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  • Writer's pictureAlex Johns


The slogan famously used for Apple's advertising in the late 90's, but now is the right time to borrow them to consider how businesses and business people might navigate the choppy waters of this Coronavirus pandemic. I wrote this in April at the beginning of lockdown and posted it on Linkedin but its probably more important now than back then as we have lived with the pandemic for so long and there is some fixing to be done.

Yep our daily lives have changed, 2 months in, people are beginning to adapt to the "new normal" and over the next few months some things will probably be immeasurably better (I'm speaking to my folks more in lockdown than before via Zoom!) some things worse (No live sport, No Golf, No holidays for the foreseeable - our perks have gone and so we need to invent stuff just to stay sane) & some things will disappear for the time being (office culture, commuting, mass events who knows when these will be back to how they were) & some things we need an answer for quick (apart from the obvious vaccine which would be great thank you very much, can someone also find a way to help all our children more with their education - they are really struggling right now).

It's written in virtually every forecast you read that this is set to stay for a good few months yet and its ramifications will last at least for a few years. This is the big one, the one that Bill Gates told us about back in 2015.... So what do we do?

Here are 10 things which will help SME business owners - there is lots of detailed planning and thinking behind each of these statements but they are more true now than at any time in my career, so here goes:

  1. Conserve Cash - it's king right now and so spend it wisely and on the right things to grow your business.

  2. Interrogate Everything - now is the perfect time to think long and hard about the things that don't work & change them. Look at those products or services which don't work but you keep pontificating about, those dated accountancy packages you've used for years which aren't fit for purpose anymore, your lack of proper social media integration - it's a thing so be better at it, the fact that you do zero data analysis - why not? it's incredibly important you understand your business better, the lack of a digital dashboard in your business set up - why can't you see all the moving parts of your business via a dashboard - you can, do it. Change things up.

  3. Think Big - Just because the world has changed overnight, its not the time to think small, there are opportunities aplenty for the brave.

  4. Don't be Quiet - Now is the time to communicate with friends, customers, suppliers (& of course family). Do it more not less. As the lock-in days get longer, people will crave communication and new and interesting content to engage with.

  5. Make a new plan - throw the last one in the bin and pivot. Think about all areas of your business and work out how you can serve your customers better. They want you, they may not be able to get to you and so find new ways to communicate with them. They will appreciate you more post lockdown.

  6. Digitise - Find ways to make your business more digital. It will save money in the long run and is now mission critical. If you are'nt doing this, you will not survive of that I'm quite certain.

  7. Innovate - find a new way to serve your customers, they loved you before Corona and will do again but maybe you need to serve them differently.

  8. Do more things in-house - Content is king nowadays, find ways to do more yourselves rather than outsourcing. In house photo & video studios will rise and rise I have no doubt as businesses seek to create better, more interesting content themselves. Creating content is great fun, its now more important than ever.

  9. Look at your supply chain - is there a way to be better here and to find a new way? Consider how you do things, the amount it costs you and consider a new way perhaps? What lockdown has proved is that E Commerce is going to grow and grow, be better at both front end and crucially the back end (which is where most companies I've ever worked with fail).

  10. Be Kinder - reach out to staff who are furloughed who might be struggling with all this, business owners you know who might need a helping hand & your own suppliers who don't know what to do & might want to chew the fat. These days are unprecedented and everyone needs a chat and some help. Just a 30 minute chat can really help.

So those are my 10 tips for how to get through this, sadly there no magic wand and many of the actions you take now may be challenging but there is hope ... many amazing businesses were invented post 9/11, there were the roaring 20's after the terror of the Spanish Flu pandemic, so be bold and Think Different.

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