There's been a lot of talk about the 'new normal' or the 'next normal' over the year, and what that's going to look like.
I even created a free resource earlier in the year based around this concept, to help business leaders review
the various elements of their business and establish a plan to move forwards.
But this phrase feels like it suggests some sort of fixed state that can be
defined, described and planned for. And as things progress and we watch
events unfold, I think we've realised that this isn't the case.
What happened during the Pandemic
We saw huge leaps forward in some areas as a result of Covid, which might otherwise have taken years, such as – the quick creation of the nightingale hospitals, an almost immediate shift towards remote working, adapting to virtual medical appointments and many more.
For businesses that were forced to change, they seem to fall somewhere on a spectrum:
- were able to completely change what they were doing to respond to the new world needs,
- were able to change on the surface, but with systems, processes and structures being left behind and taking some effort to catch up
- being unable to change quick enough and really struggling to survive
Any scenario we find ourselves in doesn't last for long before we have to move on again, and even though we're living in quite extreme, changing times at the moment and we know there's a light at the end of the Covid tunnel, what's next? There's the fallout of Brexit to deal with, a potential recession, the climate emergency, more health crises?
It's definitely becoming more apparent that as individuals and owners of businesses, we are going to have to be ever-adapting to change.
So, what is it that enabled the speed of change for the most successful 'pivots'? What did they do that others didn't?
In my experience there are key elements to a business' agility and ability to respond to change. A few of my key observations on some of the businesses I've come across, who were able to successfully adapt their business, are:
- Leadership - the leaders of these businesses tend to be open minded, aware of the market and willing to take risks. They very quickly spotted an opportunity or established a new idea and vision and actively engaged their teams and / or external stakeholders
- Pre-existing culture - the business would have already have had a strong purpose and values, with very clear communication channels and teams who trust in their leaders
- Infrastructure - the teams were small and / or very well-structured, they had simple processes with simple documentation, their supply chain and stakeholder relationships were strong and they obtained quick access to suitable technology and relevant information
I spoke to some of the other business owners on my NatWest Business Accelerator Programme(1) who have changed their business during the pandemic; including a skin clinic becoming a product manufacturer, a brewery which moved from b2b to b2c when the pubs closed and a leadership training provider moving their offering entirely online.
"I decided during lockdown to manufacture a new product not directly related to my business, which was a risk but it paid off" Abigayle André, Glam Aesthetic
"I moved to Shopify as quickly as possible which created an easy way for customers to access the products" Mark Costello, Horsforth Brewery
"We used lockdown to video all of our menu of sessions and we now have an on demand leadership training platform that's selling well" Laura Bouttell, Quarterdeck Leadership & Management Consultancy
And these entrepreneurs have proven that being able to act and adapt at the drop of a hat is vital for survival.
If we combine these practical preparation lessons with a desire, drive and passion to 'build back better' and 'build back greener' in a sustainable way, we might just be ready for the flexible futures coming our way.
If you want to find out about how DH Professional Solutions can support you with your preparations, please do get in touch.
(1) Thank you to my NatWest Business Accelerator Programme peers for their views - Abigayle André owner of Glam Aesthetic, Mark Costello owner of Horsforth Brewery and Laura Bouttell owner of Quarterdeck Leadership & Management Consultancy