Planning for small businesses in uncertain times
Updated: Feb 12, 2021
The situation we’re currently going through is unparalleled and with it the uncertainty of what life is going to look like afterwards. Will we go back to normal (whatever that is), or will it be a “new normal” as so many people call it. But what will the differences be and how on earth do you plan for that?
Talking about productivity inevitably leads to talking about planning as well. Because how can you be productive when you don’t know what you’re working towards? But how do you plan in times like these? We still need to plan, of course, but we can’t expect to be able to stick to inflexible, long term plans and keep doing what we’ve done thus far.
I have put together some planning tactics for you that are particularly useful for planning in uncertain times. This article might be aimed at small business owners (like myself) but the tips are applicable to almost anyone trying to plan what to do next.
Plan shorter term
If you’re used to your annual plan, broken down into quarterly and monthly milestones this might not work right now. Instead think about what you can achieve in shorter time frames. For now a good length of time to plan for might be a month or six weeks. Your milestones can then be set weekly or for every two weeks.
This way, you can respond more quickly to upcoming changes.
Scenarios are plans for “what if” situations. What will you do if x, y or z happens?Maybe set aside a day or two to come up with as many scenarios as you can, so if the situation occurs, you are ready with your plan B (or C, D, E, F … whatever it may be).
When we don’t know what’s going to happen from one week to the next, this could put you a step ahead of others who wait to see what happens first and then react to it. You already have a plan.
Don’t rely on one revenue stream
If your business has only one way of producing income, it is not very flexible and you will find it difficult to adjust quickly. Here are some ideas how you could diversify or pivot your business to stay nimble:
What else can you offer? Are there related products or services you could add to your portfolio?
How can you offer your products or services differently? Is there any way you could do what you do online? Can you deliver? Many restaurants and pubs have survived through offering take-aways when customers couldn’t come and sit-in anymore.
Who could you collaborate with? Are there other businesses who offer products or services which compliment your own? Are there businesses who serve the same customers base as yourself? Increase your reach by working together in some way.
Improve your communication
Keep people informed about what you’re doing. Whether that’s within your business or outside. Because we can’t see each other in real life, it is important to stay in touch. Use social media and email to communicate with your existing and potential clients. Tell them what’s happening, let them know you’re still there and what you’re working on.
Pull your team closer through brief daily online meetings (Zoom, etc.) to keep each other updated and motivated. Check in with your team member regularly to see if they need support, as mental health can be an issue in times like these. You’re all in this together, so it’s important to be there for each other.
So overall, it’s important to be super flexible. Focus on what you know now and stay up-to-date with government guidance and the law; some things are changing daily.
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Above all, stay safe! 😊