So according to the PM’s recent announcement, we’re officially on the way back from Covid-19. Of course each state and territory is going about the way back in a slightly different fashion including the speed at which they’re ‘reopening’.
But that gives rise to the question, what about you and your business – do you have a clear plan, aka “a roadmap”, for the post crisis future of your business?
When crises happen, most businesses, yes even the truly big behemoths (and governments too), tend to run around like headless chickens, just trying to do what they can to get through the days and weeks. And the research on the post crisis future of those businesses is quite sobering. According to US based FEMA, 40% don’t reopen and a further 25% fail within a year. Now, to be clear, this research is based on disaster management (ie; fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc), but possibly only because it’s been 100 years since the last global pandemic.
But as the weeks and months go on and panic subsides, it pays to move out of ‘getting through’ mode and into post crisis future planning; developing a new vision for your business. What the post pandemic environment (and economy) looks like over the next 12-18-24 months no-one really knows. Sure, everyone’s hoping everything might just ‘bounce’ back, but that’s probably a bit (a lot) unrealistic.
What we do know is that regardless of whatever reality we’ll all be facing, you need to start preparing for it now. Having clarity around what you want for your business moving forward over the medium/long term, say 5-10 years can act as a compass that guides your way.
There’s a great book called Lead from the Future by MW Johnson and J Sushkewicz (HBR Press 2020) that outlines a useful process for doing exactly that. Those steps include the following four;
Spending time imaging your business’ post crisis future
This is all about exploring what you want – both in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, but also about where your business is heading once the great shut-in of 2020 becomes a distant memory. Spend time focussing on what you know about your customers, the market/industry and how you think that will change as a result of crisis but also about how they will evolve over time. How will your business need to change to be more resilient? How will you meet your customers’ needs better? How will you make sure your product/service truly resonates with them? And what about which of your products and services (maybe even staff and processes) maybe no longer make sense – no matter how attached you might have been to them? The authors suggest you (not anyone else) spend a good 10-20% of your time each week just thinking about this.
Reverse engineer a strategy from 10 years into the post crisis future to now
Imagine where you’ll be in 10 years time (your perfect world – but still allowing for what might be a ‘new’ normal – because that’s almost a given). Make sure you think about what was changing prior to the crisis, that’s likely to stay. Let’s use working from home as an example. Before the crisis, it was being heralded as something of a Utopian ideal, something to work toward. Enter Covid-19 and suddenly, it was an almost immediate reality for all but frontline staff.
Let’s say your ideal 10-year position is bigger, stronger, more strategic. Working backwards, what benchmarks will you have hit along the way? Think about what would have to be true, by when, for your plans to roll out as you’re seeing them.
So thinking about our example above, you might need to factor in more people continuing to want flexibility and work from home That might mean you no longer need as large a facility to house your business operations – hello less money on rent. But that’s harder to do when you need people on deck to get product out the door. So it might also necessitate outsourcing inventory management, pick and pack, shipping and logistics. Hello more time to focus on strategy and customers (and possibly happier staff members). Working backwards unencumbers you from constraints in the way now. But it also allows you some concrete thinking around revenues, customers, profits, opportunities, and priorities. That way you’ll now where you might start to focus moving forward.
Be all about rapid learning and preparedness to change
Covid-19 has taught us just how fast an environment can change. And let’s face it the speed of change has been speeding up, not slowing down over the last 20 or so years. Data, now more available than ever, is the only way measure what’s happening. Initial assumptions are fine, but get to measuring them asap – then test, test, test. What happens if we do a, b and/or c-z? Test and refine. Learn. And test again. Be prepared to change what you’re doing until it works the way you need it to to get you to the next milestone you’ve mapped out in step 2. If necessary, as opportunities arise and markets change, be prepared to adjust the strategy against your vision.
Sell your vision to others
And finally, you’ll need to get your team on board. This absolutely includes your staff, but also other stakeholders like advisors, your board if you have one, even your spouse/family. The authors speak of a close association between mission and margins for those who emerge into their post crisis future leading with vision.
So if we can help take some of the day to day operational stuff around inventory, storage, pick and pack, shipping, etc off your hands so that you can sink your teeth into working on your vision for 2030, we’d love to talk. You can call us on 02 9828 0111 or get in touch via the form below.
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