The world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has affected countless lives and brought about a new reality that people around the world are still trying to make sense of every day. With no telling how or when the pandemic will “end”, the future is never felt more volatile.
Unfortunately, uncertainty is never good for business. But with how the past couple of years have played out, it has never been more important for companies to embrace the uncertain—that is, to carefully assess the possibilities that come with it and to take the challenge head-on.
Business and the COVID-19 pandemic
Mom-and-pop shops, online stores, starter entrepreneurs, industry giants—regardless of size, nearly all businesses worldwide were affected by the pandemic.
An analysis by the World Bank in October 2020 elicited responses from over 120,000 firms in more than 60 countries made somewhat expected findings. It concluded that smaller firms were hit harder or that some sectors, such as hospitality and tourism, were faring worse.
Along with determining the factors behind the differences among respondents, this study also sought to investigate three main ways businesses could be affected: operation status, impact on sales, and employment.
Changes in customer demand, supply chain processes, and government regulations, along with devastating unemployment rates and recessions, have all forced businesses to adapt—quickly. Overall, innovation has proven to play a key role in businesses’ survival and continuity.
As the world recovers from the pandemic, it is vital to learn from the past couple of years and ensure that your enterprise is as prepared as it can be. Below are steps to get your business ready for the post-pandemic economy and beyond:
- Assess how your business was affected
The first thing you must do is conduct a thorough assessment of the pandemic’s impact on your own business.
You can start by formulating an overall picture of your company today: did consumer demand for products or services increase or decrease? Has customers’ access to your products or services changed? Have you had to change suppliers, and does it take more time to acquire your supplies? What does your workforce look like now?
A thorough overview of your business’s current situation will give you a good starting point for planning. Then, you can take a look at which issues need your attention, what changes should be prioritized, and ultimately, how to move forward.
- Situate yourself in the market
Now that you have a clear picture of your business today, it’s time to think in terms of your environment. Consumer demand may or may not have grown over the course of the pandemic—where do you see your business headed? Who are your competitors?
Consider other firms in the same industry and analyze if a similar path is ultimately viable for your business. Would it benefit your business to reopen when the situation is less uncertain, and how would you revive your brand? Otherwise, how do you go on and aim to position yourself as a leader in the market? Now more than ever, differentiation should be a key focus area in your business strategy.
- Project and plan
While there is no way to foolproof your business for the next (please not too soon!) global crisis, sufficient preparation can help minimize negative impact and losses on your consumers. Start by running through all the different scenarios that this new reality might entail and assessing whether or not your organization is equipped to handle it.
For instance, do you anticipate your workforce returning to the office or taking on a hybrid setup permanently? Do you have the infrastructure to support work-from-home arrangements? What would the delivery of your products or services look like? Is there a way to expand your reach? What are the resources that you would need for your updated processes?
Conduct a thorough financial analysis to identify where you can cut costs and where you can expect more cash flow. Playing these scenarios out will allow you to arrange the necessary steps for better execution.
- Listen and learn
The pandemic has forever changed the way we do business, stripping existing protocols to the core processes. Whether it’s moving toward automating processes or merely streamlining them, organizations are taking strides toward simpler, more optimized ways to work.
The post-pandemic era is a call to re-evaluate previous practices that might not necessarily contribute to your business. What could be cut down to save time? How can you eliminate unnecessary steps so your customers can reach out to you as quickly as possible?
Flexibility is also a key goal to keep in mind. You would want to strategize your operations in a way that remains flexible in case of similar situations in the future. Effective delegation for entrepreneurs is vital; resources should be allocated appropriately to projects or tasks that can be completed. Avoid starting too many projects simultaneously.
- Beef up your digital platforms
Increased attention on online platforms translates to more opportunities for businesses to thrive online. Turn to the power of digital marketing to capture sales and grow awareness for your brand.
Meanwhile, consider developing a good online platform where potential customers can better know your brand and offerings. It will also be easier for them to raise any concerns and give you feedback. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, offering online options can still bring you sales and keep you connected with your market while they’re unable to visit in person.
- Support your staff
Throughout these uncertain times, businesses should look after their most valuable resource—their employees. The post-pandemic economy is a good time to rethink existing standards and enhance them into policies and processes that nurture your staff’s health and well-being.
Start with clear-cut policies that are purposeful and help ease them into adjusting to new setups. For remote workers, give them the same access to company resources and programs they would otherwise have in the in-office experience.
Investing in health and wellness programs will let your employees know you’re committed to them through difficult times. Finally, enforce structures that allow flexibility and let your team give you feedback.
As the world continues through uncertain times, there are a few steps you can take to minimize the impact on your business. Through strategy, flexibility, and innovation, you will be more prepared for whatever the post-pandemic economy brings.