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How To Plan For The Uncertain Future Of Your Business.

By Stephanie Anyamele

The pandemic has been a nerve-wracking experience for everybody, especially small business owners who have now found themselves with little to no cash inflow from sales, tough decisions on employee management and concerns of what a post-coronavirus world would actually look like.

While it’s easy to dwell on the uncertainty of right now and allow oneself to enter panic mode (this doesn’t help FYI!), the fact is: it is the companies that take this opportunity to push forward and explore new ideas that will be the winners once the lockdowns are lifted and the economy starts to bounce back.

When so much is unclear and unsure, the best way to plan for the future is to try those things you may not have otherwise or that you were already thinking about but didn’t have the time to focus on.

These tough times call for implementing aggressive tactics if you want to get ahead of your competition and prepare to thrive during and after the pandemic. We recommend the following:

1. Pivot to address the needs of a changed world

What if this pandemic sticks around for months? Even when lockdowns are lifted, what if people don’t come rushing back to work or continue shopping in their usual pattern?

What if things never return to normalcy as we know it? Many business will certainly die if they’re waiting for the return to status quo. Smart business leaders must embrace the reality that the world has changed FOREVER and as such, they need to develop plans to prepare for what comes next.

Things might look bleak right now but there are massive opportunities to look forward to. You might have to pivot to offering digital services, like some gyms are doing, or offer takeout/pickup only, like many restaurants - there are ways to continue growing and diversifying your offerings.

While some industries might never recover from the damage of this pandemic, some others will move forward looking totally different from what they did before. Think about how your business can enter and dominate a new kind of market, and develop a strategy around that.

2. Improve or develop your products and/or services.

Unless your business produces pandemic necessities like toilet paper, hand sanitiser, face masks or even shows for online streaming, your business activity has definitely slowed down. Why not use this sudden free time to explore improving your products and services?

If you can find other related services to offer, do it. You now have gaps in your schedule so it’s a perfect time to experiment with new lines of business and see what catches on.

Think about which features could help your products sell more or how you could create a better user experience. This might be the only time your business will experience this kind of prolonged period of inactivity and temporary quiet so don’t waste the opportunity by taking a partial vacation and allowing competitors to render your offerings obsolete.

3. Invest in your people (if you can)

Could you organise training sessions to help your junior employees learn new skills from senior employees? This is a good way to create mentorship opportunities so newer employees learn from how the more seasoned ones handle themselves and their roles.

You could hold virtual conferences to sharpen your employees’ skills and strengthen staff relationship.

It’s worth keeping in mind that the best changes to come from this pandemic will become permanent. So explore investing in work-from-home systems, as relevant, to empower your business to employ more remote workers because developing new products could introduce your business to new markets all over the world and you want to be positioned to take advantage of.

4. Be on the hunt for partnership opportunities

If your usual customers or clients are now unable to afford your products or services, strategic partnerships could help you stay afloat.

Could you partner with a bigger company to provide your offerings as part of their supply or value chain to keep revenue coming in?

Maybe you’ve had to lay off some staff to reduce overheads but still want to provide high quality service to the few paying clients? Partner with another agency that still has the staff strength you need, though you may have to share your revenues. But some is better than none, right?

Truth is, everyone is looking for help and to be help even in these tough times.

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Stephanie Anyamele is the founder of What Next, Coach? and the Principal Consultant at Charles Ardor & Company, a boutique management consulting firm that works with owners, leaders and managers (OLMs) of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to improve the financial and operational health of their businesses. Stephanie is passionate about supporting business owners in Nigeria to create structure, maximise time and experience freedom and fulfilment.

Follow Stephanie Anyamele on:

Instagram @whatnextcoach @charlesardorco

Twitter @whatnext_coach @charlesardorco

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Abuja, Nigeria

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