How Businesses Survive and Thrive After a Crisis

Written by Lindie Meintjes, Baker Tilly Staples Rodway

As a Business Development Manager, I spend a lot of my time looking to the future and preparing businesses for their future. Well that future has changed dramatically during this year.

I’ve had to adapt my strategies and prepare for a very different business world. It’s a daunting task, foreseeing a future that has never played out quite this way before… Business leaders facing disruption like none before with unreachable clients, broken supply chains, distressed workers and bills piling up.

There isn’t a single leader or economist throughout the world that has certainty of what the future holds. So, as a mentor and advisor, my instinct is to look for opportunity out of uncertainty.

What better way to predict the future than to use what has happened in the past?

Business leaders in the 1940’s faced a similar situation with the start of World War II. What made things even more daunting was the fact they were still in the recovery stage from the great depression (some country economies worse off than others). Surely there was nothing but doom ahead…

However, what we can reflect on from the various world changing events of the past, is that from adversity came great innovation and transformation for some businesses and certain industries. We can predict that those who are agile and open to change will dominate for years to come.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted every economy in the world, exposing weaknesses on every front. Therefore, it’s our turn to rethink and refine our businesses to adapt to this changed world and reclaim, expand and innovate the market share.

Business leaders should interrogate every aspect of their business. It takes courage to challenge the status quo, but you don’t have to do it on your own, involve your most trusted advisors and valued employees to reimagine business and how you can service the changing needs of your customers (and new ones), that will emerge from this crisis.

Strong business leaders value the enabling factors that digital technology can bring into their business. Explore the application of digital technology and cultivate a new mindset in the organisation to embrace new technologies to address customer and business needs.

There might be big ideas that you’ve been floating around pre-COVID that you were reluctant to explore – now’s the time!

  • seize the moment
  • collate your ideas
  • make the change
  • rethink the historical boundaries of your business.

With the changing landscape brings opportunities where arch-rivals can become key partners or suppliers become customers. Utilise the fact that everyone needs to make big changes to survive this, so will be open to ideas, no matter how crazy they may sound.

The most challenging aspect to navigate will undoubtedly be predicting customer demand. We can spend countless hours debating about the nature of the consumer that will emerge from this pandemic. Some customers will bounce back and others will change their consumer spend – with you and other businesses. The most practical thing you can do right now is prepare for different types of customers and multiple scenarios. Do a strategic marketing plan with new innovative ways to communicate and trade with your customers.

One of your greatest opportunities during this process as the business leader, is to rethink and refine your organisational culture. There might be some hard decision to be made around redundancies or re-skilling so get professional support to help you navigate through this. We all have been changed by this extraordinary time and your employees will look to you to direct the way forward, this is your moment to reassure and inspire as your business moves from protection mode, to recovery, to reshaping the future of your business.

Prepare for recovery, reshape your strategy, build resilience now, for tomorrow.