Are You Planning for When the Storm Passes?
The past four weeks here in the UK have been unlike anything we have seen before. The pace of change has been breathtaking and all-encompassing, and the impact on people, businesses, and our national and global economies immense. So, moving into "survival" mode was an automatic response from most, if not all, companies.
Understanding today’s reality
Four weeks on, I sincerely hope that people have stabilised their businesses. Here in the UK, the level of state intervention has been unprecedented. As one example, the opening today of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs portal, for businesses to make claims on that governmental support, will feel like drinking from a fire hose at full blast.
But what is today’s reality?
I have experienced three levels of response from my clients. I have those who have hunkered down, in full survival mode, awaiting a return to normality, whatever and whenever that might be. I have some who are muddling along as best they can, trying to keep some cash flowing into the business. Then, I have a few who see this as a passing storm, which requires clear thinking and planning for when their company emerges from that storm.
Unfortunately, too many businesses are hunkered down or muddling along. Mostly, because of the uncertainty they feel. They are uncertain about when the recovery will come, what shape the economy will be in, and whether "business as usual" will resume.
What are the indicators for the future?
I make a living as a consultant, mentor, and business coach, but I am poor at crystal ball reading, as are most people. However, the early signs are that we will be in a recession, maybe a global recession, such has been the impact of the pandemic.
The author Margaret Heffernan urges, “Don’t lose your ambition. This situation is unparalleled. Many have the instinct to hunker down, think small. When economies shrink, there are opportunities you will never find any other time.”
I believe she is right. There are endless opportunities right now. Not necessarily easy and not fundamentally simple, but tremendous opportunities nonetheless.
So, as we move into week five of the lockdown here in the UK, my mind turns to what will you do next?
So, what is next?
Sir Alex Ferguson, regarded by many as one of the greatest and most successful soccer managers of all time, commented once that his team, Manchester United, had a virus that infected everyone. He called it winning.
He also often wondered why people spent so much time worrying about circumstances they could not control, rather than those they could.
Building on those notions of winning, and managing those circumstances you can, my suggestion is to pivot your mindset and move from thoughts of survival to those of thriving in the new economic dawn that will follow this passing storm.
Some questions to open up your thinking
To help you, here are four potential questions that should help to open up your thinking on thriving:
- How can you add value to your current or future clients?
- How might you reduce costs for current or future clients?
- What additional products and services might previous or future clients be in the market for post-pandemic?
- What other opportunities are out there right now for you and your business?
So, my advice right now is to relax your thinking, widen your vision, look to the far horizon and consider how you will thrive as this passing storm abates.
Your reflection should encompass your "why"–the purpose of your business and the goals you wish to attain for the future; and your core values–the behaviours that you know will help you to reach those goals. Keep a focus on those things, and let your mind roam free. You will be amazed at what you might consider.
Tough times increase the need to distinguish your customer proposition, and to stay connected. So, please remember, adversity is a fact of life. It can’t be controlled. What you can control is how you react to it.
If you want to know more, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you good thinking!