In business time to sit back and reflect is rare and unless you force it the day to day business keeps you away from the forward thinking. With this time of uncertainty are you being busy or taking time to plan?
In this time of international uncertainty, upheaval and temporary suspension of work we would like to explore several the opportunities available to business owners/leaders to begin to rebuild their business, the national, regional and global economies.
It is with a sense of hope that we have put this article together to spark a movement from “my business is in turmoil due to an international uncontrollable pandemic” to “we have some time to step back and see what we need to do now in order to be ready”. There is so much that can be done when we are released from the day to day focus of keeping the business going, paying suppliers, collecting money, producing good/services and paying employees.
We would remind everyone that this is not the first global/regional/national economic challenge, it is not even the first in this millennium and human nature we have recovered over and over. For an example take a quick look at the tables below to see some of the peaks and dips in unemployment and GDP.
We picked Ireland in the below tables but this information is representative of most economies/businesses.
Ireland GDP per Capita 1960 – 2020 courtesy of https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/IRL/ireland/gdp-per-capita
Unemployment Rate for Ireland since 1998 courtesy of Central Statistics Office.
As can be seen from the above the national or international economy has it ups and downs our human nature is to get in the face of adversity and find ways to overcome it repeatedly throughout history.
The relationship between local, national, international economies has become more important over the last number of decades with relative ease of movement of goods, services and talent. The current situation may create a more localised focus for several years, but the global focus will continue regardless.
So, what can we as business leaders do to prepare to climb the hill to the top of the next peak? Mainly we would like to focus on your business rather than international economic situations.
If your business is flat out keeping the world ticking over now this article may be a little early from you but still relevant. For those business who are majorly affected by the current crisis may find some assistance in focusing the mind for the next couple of months.
We would like to focus on 3 aspects of the business;
- What good/services should you focus on for the next 6, 12, 18 months?
- Human Capital,
- Strategy into Action.
Corporate Governance, Lean Six Sigma, Business Excellence and a dozen other methodologies all speak about the same thing in different ways from the simple Plan-Do-Check-Act to complex Strategic Plans all come down to the same thing “doing the right thing” based on a plan of action.
Many organisations around the world to survive have changed their product/service mix from a florist in Germany delivering fresh fruit and veg or a drinks company producing hand sanitizers. It’s time to review your product/service offering;
- What products of services do you currently offer that you wish to continue?
- What is the profitability or each product. product line/range and business unit?
- What is in the product development pipeline that should be scrapped, slowed down or ramped up? What is not in the pipeline that should be?
- What related products/services, that you would not normally launch/produce, have become important/vital in the changing marketplace?
- Where have you been offering your products/services in the past and where should you be offering them in the future?
With the changing way people view work, including the working from home working remotely or social distancing in the workplace new expectations have been set. Additionally, changing employer/manager – employee relations and methodologies have lead to a number of “that wont work” to “see this can work”. What aspects can you examine now including;
- Is the workforce you had the right team; how can we strengthen the organisation?
- How has this recent situation impacted the perception of the management and how do we build on the positive and mitigate the negative?
- Is the talent still available or have they moved on?
- What automation can we implement?
- Are our processes as efficient as possible?
- How have we change the way we work, measure performance, ensure timekeeping, managed holidays/shifts and conducted our meetings? What can we stop start or continue after we get back to full speed?
- What employee processes have we in place that need to be reviewed? E.g. working space, flexible working hours, task allocation, KPI measurement, recruitment, work related travel, communing practices and payroll processing.
Finally let’s look at our strategy into action process while we have a moment to think. Firstly, do you have a 1, 3, 5 year strategic plan? I don’t mean a pretty red folder on the shelf with all the nice wish list items that came out of last year’s management meeting. If not time to develop one if you do time to review and update. Some questions for your strategic planning process;
- What is the purpose of your organisation, sometimes called the Vision (Why are we in business), don’t say to make money that is the outcome rather than the reason? Some gurus say it should be for next 10 years some say it never changes. Initially make it an exercise in why we are here rather than a marketing poly.
- What are the 3-5 strategic goals for the next 3 – 5 year. Make them real and SMART, challenge yourself but make them relevant to what you can achieve. There are many tools available from one-page-plans to balanced score cards so experiment with the options and see what suits your organisation.
- What is the size of the market? What is the market share? This does not require a market research project costing money more just some intelligent estimates and a little research.
- What is your real financial situation? Current holdings, debtors, creditors, inventory, good will etc. what are your financial needs to achieve the strategy? What funding opportunities are available including Bank lending, Private Equity, Grants. Have I had a recent discussion with my local/regional Enterprise Development Organisation e.g. Enterprise Ireland?
- Now its time to convert the long-term plan into an Operational Plan, what will happen/be done over the next 6 – 12 months to achieve the 3 – 5 year plan. In many cases this is where organisations fall short. It takes time to develop the strategic plan not we have to get work done. Make sure the getting work done for today is in-line with the plan.
- Lastly create a roll-out plan for all the employees in the company get them on-board and euthanasic about the plan where they know what’s in it for;
- You as the leader.
- The employee personally.
- The organisation as a whole.
- The smaller team the employee works with.
- Society as a whole (employees’ family, local community, national pride, the environment etc.).
Now that you have you plan in place it all becomes easy, we wish. A plan gives you the map/compass to guide you only, the success comes when the plan is good and the leader has the resilience stay the course.
Businesses that aim for the moon don’t usually reach the moon, but they do leave earth. So reach for the moon and be wonderfully happy when you reach outer space. Reach for outer space and be disappointed when you see the jumbo jet pass you out at 10,000 meters.
Take hope in the fact that there is a world of help and assistance out there (not always expensive consultant fees) providing templates, suggestions and case studies to help. It is over to you to take advantage of this assistance.