COVID-19 has put a lot of stress and pressure on business owners. During a crisis our brains move into fight, flight or freeze mode – our heart rate increases, our breathing speeds up, we feel anxious and alert – our body is getting ready to face the crisis.
But the effects of stress aren’t always physical. The logic center of our brain gets suppressed, which means we don’t always make choices rationally or assess our options logically. We may react based on fear instead. In the article “Don’t Let Uncertainty Paralyze You” by the Harvard Business Review, Nathan Furr shares habits to help navigate turbulent times, one being “Open your eyes to all options, present and future”.
A fear response can cause us to forget the “bigger picture” but according to Furr, “if we can remember there is a context vaster than we might initially have thought, filled with more possibilities than we might have envisioned, we are much more likely to find an optimal outcome.”
There are business planning and measurement tools available to explore areas of your business where you may be able to improve cash flows, find new sources of revenue or improve efficiencies, especially amid a downturn. Taking control of what you can, basing your decisions on facts and putting actionable steps in place will help build resilience in your business for the long term.
Office Space and Remote work
Look at your current work environment – are your employees working remotely? If employees are working remotely, how has this impacted your business during COVID-19 or has it? Talk to your employees and find out how moving to a remote office has impacted their activities. Has it improved or hindered their performance? Revaluate your office space for physical distancing requirements and opportunities for individuals to work remotely for the long-term. Is there an option to decrease costs on office or workspace or renegotiate your lease agreements for lower payments?
Take a closer look your workforce and what they do – do you have overlap on duties or job functions? Are there changes that need to be made to recover more quicker from the downturn? BDC (www.bdc.ca) provides a workplace planning chart to help track employee functions and changes to staff. This tool can help look at how employees work today and what that could look like in the future. It will identify areas critical to your business operations, skill and/or training needs key to moving out of the recession as well as areas where job sharing or shift work will help employees with family commitments resulting from COVID-19.
Ease of Payments and Delivery for Customers
Is it easy for your clients to get access to your products or services? Think about ways of making it easier. If you have a distributor, there may be other ways to reach your clients directly, more quickly or potential new distribution partners who already exist. Do you have the technology in place for clients to make electronic payments? Is there infrastructure to support customer service? Are there delivery options that put customers at ease and clear, accessible safety procedures in place?
Companies of all sizes can easily access regional, national and even global markets in a cost-effective way using e-commerce platforms for both buying and selling products. For example, many retailers have adapted e-commerce solutions with pick-up and delivery services during the quarantine to keep their business up and running.
Other Sources of Revenue
Look for opportunities and innovation. Is there a bigger demand for one of your products or services in the current environment? If so, is there a way to expand sales and look for new markets? Is there an opportunity to adapt a current service to meet the changing needs of your clients? Many businesses have moved to online meetings, opening up new markets regionally or globally for their services. Think about what you can do with the expertise and products you have today to help your clients with a specific need.
We understand that navigating business planning during a downturn can be difficult. For guidance and help with your business and financial planning needs, please connect with us.