Our world towards the end of 2021 remains as uncertain as it did at the end of 2020 – even though the powers that be are pretending business as (the old) usual has returned.
COVID-19 continues to dominate out lives and in many ways has made us more introspective. We are worried about our own financial security, and since the 9/11 anniversary and Taliban taking back control of Afganistan, perhaps our physical security too.
However, if we are to have a successful future we need to face tomorrow in a more positive way than perhaps we have done in the last couple of years. There are many people in the world living with far bigger problems than we can ever imagine encountering. The pictures of Afgans throwing themselves at planes in a desparate attempt to leave the country is proof of that.
Yes, plan for the worst but let’s really HOPE for the best. After all, a positive attitude is rewarded with positive results.
The strongest businesses have clear processes and proceedures. They make sure they have a risk register to identify and help mitigate against the risks their business might face in the future. Whilst it is almost certain no business had global pandemic on their risk register pre-March 2020, well run businesses certainly have it on their risk register now.
The best way to survive the unexpected is to identify and control what you can predict so your business is in a stronger position when the unexpected happens.
Do you remember Challenge Anneka? It was a staple of Saturday evenings in the Bevan houshold. The premise, if you don’t know, was that Anneka Rice had to complete a challenging task – often to aid a charitable cause such as building a play area – over a limited time period.
Whilst this is not something we are likely to do personally, setting ourselves challenges is a great way of feeling a sense of achievement. They motivate us to higher things and test what we are capable of.
In May we walked the West Mendip Way in a day (well – 12 hours). It is 30 miles, 4000ft of climb and the last 5 miles were just a hard slog! But we did it.
Although this was not a business test, I think that any challenges we set ourselves make us stronger in all aspects of our lives.
In a challenging year for the wrong reasons how about setting yourself some challenges for the right ones?
The promised complete easing in Lockdown is imminent but there is obviously still work to be done.
Many businesses still have staff on Furlough. Others have staff members they need to be working in the office, because their jobs involve dealing face to face with customers (receptionists etc.), but worries about COVID mean these staff members are still working from home.
Hopefully these businesses have a clear plan of action to get staff back in the office and have been having a dialogue throughout Lockdown to ensure that staff are available again to do the jobs for which they are paid.
There needs to be understanding on both sides. Businesses need to understand that it will take time for staff to be comfortable again with ‘back to usual’ and staff need to understand that businesses have had it very tough over the last year and need their full support to survive.
Remember if you have fulfilled your part of a contract with a client, and the agreed date for payment has passed, that money is yours. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about chasing for it if they are slow in paying. After all your organisation is not a bank – so your customers should not expect you to behave like one.
To help you ensure you don’t have a large amount of outstanding payments a) have a clear contract with customers detailing your payment terms b) invoice promptly c) chase payments that are overdue as per your terms
One of the things I am really looking forward to over the coming months is a return to meeting clients, and connections, I haven’t seen in person for months. Zoom, and other online tools, have enabled us to keep in contact, and virtual meetings have become an integral part of our business lives. I doubt that, once life returns to ‘normal’, we will revert back to business exactly as it was before COVID, because it is undeniable that virtual meetings save us time and money.
However, I, for one, have missed the ‘water cooler’ conversations we have when we have face to face meetings – but rarely happen when using an online tool. Being able to chat over a coffee and cake, allows trusting relationships to build gradually in a natural and authentic way. So I will definitely go back to ‘offline’ meetings when I can.
I am also really looking forward to getting back to my Metwalking networking – great conversations in the great outdoors!
Many businesses have financial problems because they do not review their prices regularly. Even though their costs are increasing they find increasing their own prices difficult – and so their profits continually decrease.
They might then have to increase their prices by a large amount in one go to catch up.
It is good business practice to review your prices annually and to increase prices by a small amount to keep up with inflation.
When your business is facing challenges, and there are many factors influencing it that are not under your control, having a clear plan for your business will help you to keep focussed on your goals and take control of the factors you can influence.
Businesses that struggle often have no clear direction or strategy, and so their growth, stagnation or decline is determined not by the owners but by the winds of fortune.
Let’s all plan for success in 2021 and put the challenges of 2020 behind us.
Also, make sure you are up-to-date on any Government help you can take advantage of to help your organisation survive. Many local councils have extra help available and there are grant organisations who want to help in specific areas.
Some well directed Google searching could pay dividends. But be careful not to overextend your commitments to repay later
If you have been a regular reader of my blogs, and if you are thank you, you will have noticed that in the past I have regularly written two blogs a month. However, in the last two months this has dropped to one a month.
With the imposed restrictions to us all and the lack of variety in our lives at the moment it is very difficult to be creative and come up with new material that will be interesting to others.
I have therefore decided to restrict my postings to one per month in the hope that I will be able to ensure that the quality of my posts remains as high as I can get it.
It is part of a rethink I have been having with regards to the marketing I do and the way I connect with my lovely network. This is something I think we all have to do from time to time.
It is easy to just continue doing the same thing month after month without taking time to review what we are achieving and whether it is worth the time and effort we are expending. Every now and then we should take stock and shake things up.