in this same spirit by embracing big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things should help you to improve and automate what you do and enable your business to thrive.
To re-start or reimagine your business you will need the urgency and mindset of a start-up, and a focus on the marketing Ps of product, price, promotion, place and people. Use this period as a time to work ‘on’ the business, to refine your purpose and to take advantage of the lessons you’ve learned during the coronavirus crisis to inform your strategy for the future. If daily and weekly video calls have brought a crispness and clarity to the way your team works, how can you best apply this after the pandemic? And if your place is informed by digital and physical appropriateness, surely this will drive velocity and a stronger, quicker recovery.
An economist might argue that macro thinking and micro action on sustainability go hand in hand, so what does your business do to improve our world? And what does it do to protect and create jobs and increase profit (and pay tax)? As a business leader, these are things you can plan for. And in the post virus world they are likely to be high on the agenda.
So, what of the business-specific environment as Covid-19 recedes? Will a large office be needed? Could it accommodate social distancing? Do you need the cost, downtime and waste of excess travel? And what about the ongoing wellbeing of the team? How do these near-term issues drive organisational development now and for your future?
And can your annual operating plan be flexed if and when Covid-19 morphs into its next derivative? The notion of a robust yet agile plan is key and for the vast majority of SMEs, a plan will allow for flexibility and adaptation with a mix of deliberate and known actions, rather than actions that are simply a response to a changing situation.
The SME business community are the risk takers and the dream makers. You are critical in returning the economy to a new normal. For business leaders now is the time to adopt the mindset of a start up, commit, strategise and plan with velocity to thrive after lockdown.
This article is written for the St James’ Place Entrepreneurs Club newsletter. The opinions expressed by third parties are their own are not necessarily shared by St. James’s Place Wealth Management.