The world is changing – but it hasn’t stopped!
Has the Hamster Wheel of Business Stopped?
The world has changed – and it’s not going back to the way it was before. Now I know you’ve heard this before when the Global Financial Crisis happened. It was true then as much as it is now. It’s a bit like when an earthquake hits. There’s the quake and its immediate impact, then things settle down. You know somethings have changed but they aren’t immediately visible. Before long you’ve forgotten anything happened until the next quake hits. In the meantime some people will have made their homes more resilient, other won’t. Planning is more important than ever – acting on the plan is the key to future success.
Which type are you?
For the next few months you might find you have some time on your hands. You’ll have some space to think rather than reacting to the day to day operations of your business. The next 3 to 6 months are a unique opportunity – so what are you going to do with it? Will you spend your time worrying about it? Second-guessing what level of catastrophes are going to happen? OR will you use the time to be proactive and plan your way through to the new future. In a word we can be LEADERS.
If everything is going to change, how is it going to be different? As with the rest of the world I can only guess. In truth is no one knows for sure what’s going to be different, but it’s safe to project:
- You are going to be playing catch up on the critial work that didn’t get done that. The NHS hips will still get replaced, heart surgery will continue, babies will still be born. In construction houses will still be built. Film and TV studios will still be making programmes;
- Remote working will become more normal and our idea of flexible working will change;
- Some companies will fail and never recover – new companies will start up;
- We’ll have discovered new connections, new communities, new partners;
- We’ll value life, health and freedom of choice more;
- You’ll travel less for work and more for pleasure;
- Food won’t be taken so for granted – we’ll start growing and eating more of our own seasonal food;
- Less travel and commuting means we stand a chance of hitting the carbon reduction targets – hey, we might just make this a healthier planet to live on.
There are so many different scenarios.
So, what are you going to do about it?
It seems that there are 3 choices:
- The Old Way;
- Tweaking it a bit – changing a few things, making a few adjustments; or
- Starting again!
The Old Way
When the world opens for business again, you can go back to doing business exactly the same as before. Or you can try. When the restrictions are lifted, everyone is going to be chasing what was lost. Lost revenue, resources and people. Everyone is going to be wanting to get back on the horse and ride out to wrangle new business. They are going to want to create new things, sell more stuff and kick start customer engagement. Some of them have already shot themselves in the foot with short term thinking. Wetherspoons and Sports Direct immediately come to mind!
Everyone is going to be looking the same as before –
and it’s not going to be the same.
With time on their hand’s customers are going to re-evaluate what they need from you. They are going to rethink what they need and want. They are going to see the world differently, having figured out what they can live without and what they can’t.
People with specific skills will be in demand. They are going to remember what was important to them. They are going to remember which companies deliver those needs. And because they are going to be in demand, they are going to have choices – and they might not choose you!
The current crisis has shown businesses how resilient they are. Are you are struggling and relying on the government intervention? If so, your business wasn’t that resilient. Doing the same and expecting to be able to survive is like the ostrich putting his head in the sand and leaving his backside exposed.
“The Old Way” is a ticket to extinction, if not now,
then certainly the next time something like this happens.
Tweaking It A Bit
You might be tempted to make small changes. To nibble round the edges of your business and take the easy choices. We’ve already seen some businesses use the current crisis to get rid of a few problem employees and “cut some dead wood” out of their team. They haven’t addressed how they allowed the wrong people into their company in the first place. Tweaking is a short-term solution. It doesn’t solve a lot of structural problems that many businesses have drifted into.
When you first started your business you most likely built it one day at a time. You survived by focusing on the most important challenges of each day. It starts with getting your first customers, then it keeping the cash flowing. At some point you get your first employee. The pressure starts because now you have another “mouth to feed”.
Did you think carefully about your business model? Or what the right structure for your organisation was? Or did you build it like an allotment shed? Using the resources that were available and making the best of what was in front of you? Did you have plans for a big bright future but forgot those plans in the frenetic pace of getting off the ground?
Making a few minor amendments to the way you do business is pretty much what most people are going to do. Everyone will be in the same boat, doing the same things and fighting for the same result. This will be a race to the lowest price in an attempt to get customers back at any cost. If you were already working on the slimmest of margins, then your business is not sustainable. Now is the ideal time to get on top of a new business model – think differently, act differently. And that takes more than a few tweaks. It’s time to think and act more radically.
In the new Universe, a few tweaks aren’t going to fix a broken business.
A broken business needs to be reset.
If you were to start your business for the first time in 3- or 4-months’ time, what would you do? How would you start again? What would be different?
Just think – one page of blank paper, no limitations.
What happens when you think differently?
Shaking it up requires radical thinking (note I did not say reckless). It’s not for the feint hearted, it’s for the brave. It takes courage and commitment to rethink everything about your business. It means parking your ego at the door and asking, “what’s possible?”
The world is going to be different when the crisis ends. Like animals coming out from hibernation, everyone is going to be chasing the same customers. In the same way they always have done. The winners are going to be the businesses that have moved forward and thought about how to operate according to the new world. So, what do you need to think about?
What do you need to do to get an unfair share of the future?
There are 7 questions you need to ask when you are shaking up your business:
4. Business model
6. Your role in the business
7. Your life outside the business