The COVID-19 crisis has meant that every business has had to weather some level of interruption to its activities, with some sectors obviously suffering more than others. Now, with the end of lockdown in sight and the economy beginning to recover, every business needs to reassess its situation and take action.
Here are 7 actions that every business should take now to cope in a post-COVID business environment.
1. Reassess your business model
The first step is to take a comprehensive situation analysis of your business with a rigorous assessment of what has changed and what hasn’t. Evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. How have your operations changed, and what do you need to do differently in order to move forward?
Initiate weekly tracking and measurement around your key performance and business indicators. These metrics are going to be the key markers to not only measure your current state but also help you make decisions on what to do next.
2. Run a financial health check
Managing cash flow is always a priority for any business, but the crisis has made this even more important. Ask yourself, is your business profitable or not, and how much cash runway do you have? Tight management of payables and receivables can help strengthen working capital and serve as a bridge.
Reach out to your bank and other credit facilities and discuss potential cash resources. Explore all alternative funding sources, including the Government backed bounce-back and growth loans which have favourable rates and repayment terms.
3. Check and update your health, safety and legal obligations
The COVID crisis means the way every business operates will undergo some change. This will have a major impact on every constituent of your business. And it will require a diligent look at all health, safety and legal issues that arise from coming back to work, opening up for customers and engaging with your suppliers and partners.
4. Review your forecasting
Forecasting is a challenge in normal times, and in this environment, it is downright difficult. Even so, you must build out a handful of scenarios that are based in reality and assume a wide range of outcomes. Every company must relook at its forecast for sales, expenses and cash flow and retest its assumptions. These scenarios should include modelling cash flow, burn rate and liquidity.
5. Update your customer acquisition and retention policies
While it may be difficult, it’s imperative that every organisation focuses on retaining and servicing existing customers, whether you are selling a product or a service. This may be your best source of revenue, since you already have an established relationship. New customer acquisition might be trickier, but this is where low-cost, guerrilla marketing strategies can come into play for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales.
6. Review your products and pricing
With so much disruption to business, taking a fresh look at your product or services, pricing and payment terms is a useful exercise. Are you better off bundling more into your offering or simplifying unbundling? Can you offer promotion pricing or discounting to certain segments to encourage increased demand? Does offering payment term flexibility or use of credit make sense? All options should be on the table as a catalyst to drive sales.
7. Align your communications
Ambiguity and uncertainty about the future can be unsettling for both your employees and your customers. It’s therefore important that your business has clarity in its strategy, tactics and objectives – and importantly – that it communicates that. Make sure you communicate frequently with your employees and present a clear vision externally to both customers and partners. Well informed staff perform better and certainty breeds confidence. Pre-COVID, the old adage of the customer is king was a key consideration, now post-COVID the customer is the only thing that matters.
Unlocking business growth
Although we need to be cautious and manage expectations, as lockdown eases and we emerge from the crisis, there is an expectation that growth is just around the corner. There is a large pent-up demand for goods and services, combined with customer good will towards businesses that they have missed and customers with disposable income built up during the past year to spend. For the business that plans to innovate and succeed, it can be back to business as usual.