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COVID 19 - And then what? Time to plan ahead

On November 10, 1942, after the first victories in Northern Africa Winston Churchill made his "Battle of Egypt" speech in the House of Commons, using the phrase "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning".

I don't presume to know at what stage we are in this pandemic. It is not the beginning nor it's the end. Indeed it feels like the beginning of the end.

Similarly, I can't presume to know how the world is going to look like post-COVID, but some patterns are starting to emerge. It is quite safe to presume that high-street retail is not going back to it's pre-COVID glory. This market has actually started to decline long before COVID, that only accelerated its demise. Since there is no vacuum in the world, the space left by high-street shops closing is stronger online shopping, and it would not be too much of a gamble to predict that once circumstances allow it, all forms of entertainment - holidays, dining, shows and concerts, etc. are going to boom, at least temporarily.

It also seems that remote-work is here to stay although it is hard to say to what extent. This will, on the one hand, adversely affect the city-centre cafes and restaurants market, the office-space market and public transport but on the other hand keep boosting the private demand for office supplies, domestic broadband etc. Perhaps budgets previously earmarked to improve commuting will now be diverted to other, less damaging purposes.

This is all on the macro-level and might or might not affect your business. It only goes to show that there is already some information about the future so it may be a good time to start planning even if your business is totally shut-down (and maybe even more so).

So how to practically approach it?

Brainstorm - try to think of all the opportunities and threats that the post-COVID era present to your business. It is best not to do it alone but try to get input from as many people as possible.

Dream - it may sound overly optimistic but try to imagine how your ideal business will look like in 10 years' time. Where will it be? What will it do? How many people you are going to employ? What will it sell? To whom? Don't let reality get in the way - this is your opportunity to paint the picture with your own colours.

Bridge the gap - create a plan that will take you from the post-COVID opportunities scenario to your dream. This is the exact opposite of the adage "Don't Try To Leap an Abyss in Two Jumps". In fact, it takes many small steps to cross this abyss and if COVID taught us anything it is that it's silly to make long-term plans. Make plans for one year, break them down to quarterly targets and then every week plan the next week's tasks that are relevant to this quarter's targets and will take you one small step on the path that leads to your long term dream.

Adjust and fine tune - since the world is dynamic, plans you made last year (or last quarter) may not be relevant anymore. Don't hesitate to make changes in line with the new realities you encounter along the road. Even your dream might change one day. That's alright so long as you repeat this exercise to recreate new consecutive 1-year plans to lead you on the new path.

Keep your head up - this is the only way to remain motivated and to always see the long-term dream ahead of you.

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