What a year! Good for some businesses, but absolutely awful for most.
Household names such as Debenhams, which has been on our high street for more than 200 years, weren’t able to overcome the challenges the pandemic brought. Given the depth of what businesses across the country had to face during 2020, it’s perhaps no surprise that many others failed to do so, too.
Smaller businesses run on much tighter margins than the big chains, and many have felt the pinch (more like a hard squeeze) this year. Banned from opening during national lockdowns, non-essential businesses and companies within sectors such as travel, tourism and hospitality have had difficulties earning any sort of income since the end of March.
The furlough scheme and bounce back loans tried to stem the flow of redundancies and businesses falling into administration. As the rate of unemployment was confirmed just this morning to be more than double what it was before the pandemic, it’s clear that there have been many casualties of 2020; not just the number of deaths from the virus itself, but also from the fallout of the measures the government introduced to prevent further loss of life.
We can’t go back to see how it may have turned out under a different strategy. We just have to get on with it.
On the flipside of the catastrophes happening across the business world are the companies that have grown as a result of the pandemic. Supermarkets and food suppliers, makers of PPE, livestreaming entertainment companies…the list goes on. It sounds callous to say it, but it’s true: in every crisis there are opportunities.
In the middle is where most of our clients sit as we write this. They’ve survived 2020 (many, through the skin of their teeth). They’re still trading. They may be exhausted and wondering what else this pandemic can throw at them, but they’ve managed to keep their heads above water thus far.
Their next challenge is to thrive.
If you’re one of the businesses that survived, that’s fantastic—truly it is. However, you now need to build your resilience; this year has proved that you never know what’s round the corner. To protect yourself from the next catastrophe, you need to grow. To build a strong foundation, not a shaky one that could collapse any minute.
What you absolutely cannot do is remain static.
It may feel like all you want to do is enjoy Christmas, if only to catch your breath and be thankful for what you have when others have lost so much. This is fine, necessary even. But come the New Year, you need to dust yourself off and steel yourself for a new battle.
So, how do you grow when the world still seems to be on its knees?
There are a few answers to this, and it will differ from sector to sector, business to business.
One idea is to diversify. To take advantage of opportunities and the changes in consumer behaviour that the pandemic has highlighted and hastened. To move into the digital world as much as possible. To build products from your services and services from your products. To analyse today’s trends and think about what people truly need at this moment in time. Continuing as you were is akin to burying your head in the sand.
I know it will sound scary, but to achieve results in any of these areas, you’ll need to speculate to accumulate—none of these results will fall into your lap, you need to make them happen. This may mean funds for product development, marketing strategy and outsourcing your promotions, and investment in your business operations to ensure they’re fit for purpose. I know it’s rubbish to think about investing at a time when you’re grateful for each penny and when you may be on a financial precipice, but what’s the alternative? Seeing your competitors do this instead, and watching them gallop away with your already fragile customer base? Identifying opportunities but allowing other people to take advantage of them because you don’t want to put yourself at further risk? Knowing that you may have untapped sales if you expand the range of what you offer, but settling for simply managing as you are until ‘the time is right’?
Life is harsh. Business is tough. You may be sporting bruises and battle scars, but the best way to win is to keep on fighting. Deep down, you know this.
If what I’m saying is resonating with you and firing you up, by God, I absolutely admire your energy and determination. Picking yourself up and going from surviving to thriving takes grit and a lot of inner mettle. You’ve made it through what has been one of the hardest experiences many of us on this planet has ever had to face, and now you’re saying, ‘What’s next? Another challenge? Bring it on!’
2021 isn’t going to be a walk in the park, we can already see this. It will be another year of challenges and change. You’re used to this now, though, so let’s take it up a notch…
Talk to us and let us show you how we can help you to thrive, thrive, thrive. Call 07983 575934 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.