Planning a Way Out of the Pandemic for Your Business
The global pandemic has forced the United Kingdom’s economy into a downward spiral, severely affecting trading, turnover, profits and margins across the country. Countless businesses have been forced to close temporarily due to lockdowns and restrictions, while a lack of trade has sadly forced many other businesses into permanent closure.
But with an increasing number of successful vaccination trials being carried out and lockdown measures being reinstated to combat coronavirus, there’s no doubt that the country will eventually make it through the worst of the pandemic – it’s just a question of when, rather than if.
For businesses, now is the time to start planning a way out of the pandemic. Businesses that are flexible, that plan for future eventualities and make the most of the government support schemes while they exist, will be in the best position to thrive in the coming years, as the economy begins to grow once again.
Here’s how your business can plan its way out of the pandemic.
Businesses Need to Go Digital
The pandemic has reinforced the need for businesses to solidify and expand their online presence. Retailers are moving shops online, businesses are discovering new ways to advertise through social media, and countless companies are providing their services through online channels.
With nationwide lockdowns, a digital presence has become more important than a physical presence, and this is a trend that’s unlikely to disappear when the pandemic ends.
Businesses need up-to-date and user-friendly websites, they need smooth apps for orders and payments, and a long-term digital marketing strategy. Businesses should ensure that they think digital and move online before the pandemic ends.
Remote Working Could Be the Future
In the short term, many companies have successfully transitioned their employees to a home working routine. With offices proving to be unsafe in the face of the virus, employees have instead set up offices at home, while using tech and teleconferencing software to conduct business remotely.
Recent studies suggest that up to 74 per cent of businesses intend to retain remote working opportunities in the future, because staff aren’t likely to want to surrender their newfound freedom and flexibility.
You may need to check and re-write your return to work guidelines if they are now changing due to the current landscape. Write a return to work sample letter and get someone from HR to check it through.
Businesses need to plan for a remote working future if they want to survive in the post-pandemic world. As the economy recovers, businesses offering remote and flexible working schemes are likely to attract the best candidates for jobs, so companies need to be ready to expand on these remote-working trials.
Start Investing in Tech and Software Now
While trade might have slowed down, innovation hasn’t loosened up. The business world moves fast, even during a pandemic, and businesses that invest in tech and software now are likely to thrive as the economy picks up again.
Businesses need to invest in digital growth, as well as remote working software such as Zoom. They need to stay on top of developments, provide their workers with the software necessary to work remotely, and prepare for a tech-driven business world post-pandemic.
Employees will need access to excellent infrastructure and hardware too, including reliable wifi, laptops, smartphones and secure networks that allow companies to do business.
Look for New Markets and Business Opportunities
While all businesses have suffered during the pandemic, many have managed to successfully pivot, despite the pressure and the economic downturn.
Unfortunately, not every market or industry is going to bounce back quickly. Many high street shops have already permanently closed, while businesses in hard-hit industries such as travel and hospitality won’t exist on the same scale in the immediate post-pandemic world.
Businesses have the opportunity now though, to pivot and plan for new markets and opportunities. While shops might close, there’s an opportunity to move online. While restaurants are shut, there’s a chance to enter new markets and find new customers through delivery and collection options.
The same holds true across other businesses. There will be future opportunities for those willing to change and grow with the new times and the new way of doing business. Of course, it’s not always possible to predict which trends will pick up and which opportunities will prove successful in the future, but businesses have the chance to try new ideas out and to broaden their reach across multiple markets in order to hedge their bets.
Government Support Schemes Are There to Help
In the short term, businesses need to survive the worst of the pandemic if they want to play a role in the future of their industry. While many companies and businesses have been hit by quarantine and trade restrictions, there are government schemes available to help.
The government has so far continually extended its business support schemes as the pandemic continues, and they are expected to do this as long as is needed. Businesses are able to join the furlough scheme, to apply for business grants or cost-effective business loans, and to receive rent or business rate waivers.
Businesses can seek out professional business planning advice to find out how they can make the most of government support schemes as a way to prepare for the future.
Businesses Need to Be Flexible
Unfortunately, the coronavirus has already proven that it’s entirely unpredictable. While things are looking positive in the long term, there may still be future lockdowns and it’s uncertain exactly when the economy will see growth again.
For this reason, businesses need to remain flexible. This isn’t a time for gambling, but for prudently planning for solvency. That means having multiple plans, ready to be put into action quickly. If the country goes into yet another lockdown, businesses need to have a contingency plan in place that can be implemented rapidly. Will workers be furloughed? Are orders able to be processed while maintaining social distance?
Flexibility is key to the success of business in the future.
These are uncertain and unpredictable times. But with planning, flexibility, investment, support and a realisation that the post-pandemic economy isn’t going to be the same, businesses can not only survive in the short term, but prepare for a new future.