Over the course of 2020, nearly every aspect of daily life was affected by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The economy took a tumble and while there has been some positive signals the recovery is moving forward, many industries and market sectors have been left in shambles. And studies show that small and medium-sized businesses are suffering the most.
The future, however, remains full of promise for organizations that are prepared to adapt to new ways of doing business. Many businesses have already applied safety measures, secured new equipment, and generally shifted gears to adapt to the challenges that COVID-19 presented.
No matter how your business has fared, you can position it for success moving forward. All it takes is a willingness to be flexible, a bit of ambition to innovate, and a clear plan to carry you through the trials and tribulations of the ongoing pandemic.
Take Inventory of Your Company with an Eye on the Future
As it has often been said, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. To compete in the new business environment, you must begin by taking a close look at how your business has operated in the past.
Examine your existing business plan and complete a comprehensive SWOT analysis to evaluate your organization’s…
A SWOT analysis will dramatically increase your awareness of all the relevant factors that should influence your business decisions moving forward. As you complete your SWOT analysis, keep in mind that consumer behavior has drastically changed and continues to fluctuate.
Ask yourself these questions and use the answers to guide your plan:
- What goods/services does your business provide and how does your business operate?
- How much will COVID impact your company’s goods/services and the way it operates?
- Does your business need to shift to meet the needs of consumers?
Begin 2021 with an Effective Plan in Place
After your SWOT analysis is complete, you can make a new plan that proactively responds to the changing business environment in the “new normal.” This means taking care to educate yourself on the coronavirus and its existing and potential impacts upon your business.
Depending on the nature of your business, you will likely need to make a number of changes to keep brick-and-mortar businesses safe for employees and/or customers. Of course, a consumer-facing retail store will have to take different precautions than a private office, factory, or warehouse. Common protective measures across business sectors and industries may include social distancing, sanitation, and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Running an online business or seeking to bring your business online? One of the top e-commerce concerns includes a strong focus on cybersecurity. Ensuring that you have the adequate information and technology security in place to protect your website, company servers and data, and your customers’ information should be a priority.
The issues outlined above are just some of the items that will need to be addressed in the creation of an effective business plan. And something you may not have thought about before is talking to your Banker. Your financial institution can be a valuable resource for getting advice on how to keep your plan on target and financially sound. At Lakeland Bank, we partner with business owners on a regular basis to help them run their business efficiently and provide guidance for future growth. Hear some of our customer testimonials.
Communicate and Evaluate Your New Plan
After solidifying your business plan, you may need to explain it to other parties that will have a part in the success of your new plan. Depending on the nature of your business, these parties may include employees, investors, customers, suppliers, partners, and/or contractors. Clearly explain the actions that you are taking, why you’re taking them, and choose communication channels that are appropriate for each audience such as email, direct mail, social media, and face-to-face interactions.
The next step is to evaluate the effectiveness of your new plan. Listen carefully to the input of employees, customers, and other concerned parties. Based on this feedback, you can make adjustments to the new business plan for optimal success.
The New “Business as Usual”
People who have faced the challenges of the pandemic head-on are far better equipped to live healthy and happy personal lives. Likewise, business owners who adapt to the “new normal” will achieve far more in their respective marketplaces. In short, developing a new “business as usual” plan along with a bit of flexibility will help to position your business for success.