As you’re considering the future of your business, you may find yourself a bit lost in identifying where you currently stand. We all know that in order to even have a business, you currently must survive whatever circumstances have been thrown your way – with or without a pandemic.
Survival in the now is key towards having a business to push forward in the future. Focusing on reducing unnecessary expenses, and how to stretch cash the furthest will help, for sure. This means dumping perks that aren’t necessary for workers to do their jobs, and looking at how to reduce the major costs of real estate and utilities, if possible.
Make sure you have enough cash on hand for employee salaries for the near future. As hard as it is, try to not lay off employees, but if you must, see about transitioning them within your company.
Look within your company at the talent you already have to see who can wear different hats and utilize their skills at maximum capacity.
Make sure your talent has a voice, and listen to the suggestions they may have on work environments, desired resources, or training to help them carry you further over the next few years.
You may also need to consider new ideas, and pivot to producing a service or a good that you may not have otherwise offered in order to keep up with current global demands. Also, try to make your resources last in order to reduce upcoming strain, if possible.
Exploring materials and historical use cases to help you learn is also important; you never know what detail you could uncover that may give you inspiration or a completely new perspective for driving ahead. Now is the time to collaborate with other businesses, and to learn from each other on what’s working, and what is not. This is much easier if you belong to a professional network or cohort, but can even be done on an informal basis with connections you have made socially within your industry.
Once you’ve taken steps to ensure survival (well, as best you can), it’s time to consider resetting your strategy.
More than likely, when you were planning this year’s roadmap sometime last year, you never took into account, “oh yeah, let’s not forget about the global pandemic”. You need to do a true assessment of where you stand right at this very moment.
One needs to take into consideration the “Stockdale Paradox”, as introduced to the business world by Jim Collins back in 2001. Named after James Stockdale, a Vietnam Prisoner of War, it’s essentially what led to his survival – and thriving – after his release.
This basically means you can hope for better times, but you’d better be sure you understand where you are now, and what can happen before skies are blue again.
This humbling dose of reality is what keeps you grounded, and focused, for the end goal, without all of your trust placed in lofty hopes and dreams.
Once you’ve identified the grimness of the situation, you can begin to redefine the goals you’d once set, into something more realistic within your current parameters.
This is also a great time to identify what strongholds you may have against your competitors, and lean heavily into those. After you’ve restructured and replanned the short term goals (i.e. one to three years), don’t forget to communicate with your company!
After you’ve done a bit of a reset and have a new energy going forward, it’s time to see how you can thrive into the long term. However, do not be fooled that this is a “set it and forget it” type of plan. There is just as much trial and error here as you may have found earlier in survival mode.
Once you see something is not working, it’s time to toss it, and try something else. Maybe you thought that new product was going to knock your competitor out of the water, but instead, it’s falling flat. You may have to do more pivots than a dance company, but you must remain flexible.
This is also not a time to be shy about investing in your resources: what are ways you can automate certain parts of your business or the customer experience? You don’t have to know everything – after all, you can’t see the future, but you absolutely must be willing to keep working at continuing to improve your business at this stage.
As hard as it is to run a business, leaders must be transparent, both with themselves and the members of their companies.
An honest assessment, clear goals (even for the short term), and following through the steps to implement, no matter how scary, are all signs of maturity in a wavering world. Companies can go from surviving to thriving, and it may be a really bumpy road, but on the other side, it’s going to look so different!