If there ever was a year to shake the foundations of business, 2020 was it. In the UK, we’ve have had it tough – incredibly tough. If uncertainty owing to the exit from the EU wasn’t enough, then try throwing in a worldwide pandemic into the mix. I think it’s really important to reflect on that as we start 2021. If your business has withstood 2020, then that alone is a fantastic achievement.
But interestingly, as horrible and crippling COVID-19 has been, some businesses have thrived.
It’s easy to point to the surge of online shopping pushing Amazon’s share price through the stratosphere, or the ubiquity of Zoom these days. But I have observed more immediately smaller businesses, some I’m privileged to call my clients, see success.
Triumph through adversity
Consider these examples.
One of my clients works across the UK and Worldwide, providing training to management and staff. Before COVID-19 hit, business wasn’t bad at all, but something interesting happened. Once the pandemic took hold, their sales rocketed and the record months came in thick and fast.
They managed to pivot and deliver training online. Already set up for this, what was a fraction of their business became incredibly lucrative. And what was more, costs fell as delivery was provided from the comfort of their home. This wasn’t the same throughout the industry though. Others were stranded, unable to deliver their content online and their businesses collapsed as the restrictions came in.
What about the hospitality industry? Here’s another example. A pizza restaurant built up a local following of fans serving fantastic pizza at a reasonable prices. When COVID-19 hit, they pivoted as well into a takeaway outfit and again, business boomed. So much so, that they are contemplating not opening the restaurant again and have opened a second kitchen in the UK so they can expand their reach.
Again, the overheads fell with less staff required to run the restaurant. And again, as well all know, hospitality has suffered severely in 2020, yet they thrived.
Pivoting to meet your customer
We all felt the initial disorientation of COVID-19 after the first lockdown brought the world close to a halt. Shops shut, schools closed and plans cancelled. But then, the unstoppable pull of the human spirit took over again. And things began to move, slowly, as the world allowed.
Businesses geared up to allow staff to work at home, create COVID-compliant workspaces and do their utmost to keep on trading. Consumers repurposed their budgets, redirected their spending and looked to continue life under the new normal. The economy and livelihoods took a huge shock and 2020 represents a tragedy, but people still looked to push forward where they could.
Much like how Amazon was ready to deliver to the millions across the globe and Zoom bridged the void left from meeting in the office, my client pivoted, delivering training content online, and promoting and ramping up takeaways. They complimented that human will to move forward, the enforced change of habits and have seen success.
Can you make your own luck?
All businesses have their own challenges, and they will come in various forms. I hope there is never a repeat of what we witnessed 2020 and already a highly contagious variant looks to be leaving its mark, but that is not to say that business owners should not be thinking ahead. Seeing the opportunities to pivot and diversify your revenue streams can protect you against your own personal crises or help achieve future aspirations.
One thing this experience has made me realise is how important it is to find some time to really plan and think about how to protect and strengthen our business and it’s something I encourage you all to do. If you have some time, try to contemplate the below.
- Complete a SWOT analysis – super simple, but underutilised. Understand what works well for you and what doesn’t, where the opportunities are and what are the risks to your Business. Then build objectives around those outputs. Keep it and review it next year. How did you do?
- Build, or refresh your business plan – having a business plan in place will keep you grounded and focused. If you don’t have one, spend time designing one. If you do, review it – does it need a refresh after what 2020 has brought? Stuck with what to do? We suggest a one page structure initially.
- Prepare for the next big event – whether it’s another COVID, or the loss of a big client. Monitor your reserves, plan your cash flow and know how you’ll adapt to the existential threats to your Business. Could you cover your overheads if revenue dried up?
- Review your client base and revenue model – do you have key clients who make up a high percentage of turnover? Can you identify a recurring revenue stream opportunity in what you do?
Start to think and plan around this and you can look forward to 2021 with much-needed optimism. For me, one of the most exciting pieces of work I do is to sit with my clients, take their visions and aspirations and help them craft actionable plans wrapped around solid financials – and watching them deliver against those plans.
If you need support with planning for the future of your business, get in touch today.