The pandemic has posed huge challenges for the viability of many businesses. In just a few weeks at the beginning of 2020, ways of working needed to be quickly re-evaluated and assessments made as to how organisations were going to navigate and survive these ‘unprecedented times’...
Many businesses have had to face tough decisions about the future of their companies; however, many have risen to the challenges of 2020 and the fact that so many have survived, and in some cases come out stronger, is testament to the resilience and tenacity of business owners.
So, let’s end the year on a positive note, and look at some of the changes that were forced on businesses that have been a change for the better.
1. Accelerating digital transformation
The announcement of lockdown in March and the sudden removal of a physical workplace, forced many businesses to look at how they do business. Whether communicating with supply chains, new or existing customers, or internally with staff, businesses had to quickly develop different ways of working and interacting with each other.
This might have been focused around improving the business’s online presence with an updated website or additional functionality, online advertising, or social media campaign. Or it could have involved streamlining internal systems and processes or investment in digital infrastructure.
Whatever the focus, for many businesses the pandemic has increased momentum in terms of how they use technology, resulting in wider operational changes reliant on web-based applications. In the pre-COVID world, instigating these types of conversations and adopting the outcomes could have taken many months.
2. The importance of adaptability and innovation
Some businesses were able to take swift action and adapt their business to suit the needs of the market, managing to stabilise or even increase revenues by expanding their services or introducing new products.
Although it might not always be possible, all businesses should explore whether than can diversify or enter new markets. There may be areas of the business that could be adapted as a quick fix, but that could potentially work in the longer term too.
Here at Blue Rocket, we’ve been supporting clients by helping them work through different scenarios, or as summed up by Nancy, one of Senior Client Advisors, “We’re always here to provide support for our clients, and during the first lockdown in particular we found clients were coming to us because they just needed someone to listen, to provide a sounding board, and that’s what we’re here for”.
3. Upskilling and training
Reviewing and improving employee skills has been a priority for many businesses this year, as teams have got used to using new systems and dealing with suppliers or customers in a different way.
Essentially the pandemic has accelerated some of the trends that were already happening within digital technology by several years, and in order to survive, many small businesses will have had to improve their tech skills.
As varying degrees of remote working are likely to stay with us for the foreseeable future, employees need to be able to develop and enhance specific skills that allow them to manage their workflow, contribute to projects and collaborate with teammates. It’s not just about logging into Zoom or Microsoft Teams for meetings, employees need to be comfortable with a range of platforms and find ways to communicate effectively.
4. Productivity improvements
In some cases, less time spent travelling to meetings has meant greater capacity to meet more clients or customers, and a more productive and efficient team.
Although of course there will still be a place for physical meetings, networking and events, 2020 has shown that these can be less frequent and that holding these types of meeting virtually is just as effective, and less time consuming.
One of our Bromley-based clients, Panda Technical Services Ltd (PTS), was initially reluctant to take part in online networking sessions, but we encouraged him and Patrick Delaney, Owner at PTS says, ”Blue Rocket pushed me out of my comfort zone, the networking sessions have been revelatory and I’ve picked up two new business leads already!”
5. Identifying cost efficiencies
Along with ensuring employee safety, all small businesses have had a hard look at their cashflow and considered the impact COVID might have, both short and long term. Customers paying more slowly, fewer new customers, or clients moving to lower-priced competitors may have all taken their toll on cash reserves.
This year has prompted almost all businesses to re-evaluate their spending, and cutting back on non-essential expenditure may have also meant greater investment in the tools and systems that allow people to get back to, and continue, working.
6. Strengthening communities
For some, the removal of the commute and working remotely has had a positive effect. Many employees have reported that they feel they have a better work-life balance and greater sense of overall well-being.
Many businesses have become more localised, for example delivering takeaways, which has resulted in better engagement with local communities. Community life is essential for wellbeing, and we have all become more aware of how important our neighbours and communities are, as many have stepped forward as volunteers or formed groups to help support others.
Although there have been many challenges this year, the pandemic has also presented businesses with the unique opportunity to evaluate how they work day to day and potentially put in place processes and systems that could result in increased profit, productivity and employee engagement.
If you need support dealing with the impact COVID has had on your business, or if you’d like to discuss any of this with us, please call for an informal chat on 01322 555 442 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kent based accountants working with companies in all sectors including construction, cleaning, retail, consultancy, manufacturing and hospitality to help them expand their horizons and reach for the stars.