Coronavirus caused significant changes to my business and I need to review my future plans. Where should I start?
If you’ve got a business plan, then it’s time to look at it again and review which elements you want to keep and which need to change. If you haven’t got a plan, then now is time to write one and there are plenty of good guides and templates available. One of the most important things you can do is talk to people before making wholesale changes. Your customers, your staff, your suppliers, business groups and even your competitors may have ideas or things to consider that you haven’t thought about.
I’ve decided to launch a new set of products and services/market to a whole new group of customers. How should I go about this?
Lots has been written in the last few months about this idea, which is also known as “pivoting”. The first thing to bear in mind is don’t rush. Research your new market and customer base, consider what your unique selling point would be, and get your team on board with the idea. Once you commit, then build a robust sales pipeline and develop a marketing plan. Set realistic sales, revenue and profit goals as well. You need to be able to measure, reliably, whether your new approach is working.
I want to use more technology in my business. What should I consider and what will actually be useful without costing me too much?
Some companies have a bad experience with technology, but if you get it right, it can save large amounts of time and money. Be The Business has prepared a range of guides on which pieces of technology are often most useful for companies. If you’re looking at changing your business model or opening up new products and services, then customer relationship management (CRM) software may be particularly useful for you.
I want to use more of the data I have for more effective sales and marketing. Are there any legal considerations I need to abide by?
Data can be an incredibly powerful sales and marketing tool, but there are rules that govern its use. The General Data Protection Regulation came into force in 2018 and covers the collection and use of data, including for sales and marketing purposes. The Information Commissioner’s Office has an excellent guide to what you can and can’t do with customer and other data.
How do I decide if the changes and pivots I’ve made to my business are sustainable?
As lockdown eases you might consider whether the pivots your business made are something you want to stick with, or whether to return to your previous model. You should compare whether the changes you’ve made still make sense, or whether reverting would make for a stronger business. Go through the same steps you did when you first pivoted and take time to consider how consumer behaviour has changed and what your peers are doing.
Should I still be considering diversification to make my business more resilient?
Diversification is a useful way of optimising revenues, and this is the case even during a crisis. When deciding how to diversify, make sure you’re thinking about the best use of the assets you already have and how they fit into changing consumer demands, and see what others in your sector are doing. You’ll also need to analyse whether it makes financial sense to diversify, or if it will end up costing you more in the long run.
How do I make sure my new channels or products feel like part of the same business?
Whilst it can be difficult to consider the bigger picture when you’re making changes at a fast pace, it’s important to understand how any new channels, products or services fit into your business. Understand what you want to gain from a pivot and develop a roadmap for your business with new areas of work in mind. Make sure you’re speaking with your teams and working with them to integrate new activities into your business model.
How can I keep innovating when things feel so risky, and cash is so tight?
Although innovation at this point may seem like a significant risk, it is important to remember that the instability we are facing is also an opportunity. We are seeing significant shifts in consumer demand, new market opportunities and new products and services becoming popular in shortened time frames.
In order to reduce risk, make small changes and monitor the results closely so you can act quickly to scale up in new areas that prove successful and close new projects that have not delivered returns.
Should I be considering other business models like franchising?
A business model gives you a plan for the successful operation of your business, identifying sources of revenue, your intended customer base, products, and details of financing. Coronavirus has impacted all of these important areas, so it might be worth considering tweaking or changing your business model if it’s been affected.
Before making any changes, you should take the time to look into the different business models other organisations are using and consider their pros and cons. If you have multiple stores or provide a service, franchising might make it easier to expand but you’ll need to sacrifice some control, or if you’re looking for more consistent revenue, a subscription model might be the way forward.
Do I need to be considering other operating models?
Your operating model, which is the way in which you configure your business to deliver its strategy, is one of the biggest factors in your performance and could be a key factor in your recovery.
By taking the time to break down how your business works and whether than conflicts with your end goals, you can make sure you’ve got an operating model that actually supports your wider strategy, gets the most out of your employees, and truly reflects the requirements of your customers.