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Return to normal(ish) - 7 Questions to ask yourself NOW

It is early days but it seems that the world is slowly starting to open up for business. The stages and rates may not be

universal but in most countries COVID-19 is in a downward trend and governments announce measures to allow businesses to resume operations.

What does it mean to you and to your business? What to do next? This article will try to post some questions you need to consider:

  1. Rethink it all - there is little doubt the coronavirus pandemic is a trauma not experienced, at least in Europe and North America since World War 2. Such an experience may have affected your reasons to be a business owner altogether so do not skip questioning your raison d’etre.

  2. Getting there - no long term plan is worth the medium it is written on if your business does not survive. Have you made sure you can reach the days post COVID-19 with some wind in your sails? Is your cash-flow secure enough? Have you taken advantage of all the relevant government loans/grants? Are you keeping in touch with your existing/potential customers even if they do not presently give you any business? Are you maximising sales under the existing situation?

  3. Business model - it is safe to assume that life and business will not be the same post COVID-19:

  4. Commerce: Some pre-pandemic trends have already accelerated. The growth of online shopping and the demise of cash are just 2 examples and there is no reason to think that these (and other) trends will slow-down or reverse after the pandemic.

  5. Government: governments had no choice but to dip their fingers into the economy, reversing the last 40 years' policies in most of the world.

  6. Environment: Similar to Commerce above, the trends are not new but have the potential to accelerate after the pandemic.

How will these trends affect your business model? Are there any other changes that might have positive or negative impact?

  1. Target market/s - while some of your previous target markets may be as relevant as always, others may be less so or not at all. What are your post-pandemic target markets? How to get to them?

  2. Competition - entering new markets will certainly mean new competitors, but other changes in the marketplace may attract new competitors to your existing markets. While it may be difficult to foresee this (it’s hard enough to plan your own future, let alone plan others’) prudence is paramount. Keep your sensors out to any changes in your markets and try to prepare contingency plans. Most importantly, circle your wagons - strengthen your relationships with your clients to make sure that if and when a new competitor arrives you will at least know about it fast enough.

  3. Pricing - is your pricing right for the new circumstances? Moving from offline to online shopping, for example, may in the short term increase your costs - you are now doing the pick-and-pack while in your brick-and-mortar shop your customers did it, not to mention the shipping that may have been non-existent. In the long-run, though, closing the high-street shop and moving to a fully online business will save lots of rent and taxes and may change the employee profile from highly skilled sales and service people to lower-paid warehouse staff.

How will this (and other changes) affect your pricing, presently and in the future?

  1. Logistics - how will a new business model affect your supply-chain? Your inventory levels and management?

Business, and business management are not one-size-fits-all so no article can cover all the things to think about but the points raised above are probably common to most businesses. Don’t lay-back, though. Think hard about your business and marketplace and try to find issues that were not covered here but are still relevant to you. It is an exercise worth doing frequently but never more so than NOW.

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