Transition. The entire world is in a state of transition as we adjust to living and working in new ways as the novel coronavirus wreaks its havoc across most of the globe.
For most of us, this time of transition means understanding ideas like social distancing and flattening the curve. For businesses, it means finding new ways of operating to survive as the economy slows significantly and we have to adjust our thinking and actions to remain viable for the foreseeable future. Business strategies need to adjust to take the new reality into account. Here are 6 strategic considerations for businesses to survive and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.
1. Create Cash Flow Forecasts
Ever heard the phrase “cash is king”? The reason it’s a cliché is because it’s true, especially in times of uncertainty. Cash gives you flexibility, and knowing where and when your cash is coming and going will be a critical tool to plan in the months ahead.
Revenue forecasts will certainly change for the months ahead. Employers need to consider how to keep paying for employees, production, and other needs, even as revenues are not at previous levels. This may also mean assessing what expenses can be reduced, postponed, or even eliminated in the interim while the economy recovers.
Some considerations when developing cash flow forecasts:
- Some clients may have to delay payments. Other clients may be lost. Even previously invoiced work is not guaranteed to be paid. Don’t be overly optimistic when forecasting when inflows will arrive.
- Cash flow forecasts should be updated frequently as new information comes in and assumptions are validated or invalidated.
- Some vendors may allow payment plans, which can give you more flexibility in cash flow.
- Grants may be available to help with cash flow in the short term. (More on that below.)
- Consider whether your current pricing model still makes sense to cover costs; make adjustments if needed to make the cash flow work.
2. Renew Your Marketing Strategy
Another aspect of the new normal: your customers have different expectations. And you may even have new target customers.
As restrictions begin to ease, customers may expect new standards of cleanliness. They may expect to see fewer customers in any given location at the same time. They may expect the organization to provide more options for delivering their products or services. They may simply be hesitant to return at all due to economic uncertainty.
The key here is to consider these changing expectations and craft a new marketing strategy and new sales plans accordingly. Given that no one has a crystal ball to predict what will happen and when, businesses need to be flexible; consider creating multiple different scenarios for a way forward. Having options will help you to have a game plan no matter which path ends up being reality. Listen to your customers and adapt as you go.
3. Leaders Need to Adapt
In times of crisis, we all look to leaders for guidance. In situations where there are no clear answers, we especially need leaders who can adapt, act quickly and mindfully, and create clear paths of action for the rest of us.
Adaptive leadership takes into account the varying (and sometimes conflicting) needs of the entire team. We have many varied needs right now: we need to feel safe and remain healthy; we need to have information on what is happening; we need to know what we can do to protect ourselves; we need to have the emotional support to get through the anxiety that comes with a crisis.
To meet these needs and more, adaptive leaders need to be empathetic, to communicate well, to be transparent in their communication, to be open to feedback, to be flexible, to make changes as new information arrives, and to recognize that changes will be needed continually.
4. Get ready - A new era of HR is coming
HR teams, like everyone else, will need to make an adjustment in the post-coronavirus world. HR teams will need to consider new ways of recruiting, managing staff, motivating employees, caring about employee well-being, and even new methods of communicating effectively.
Employees Will Continue to Need Flexibility
HR will need to consider how the business can best support employees who continue to work from home either full-time or part-time. The team will need to coordinate across departments to determine what technology and training investments may be required.
The team will also need to consider what policy changes may be needed to accommodate changed schedules and appropriate work-life balance for employees working remotely.
More employee flexibility is quickly becoming the new normal and businesses will need to adapt to continue to be fair while being flexible.
While flexible workforces promote increased creativity, they also encourage businesses to employ talented staff from various locations rather than sticking to a narrow talent pool determined by geography.
“If you have a full-time office, it’s reliant on the best people being a 10-kilometre radius from the office,” – Lisa Messenger
Employee Well-being, Including Mental Health, is Paramount
Employee well-being has always been important, but in an era where more employees are working remotely there are additional considerations for the HR and management teams. In particular, working from home has the risks of mental health deterioration. Even the most introverted among us still need some forms of social interaction, which is a component of the workday that gets drastically reduced when most employees are working in disparate locations. HR teams need to be aware of this and work with leaders and managers in the organization to take steps to help employees with well-being initiatives.
This also means employees may need different types of goals as the internal and external motivation balance changes in a remote work environment.
The recruitment teams need to reassess staffing and recruiting needs in this new environment. This may mean that roles and responsibilities need to be adjusted. It may mean recruiting is done remotely for the time being. Even if direct recruiting is put on hold, there are still activities for the recruitment team to do to continue to have a talent pipeline in place when the time is right to bring more staff back onboard, and to continue to bolster the employer brand.
We all know good communication & team culture is important. But in times of uncertainty, good communication becomes critical. Businesses need to communicate with empathy, and communicate more frequently than before in order to keep employees, customers, and even the public informed of the current situation as it continually changes.
5. Small Business Grants & Financial Assistance
Another strategic change for business survival in the post-COVID-19 world is to be on the lookout for things like small business grants that may be the key to staying afloat until the economy can return to some semblance of normal.
In the new financial year, there will be a lot of grants opened up for SMEs. To stay in the know, subscribe to our newsletter, where we will be notifying subscribers of these types of opportunities as they arise.
There are already a range of state and territory grants available, both coronavirus and otherwise; check this site for links to options available where you’re located.
QLD Government announces a $10,000 grant for small businesses doing it tough. Click here to keep reading.
Last but certainly not least, right now is an ideal time to take a good look at the overall business model and assess whether it is still meeting your needs. Are there new avenues to consider? Can you utilize existing skills and expertise to serve new groups or develop new products? Are there new ways to serve existing clients better? How can you adapt within the new legal/safety restrictions, and meet new trends?
Director & Business Advisor
Tony is a director of Trekk Advisory and based in our Brisbane office. He works heavily in the advisory space for his clients, focusing on strategic management consulting, mentoring, planning and more to make a difference in their businesses and lives.