Checklists for the re-start of your business after Covid-19
Good management is required now more than ever.
Looking back over the past three months, you may be thinking, OK, that was painful, but it has to get better from here. For most of us, the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on our businesses were unexpected disasters and the final consequences are not yet entirely understood. Nevertheless, we have to try and work our way out of it.
So what are the right management strategies and action plans to get through this economic turmoil and uncertainty with a more resilient and stable business?
Here are the lessons we’ve learned from previous economic crises and business setbacks:
- Do not rely on the headlines.
The media are not helpful to you. They will provide neither balanced reporting nor insightful analysis for input to your planning or decision making. You will have to dig deeper. Make sure your market data and competitor intelligence is current and accurate.
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Keep employees and customers informed. They may be worried, confused and need to be reassured that they can count on you. You may not have good news for them, but they will appreciate hearing directly from you and are not being left guessing what's coming next.
- Keep on Selling.
Now is not the time to cut back on marketing and sales. Your efforts now will be even more conspicuous and effective if your competitors back out of the market and away from their customers. Be selective and very focused. Work on building stronger customer relationships by being relevant and responsive to the current economic circumstances. Avoid the cry for help advertising that only confirms “we’re desperate and we need the sales.” Customers are looking for strength, not weakness. Calmness, confidence and competence are much more appealing to potential buyers who are still healthy and want reliable long term suppliers.
- Do quickly what obviously needs to be done.
If it’s clear to you it's also clear to the people affected. They’re waiting for you to act and will be more confident and proactive themselves, if they see you taking action. Face the facts, don't fight the facts.
Remember Darwin's survival of the fittest: those who adapt to their environment are most likely to survive; not the strongest or the biggest. This is not the time to be stubbornly persistent about your plans. Look around and be creative. Your destination may still be the same, but the route, the vehicle and the passengers may need to be changed.
- Be confident, but cautious.
Recognize the difference between calculated risk and a hopeful optimism. Make a decision if the potential outcomes and their probabilities are reasonably clear, but hold fire if they’re not.
- Show conspicuous leadership.
No one can do it better than the person who is ultimately responsible and can speak with sincerity and integrity on the concerns, strategies and plans. Lead by example, not by rhetoric.
A 10 point diagnostic to develop the short-term action plan for your business
From my experience, most businesses benefit from a regular health check – a business diagnostic that takes a thorough look at the whole business and identifies priorities and the potential for better performance.
At this point, for the recovery and survival of your business after the coronavirus shutdown you need to take a closer look at these 10 checkpoints and identify the most urgent priorities to get your business up and thriving again in the new business climate of 2020.
- Start with an updated strategic plan. Find your last business plan and review it against the new business environment and operating protocols. Prepare the new road map with clear milestones and a timetable to achieving your revised business objectives.
- Use your updated strategic plan to guide management and employee decision making. Monitor results against the plan. Review, revise and react quickly to customer responses and the changing business environment.
- You’re still in a competitive business: Are you keeping score? Compare your key performance indicators to the top performers. Learn from experience and adjust as necessary to achieve better results.
- Evaluate your performance in re-building long-term loyal relationships with customers, suppliers and strategic partners. Ensure you are showing your loyalty in return. You will need the support of all of them.
- What about the people you need most: your employees? Get their feedback on any new concerns. Do they still believe you’re a great place to work?
- Assess each of the six P's in your marketing mix in the new post-Covid world – Product, Positioning, Promotion, Price, Packaging, and Placement. Fix what's broken.
- Assess your corporate image against the biggest and best brands in your business. Do you still look as good as you really are compared to them?
- Re-evaluate your online services. Are your competitors raising customer expectations? Do it better now. Don’t wait to be asked. And remember to turn the WWW upside down and think MMM – Manage, Market, and Monitor for improved results online.
- Review all your marketing communications. Do they capture the four C’s – Current, Clear, Concise and Consistent? Make them relevant and appropriate to the new business climate.
- Review the use of information and automation technologies in your business. Are they part of the solution or part of the problem in responding to new demands for productivity and performance?
Share these ideas with your management team and use them to improve performance. You will do even better when we get closer to normal business conditions again and there should be fewer areas to improve on when you do the next business diagnostic.
Good management will be tested during these times, but good decisions now will mean a better business in the post-Covid future. Keep at it and we’ll get there together.
Be better. Do better.
Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph
Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com
Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.
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